Conscientious Objections to Corporate Wrongdoing
20 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2019
Date Written: Spring 2019
In recent years, there has been increasing concern about unethical conduct within corporate business, not least because of the scandalous behavior of former chief executives at top blue chip companies such as Enron, Worldcom, Parmalat, and Volkswagen. These scandals have not only threatened the privileged position of senior corporate employees but also the solvency of the companies they manage and lead. The high profile cases of corporate crime and corruption that occurred in the early 2000s together with the 2008 Wall Street bailouts and the growth in criminal prosecutions since have raised the profile of business ethics to an unprecedented level. Greater public sensitivity toward and awareness about the unlawful and immoral conduct of firms in the United States and elsewhere, has created demand for organizations to become more accountable and socially responsible and prompted greater regulatory scrutiny. It has also served to highlight the embryonic and delimited state of research and scholarship on business ethics, where the focus has tended to remain on leadership. A neglected, though important, line of ethical enquiry concerns followership. Corporate wrongdoing would be less formidable and extensive if it was not aided and abetted. Two key questions arise. First, what prompts followers to support rather than oppose bad leaders? Second, what can be done to stem or at least curtail their allegiance to bad leaders?
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