One idea that Open Theory offers is that the organization does not act as, well, an organization. “The organization is a coalition of groups and interests, each attempting to obtain something from the collectivity by interacting with others, and each with its own preference and objectives” (94). In other words, organizations are not necessarily the one-faced entity they are made out to be. Enron was an organization—but it was an organization made up of many smaller, in many says independently acting groups that may or may not have the same goals as other groups in the organization. Enron was not a single being bent on greed and world domination; only certain people in the organization were.
A similar statement can be made about the current financial mess. An article recently published in Slate defends Wall Street bankers. The author makes a good point: “One obvious point is being lost in the rush to flagellate Wall Street: The vast majority of toilers in the financial vineyards had nothing to do with the catastrophe. Most are themselves victims of poor judgments they didn’t make, didn’t know about, and would not have understood if they had known about them.” Like the present day financial system, it is unfair to blame the entire organization of Enron for the wrongdoings of only a few.
But this of course begs the question, where do you draw the line? When can you—if you should—hold employees responsible for helping ruin a company? Is ignorance an excuse? Is an employee that gave his blood and sweet working 12 hours a day on an Enron project, but was unaware of its evil implications, responsible? Maybe I am exaggerating, but you get the point–is it always so easy to assign blame in an organization as it was with Enron?
Another notable example is Enron employees and their investments: “Employees were repeatedly encouraged to buy Enron shares; on average, they kept more than half their 401(k) retirement holdings in Enron shares.” If you believe in the company you work for, why wouldn’t you? To lose all of your retirement funds and face the score of society…that has to hurt.
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