FACTORS CAUSING ENRON’S COLLAPSE: AN INVESTIGATION INTO CORPORATE GOVERNANCE AND COMPANY CULTURE

Download This Article

Nguyen Huu Cuong

DOI:10.22495/cocv8i3c6p2

Abstract

This paper investigates and evaluates the weaknesses of Enron’s corporate governance structures, weaknesses that lead to the collapse of the company. Overall, poor corporate governance and a dishonest culture that nurtured serious conflicts of interests and unethical behaviour in Enron are identified as significant findings in this paper. Employing the case study method, the paper synthesizes, analyses, and interprets all aspects of corporate governance that lead to Enron’s collapse based on three main reports: The Powers Report (Powers, Troubh and Winokur 2002), the Testimony of Chief Investigation (Roach 2002), and The Subcommittee’s Report (United States Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations 2002). Firstly, Enron’s Board of Directors failed to fulfil its fiduciary duties towards the corporation’s shareholders. Secondly, the top executives of Enron were greedy and acted in their own self-interest. Thirdly, many of Enron’s employees witnessed the wrongdoings of Enron’s top executives, and quite a few whistleblowers came forward. Lastly, Enron outsourced external auditing for its internal audit function instead of establishing a functionally internal audit mechanism and its external auditor acquiesced in the application of questionable accounting and fraudulent financial reporting. Although Enron’s collapse has been widely discussed in the literature, no paper has been found that synthesizes the various aspects of corporate governance that resulted in the Corporation’s collapse. This paper contributes to the literature on the numerous weaknesses of Enron’s corporate governance structures, including the following: the role of the Corporation’ board, especially its top executives; the Corporation’s corporate culture and whistle-blowing system; and the Corporation’s internal auditor and external auditors.

Keywords: Enron, Corporate Governance, Corporate Culture, Board of Directors, Executives

How to cite this paper: Cuong, N. H. (2011). Factors causing Enron’s collapse: An investigation into corporate governance and company culture. Corporate Ownership & Control, 8(3-6), 585-593. http://dx.doi.org/10.22495/cocv8i3c6p2