Journal of Business Ethics 13 (1):21 - 30 (1994)

With cach successive generation of management, managers have been faced with different goals dictated by that current society''s needs and mores. For example, in the early 1900''s, industrial growth was essential to society''s needs; at the same time, such growth would not be hampered by social costs that were perceived as unimportant. Those social costs viewed as unimportant have not been properly factored into the cost of goods produced. Therefore, the products sold were underpriced, failing to reflect their true social costs. Additionally, this miscalculation or misappropriation of such costs caused a misallocation of resources, such as the manufacturing of asbestos without regard to future health costs. Finally, the payment for the miscalculation of these social costs is due: present day management is now forced to provide a viable solution for payment of debts incurred by previous management. The most notable examples of such misappropriation are provided in the Manville, A. H. Robins and Continental cases. Unfortunately, the choice is often limited to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.This article views the solution of Chapter 11 bankruptcy from three perspectives: legal, managerial, and moral. The legal review consists of the law and the current jurisprudence. Particularly emphasized are cases dealing with the discharge of executory contracts, tort claims and debts both secured and unsecured. Additionally, an examination of implementing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan from the viewpoint of current management is made. Closely associated with both the legal and managerial aspects of this issue is the moral facet of using bankruptcy as a management tool. The broad question is: how prevalent and how reasonable is it for management to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy to manipulate the corporation''s creditors, employees, and stockholders to achieve management''s desired end.
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DOI 10.1007/BF00877151
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