We add texture to the conclusion of Duchon and Drake (Journal of Business Ethics, 85, 2009, 301) that extreme narcissism is associated with unethical conduct. We argue that the special features possessed by financial accounting facilitate extreme narcissism in susceptible CEOs. In particular, we propose that extremely narcissistic CEOs are key players in a recurring discourse cycle facilitated by financial accounting language and measures. Such CEOs project themselves as the corporation they lead, construct a narrative about the corporation and themselves (...) using financial accounting measures, and then reflect on how their accounting-constructed performance is perceived by stakeholders. We do not present empirical evidence about whether the use of accounting language and measures leads to unethical behaviour by extreme narcissistic CEOs — although the conclusions of Duchon and Drake (2009) suggest empirical support is probable. Rather, we focus on developing alertness to the potential for accounting, when engaged by an extremely narcissistic CEO, to be a precursor or implement of unethical behaviour. (shrink)
Destructive narcissism is recognized increasingly as a serious impairment to good corporate leadership and ethical conduct. The Chief Executive Officer’s letter to shareholders (an important formal corporate communications medium) has potential to provide linguistic traces of destructive narcissism and insight to aspects of corporate leadership and the ambient ethical culture of a company. We demonstrate this potential through selective analyses of the letters of the Chief Executive Officers of Enron, Starbucks, and General Motors.
We explore the language of leadership of global media mogul Rupert Murdoch in 2010, the year before the phone-hacking scandal in the UK came to public attention. Subsequent public enquiries in the UK exposed unethical conduct by staff of News Corporation, a global corporation whose Chairman and CEO was Rupert Murdoch. We focus on the ethical climate fashioned by ‘A Letter from Rupert Murdoch’ that appeared in the opening pages of the annual report of News Corporation for the year ended (...) 30 June 2010. Plausibly, Murdoch’s discourse in that letter helped condition the inapt, unethical conduct of News Corporation staff. We highlight the cultural and ethical signs that were embedded in Murdoch’s letter and which reflected the company’s tone at the top and ethical values. We identify signs of a perverse leadership thinking that possibly help explain the inappropriate cultural values and ethical behaviours that were revealed subsequently in evidence presented to public inquiries. (shrink)
In "Action and Responsibility,'' Joel Feinberg pointed to an important idea to which he gave the label "the accordion effect.'' Feinberg's discussion of this idea is of interest on its own, but it is also of interest because of its interaction with his critique, in his "Causing Voluntary Actions,'' of a much discussed view of H. L. A. Hart and A. M. Honoré that Feinberg labels the "voluntary intervention principle.'' In this essay I reflect on what the accordion effect (...) is supposed by Feinberg to be, on differences between Feinberg's understanding of this idea and that of Donald Davidson, and on the interaction between Feinberg's discussion of the accordion effect and his critique of the voluntary intervention principle. (shrink)
The 14 essays assembled in this volume, along with their intensive scholarship, create somewhat the impression of a Who's Who of contemporary literary studies of Ralph Waldo Emerson and the American Transcendentalists. All has been brought together by Mott and Burkholder to honor Joel Myerson, with the words of Emerson's famous remark to Walt Whitman, "We greet You at the Mid-point of a Great Career" (p. xi). An authority on Transcendentalism, textual and bibliographical studies, Myerson has written, edited, or (...) co-edited nearly sixty books, including most recently, Emerson's Antislavery Writings (with Len Gougeon, 1995), The Selected Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1997), and the Later Lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson (with Ronald A. Bosco). The career, like the present book, provides a marvelous contemporary focus on the 19th century American literary renaissance. Anyone writing on Emerson's thought will best view this volume as essential reading. (shrink)
The famous mid-20th century debate between Patrick Devlin and Herbert Hart about the relationship between law and morality addressed the limits of the criminal law in the context of a proposal by the Wolfenden Committee to decriminalize male homosexual activity in private. The original exchanges and subsequent contributions to the debate have been significantly constrained by the terms in which the debate was framed: a focus on criminal law in general and sexual offences in particular; a preoccupation with the so-called (...) “harm principle,” a sharp delineation of the realms of law and morality, and a static conception of the relationship between them. This article explores the limitations imposed by these various starting-points and argues for a holistic and symbiotic understanding of the relationship between law and morality. (shrink)
H. B. D. Kettlewell's field experiments on industrial melanism in the peppered moth, Biston betularia, have become the best known demonstration of natural selection in action. I argue that textbook accounts routinely portray this research as an example of controlled experimentation, even though this is historically misleading. I examine how idealized accounts of Kettlewell's research have been used by professional biologists and biology teachers. I also respond to some criticisms of David Rudge to my earlier discussions of this case study, (...) and I question Rudge's claims about the importance of purely observational studies for the eventual acceptance and popularization of Kettlewell's explanation for the evolution of industrial melanism. (shrink)