Enron, Titanic, and the Perfect Storm

23 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2004

See all articles by Nancy B. Rapoport

Nancy B. Rapoport

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law


In this article, I explore the contention of Jeffrey Skilling, former Enron CEO, that Enron's debacle was due to a perfect storm of events. I reject his contention, arguing instead that Enron's downfall was more like Titanic's - hubris and an over-reliance on checks and balances led to Enron's downfall. I then explore how character (especially of those at the top of an organization) can lead to Enron-like disasters, and I talk about how cognitive dissonance can lead to very smart people making very stupid decisions. I end with some musings about how lawyers can learn from Enron.

Keywords: Enron, professional responsibility, lawyers, corporate culture, cognitive dissonance, Titanic

JEL Classification: M14, M52, Q40

Suggested Citation

Rapoport, Nancy B., Enron, Titanic, and the Perfect Storm. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=498122

Nancy B. Rapoport (Contact Author)

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law ( email )

4505 S. Maryland Parkway
Box 451003
Las Vegas, NV 89154-1003
United States
713-202-1881 (Phone)
702-895-2482 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.unlv.edu

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