Chapters 15-18 in Business Essentials explain in detail the roles of accounting, money, and banking in our economic business environment. These Chapters further describe the management of business finances, highlighting the ramifications of poor accounting, financial, and ethical decisions.
In this assignment, you will watch Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and then use your readings to answer the questions below. Make sure you cite the text for any concepts you take from it for your response. You do not need to use formal academic citation, but may use informal citation within your post.
As a reminder, informal citation gives credit to the source within your text; for example, you might write, “According to Business Essentials by Ronald J. Ebert and Ricky W. Griffith…”
- Explain the concept of mark-to-market accounting as used by Skilling and Lay and why this accounting method is particularly susceptible to ethical indiscretions.
- In what ways did the Securities and Exchange Commission fail to monitor Enron’s use of this accounting method?
- In what ways were the financial analysts, investment bankers, U.S. financial institutions, the SEC, and Enron’s accounting firm Arthur Anderson complicit in helping Enron cover up massive financial and accounting fraud?
- How did Enron’s corporate culture of “survival of the fittest” contribute to the unethical business practices by employees and executives alike? Provide examples.
- What is a “whistle-blower?”
- Why did Sherron Watkins, the whistle-blower of Enron, wait to report the firm?
- In what ways did Skilling’s involvement in unethical financial and accounting practices benefit stakeholders initially?
- What were the ultimate consequences to stakeholders and employees after bankruptcy?
- The priest at the end of the film mentions “the pursuit of money can cause one to lose one’s soul.” How do you interpret this quote in the context of both the Enron scandal AND your own beliefs around money and the pursuit of it.
- What happened to Skilling and Lay…and where are they now?
You do not need to respond to the comments from your fellow classmates but may if something they write strikes you as interesting.
Watch Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room:
Potent, fascinating chronicle of the rise and fall of the Houston-based energy giant.
Director: Alex Gibney
Actor: Peter Coyote