Book on corporate corruption uses new approach to teaching ethics

Wednesday October 25, 2017

“My aim is for students to understand their options and emerge with a practical toolkit that enables them to follow their moral compass."

Stephen Arbogast

Professor Stephen Arbogast covers from Enron through the financial crisis in the new edition of his book.

Preparing students to deal with ethical issues in the workplace is the goal of “Resisting Corporate Corruption: Cases in Practical Ethics from Enron through the Financial Crisis” by Stephen Arbogast, a professor at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School.

“Younger employees can be the most vulnerable when faced with ethical dilemmas, and this book will help them to spot and handle those situations,” says Arbogast.

“My aim is for students to understand their options and emerge with a practical toolkit that enables them to follow their moral compass,” he says. “People think an ethical challenge will never happen to them – until it does. They then panic and believe their only choices are to go along or resign. That’s not close to true, and the book provides a strategic and tactical perspective to address those challenges.”

“Resisting Corporate Corruption” (Wiley-Scrivener, October 2017) had its origins during the Enron scandal. The new, third edition now addresses the financial crisis and its aftermath with 28 case studies and nine essays covering a full range of business practice, controls and ethics issues. It is written for business and law students; corporate heads of audit, controllers, and legal compliance officers; and business leaders, especially heads of financial and large corporations.

Essays discuss the nature of sound financial controls, root causes of the financial crisis and the evolving nature of whistleblower protections.

Framed to help students identify ethics problems and address them within corporations, cases address:

  • Challenges, legal protections and outside support  for would-be whistleblowers
  • Ethical dilemmas facing CEOs and alternatives to combine ethical conduct and business strategy
  • How a corporation like Enron becomes progressively corrupt
  • Ethical decay at diverse institutions that were the roots of the financial crisis
  • Challenges that persist in the post-financial crisis environment

Sherron Watkins, widely known as the Enron whistleblower, wrote in the book’s foreword that the kind of practical ethical training offered by the book is essential: “Without any knowledge of how to spot and address an ethical challenge, most employees will fall victim. The pressures are just too great to do otherwise.”

Arbogast is a professor of the practice of finance at UNC Kenan-Flagler and director of the Energy Center in the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. He teaches business ethics, finance and the business of energy.