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What happened to ethical behavior in the era of the dot-com, the bubble, Enron, and WorldCom? We were not involved in close ethical calls in these cases. The lapses were great, the conflicts many, and the cost, in terms of investor trust, nearly unspeakable. Each time scandals occur, market reforms result, but the pattern is that, despite their extensive nature, the reforms do not bring us an insurance policy against misconduct. True reform lies not in statutory or codified detail. Rather, true reform comes from a strong moral compass that is applied by leaders who demonstrate ethical courage. True reform requires a focus on doing more than the law requires and less than the law allows.

About the Author(s)

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings is a member of the department of management in the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and is a professor of legal and ethical studies in business. She has written several books — including Business Strategy for the Political Arena and The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse — as well as numerous award-winning articles for publications such as the Wall Street Journal. Professor Jennings is a contributing editor for several publications and serves on the editorial board of the Financial Analysts Journal. She holds an undergraduate degree in finance and a JD degree from Brigham Young University.