The population of Enron was unrivaled—and maybe that was the problem. That probably doesn’t make much sense, so let me explain.
From a population perspective or organizational analysis, for any given actor, whether ant or multinational corporation, the most relevant occupants of the environment are other actors of the same kind (Scott and Davis). Populations can share habits, interests, even company structure. Similar populations offer the most direct competition for a scarce resource and therefore provide the main source of competitive pressure. Who were the other organizations in Enron’s “population” as it created and expanded Enron Energy Services (EES) and its broadband business? A well organized, experienced, patient utility companies in one case, and nobody (from what I understand) in the second case.
Enron was a mismatch for the utility business and providing individual retail or commercial customers’ energy. As one former employee pointed out, Enron was known for its “abrasive, cutthroat culture” and the fact that there was “condescension toward anyone who didn’t work at Enron” (TSGITR). This does not exactly sound like a customer friendly business culture. The “biggest problem of all” was that once Enron entered contracts to provide energy services, “it had to start fulfilling the terms” (TSGITR). Enron did not have the service infrastructure to created a viable business from EES. It entered the population of energy utilities without examining or caring what the traditionally ‘basic’ or ‘boring’ line of business really required: good customer service.
In broadband—the other “Big Enchilada”—Enron was alone. The concept to trade or securitize broadband was new. Although there was the telecom industry, it was a very different population from that of Enron’s.
In both cases it was not the competition from the energy company population that defeated Enron; it was Enron that defeated Enron. With EES it ignored competitors and their services. With broadband the company found plenty of success lining up contract to provide energy services. It was a wide open market in broadband. The way TSGITR makes the story out to be, Enron did not fail as a result of any competitor or outside corporation, but through the failures of itself as an organization.