The Anatomy of Corporate Fraud: A Comparative Analysis of High Profile American and European Corporate Scandals

Journal of Business Ethics 120 (2):251-274 (2014)
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This paper presents a comparative analysis of three American and three European corporate failures. The first part of the analysis is based on a theoretical framework including six areas of ethical climate; tone at the top; bubble economy and market pressure; fraudulent financial reporting; accountability, control, auditing, and governance; and management compensation. The second and third parts consider the analysis of these cases from fraud perspective and in terms of firm-specific characteristics and environmental context. The research analyses shed light on the fact that, despite major differences between Europe and U.S. in terms of political institutions, laws and regulations as well as managerial practices, there are significant similarities between six groups. The analysis also demonstrates that, the ethical dilemma has been coupled with ineffective boards, inefficient corporate governance and control mechanisms, distorted incentive schemes, accounting irregularities, failure of auditors, dominant CEOs, dysfunctional management behavior and the lack of a sound ethical tone at the top. Significant similarities were also observed in the analysis from the fraud triangle perspective. However, there are several major differences between the six corporate failure cases particularly with regard to ownership structure, coverage in media, and legal, regulatory and governance frameworks. This research study may have several academic and practical contributions, particularly because of multidisciplinary, international features, and comparative analyses used in the paper.



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