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The Enron Corporation, known simply as Enron, was a company based in the United States, which was known to be the largest bankruptcy and stock collapse in history by the year 2001. Enron was formed in the year 1985 and transformed itself to a giant in the natural-gas and electricity trading business. It was ranked as the seventh largest United States Corporation by 2000. The company used shoddy, as well as, deceptive accounting practices so as to hide its financial losses. The technique used was that of structured finance in enriching some of its corporate officers in addition to hiding financial losses. There was creation of independent partnerships to which assets were sold to. This enabled the company to convert assets and loans that were burdened with debt obligations into income. However, the contracts with the partnerships had guarantees, as well as, risky conditions that were eventually disastrous for Enron (Fox, 2003).
Describe how Enron could have been structured differently to avoid such activities.
While Enron Corporation was among the largest global energy, services and commodities companies, the base of the company was the activities performed, which caused them their downfall. Enron management was very poor. There are certain activities that could have been done by experienced individuals to avoid pushing off on other management depts. It is hard to know what they were doing at the time, since the functions of the department of operations management was limited. It was like they did put off work to areas that they were not trained or familiar with the activities that went on in Enron (Mclean & Peter 2003).
Enron seem to have been highly praised by outside observers, however, internally it had financial control and decision-making structure that was highly decentralized. This made it impossible to acquire any coherent or clear view on its activities and operations. The problem could not have been entirely due to poor management. However, it should be noted that all the departments took part in the ruining corporate ethical values, as well as principles, but the managers and executives were the ones to take the major blame for the lack of corporate culture, transparency or clear accountability in the company. This means that, if operations management worked effectively or was given the opportunity to do so, their downfall could have been averted.
The major task of operations management should have been in the effective transformation of inputs into desired outputs of the company. It has been recognized recently that operations management is not limited with narrow functions. It is able to be deployed in any place where the organization wants to achieve its objectives. The operations sector is the core of the changes that are being made by large companies in the aim of improving their performance as well as increasing their customer base.
Discuss whether Enron's officers acted within the scope of their authority.
Enron's officers did not act within the scope of their authority, because the company had always been making its accounts and financial records as opaque as possible. This was done by the creation of a byzantine financial structure, which was off balance-sheet, in addition to special purpose entities, which were supposed to be independent and separate from the main company (Fox, 2003).
It was notable that, Enron's board of directors did nothing to stop the dubious accounting practices. On record, they permitted executives to help themselves to their personal interests, which were contrary to those of the corporation. Enron's financial auditors should have been on the frontline to spot these and other financial problems. It looks like Enron was involved in a dubious game.
It is evident that the fall of Enron was as a result of interrelated reasons. Many of the reasons were attached to poor functioning of operations, as well as, performance management. Despite the outside look, Enron was internally organized with a lot of shortcomings. This means that, its operations management had failed to provide or even advance control environment, which were positive. It did not strive into shaping the ethical value of the company, in addition to integrity, philosophy of management or strict accountability in its structure.
The corporate policies seemed to be wrong in their decisions, and did not comply with initial values of the company. The fact that there was strict and harsh hierarchy and performance evaluation system, which were created by chief executives did pervert the original values, as well as, ethical base of the Enron. The good virtues like integrity, respect, excellence and communication, were replaced with the aims of profiting, irrespective of means thereof. This encouraged employees to engage in different questionable practices. They were also rewarded for bringing income to Enron. It is imperative to note that the entire management took part in this process. They subordinated the functions that it was mandated to fulfill so as to become the newly-formed philosophy and value of the corporation.
Describe the corporate culture at Enron.
When in 1996, Jeffrey Skilling was the CEO; Enron's corporate culture was altered by the driven force of his personality. Skill management placed emphasis on risk-taking initiatives, as well as creative accounting methods which were designed in achieving short term results. This was aimed at pleasing Wall Street investors and analysts. The CEO's aggressive attitude towards the companies strategic goals ended up in him hiring and firing employees. This meant that traders were to choose between delivering high numbers using any means or their contracts be terminated. Reports suggested that the board of directors did create a culture of deception in the corporation.
It is as if the management lacked the understanding of whether the business model, which had been created, would support itself. Moreover, they did not know the source of their revenue (Cruver, 2003).
Discuss two alleged irregularities in the actions between sellers of securities and Enron.
Enron had deceitful bookkeeping records that kept the prices of its stock high, even when the top executives started selling off their share of holdings. Investors kept on investing because they did not know what was going on. Moreover, the slowdown in internet stocks and technology brought its stock down.
It should also be noted that, secrecy became the way for many of its trading contracts and its disclosures. Deals in finance were rapid and not much attention was paid to whether or not, they conformed to the strategic goals of the organization, and the risk management rules.
Discuss whether or not Enron was liable for the actions of its agents and employees.
In all aspects, Enron was liable for the actions of its agents and employees. Its employees were involved in dubious deals, and most importantly there were no mechanisms aimed at curbing this. All the dubious deals are what caused the downfall. Moreover, the bankruptcy was unprecedented and disastrous because Enron was considered to be a blue chip stock. The company's downfall was definite when it was realized that a large amount of its profits came from deals with special-purpose entities, which were limited partnership under Enron. This then resulted into non-reporting of the losses in its financial statements and receipts. Its last plan of bankruptcy was the creation of three new businesses that could be spun off the company.
In conclusion, the fall of Enron Corporation is shocking and infamous in the financial world history; its aftershocks were felt globally. It was among the leading US companies and considered to be among the top admired corporations, the most desired company to work for, and its board was recognized to be among the best five (Cruver, 2003).