Galbraith – Enron and the like Beyond Monitoring

Re-read the JK Galbraith article. (Blogged earlier)
“[Corporations like Enron have] grown so complex that [they are] now almost beyond monitoring …. there was almost no criticism from the shareholders ? the owners, [until they collapsed.]”. Galbraith detects something of the conspiracy of silence he recounted so memorably in his book The Great Crash: 1929, first published in 1955 but as readable today as it was then. “They remained very quiet,” he wrote of the financial luminaries of that era. “The sense of responsibility in the financial community for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil. To speak out against madness may be to ruin those who have succumbed to it. So the wise on Wall Street are nearly always silent. The foolish have the field to themselves and none rebukes them. [Just as 73 years ago] there’s still a tradition, a culture of restraint that keeps one from attacking one’s colleagues, one’s co-workers, no matter how wrong they seem to be.”
Perhaps I should rename the DeLorean effect, the Galbraith effect. Actually it’s the emperor’s suit of clothes effect anyway – the institutionalised conspiratorial cock-up. Argyris’ “avoidance-of-embarassment rationalisation of the irrational”.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.