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Innovation Corrupted: The Origins and Legacy of Enron's Collapse [Hardcover]

by Malcolm S. Salter
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

July 30, 2008 0674028252 978-0674028258

Although much has already been written about the rise and fall of Enron, four important questions remain unanswered: What management behavior and practices led Enron down the path from truly innovative to fraudulent management? How could Enron’s board of directors have failed to detect the business, ethical, and legal risks embedded in the company’s aggressive financial strategies and accounting practices? Why did Enron’s external watchdogs—security analysts, credit-rating agencies, and regulatory agencies—fail to bark? What actions can prevent Enron-type breakdowns in the future? Innovation Corrupted addresses each of these questions.

In contrast to the time-line narratives of previous books on Enron that offer interesting but largely unsystematic insight into individual actions and organizational processes, Innovation Corrupted pursues a more methodical analysis of the causes and lessons of Enron’s collapse. Based upon newly available sources, Salter identifies the social pathologies and administrative failures that fostered the company’s ethical drift and inhibited the board of directors from exercising effective governance and control. Salter also goes beyond the work of previous books by proposing practical recommendations for preventing future Enron-type disasters. These prescriptions relate to board oversight, financial incentives for executives, and, most importantly, the maintenance of ethical discipline when operating in the murky borderlands of the law. It was in this shadowed space that Enron’s senior executives lost their way.

Editorial Reviews


A superb book. Innovation Corrupted provides the deepest analysis yet of the collapse of Enron. It's essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why success without an ethical foundation leads to disaster. (Bill George, author of True North)

What do ethical lapses, director failings, colluding intermediaries, and conflicted watchdogs have to do with Enron's implosion? Everything. Salter's painstaking research into virtually every record and recollection available demonstrates that there is no single villain in the Enron story--rather a posse of insiders and outsiders fixated on the capital market and apparently oblivious to waving red flags. His lesson for the governance of public companies is that board service is not for amateurs dazzled by position and publicity; it requires deep knowledge of the business of the corporation, insight into the potentially perverse effects of financial incentives, time, capacity, and courage to question management's assumptions and obfuscations, and ethical discipline. (Ira M. Millstein, Senior Partner, Weil, Gotshal, & Manges)

Salter goes beyond previous books by proposing practical recommendations (regarding board oversight, financial incentives, and the maintenance of ethical discipline) for preventing future disasters. Salter has produced a very readable, comprehensive analysis of the social pathologies and administrative failures that led to Enron's implosion. (D. C. Daly Choice 2008-12-01)

About the Author

Malcolm S. Salter is James J. Hill Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, at the Harvard Business School.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (July 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674028252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674028258
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5.0 out of 5 stars A big book, a good book deserving greater attention February 23, 2013
There have been many popular, sensationalist, books on Enron. This one which has been overlooked, stands the test of time. It focuses on the ethics of the situation(s) and concludes that for a long time they were operating, arguably, within the law but not ethically. It was toward the end that desperate actions were taken which were lawless. We should be always mindful that the law is a low level of morality and that ethics calls for a higher standard. There have recently been an endless number of individuals confessing their lawlessness to reduce their sentence or save some of their loss of reputation. According to this book the loopholes are present but the perpetrators at different levels are revealling an extremely low sense of ethics. The question that always has to be asked is: Are these people so self centred that the corporate ethics don't matter to them or is the corporate ethics code so flexible to accommodate most kinds of behaviour?
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