Connect with us

Business

Gowex and Gotham City: Stories Batman Wants Us to Learn

Published

on

gowex Once again, the good faith of many people was challenged due to the latest news item: the bankruptcy of Gowex. The company had led the Mercado Alternativo Bursátil (MAB) as a benchmark on this alternative stock market after multiplying its value 18-fold since it was first launched in March 2010. And though it boasted a market capitalization of €1.44 billion only a few hours before this Greek tragedy unraveled, it has now joined what appears to be an endless list of corporate frauds. Its founder, Jenaro García, was forced into a corner by the information released by an unknown foreign analyst that questioned the veracity of his account figures. Hours after confirming that all the figures in the report were false, he was forced to accept the sad truth: he had been consistently falsifying the accounts over the previous years (at least the four years the company was listed on the MAB). Although the accounts did not reflect reality, no one had detected the fraud. Not the auditors, the tax authorities or, it goes without saying, the company’s board of directors. He had fooled nearly 5,000 minor shareholders who had trusted him with their savings, not to mention institutional investors, some of which are respectable, well-known names in the Spanish financial sector. Once more, the alarms did not go off on time and the same old story was repeated:

  • Regulators did not do their job (auditors, board of directors and, in this case, the MAB).
  • Supervision systems failed once again and need to be closely examined to determine what went wrong and what should be changed.
  • A complex financial engineering system enables some people to continue lying year after year.
  • Accounts everyone loved that were used as an example of extraordinary management. While similar companies had trouble with major losses, Gowex reported increased income and two-digit profit figures year after year on a market with reduced margins from a product like free Wi-Fi sold to the public sector.

It is not a Typical Case: Gotham City Research However, there is something that stands out in the fall of this Spanish company. It was not a case of financial strangulation typical of the failure of a business model held up by lies. It was the result of the report of an unknown research company that has issued only eight reports since it was founded just a year ago. Its name, Gotham City Research, contains a reference to the city where the Batman comic book figure performed his humanitarian actions.

Batman logo. Author: Shane Becker
Batman logo. Author: Shane Becker

Gotham City Research said that Gowex’s shares (which had reached the price of €28 per share on March 28, 2014) were actually worthless. It claimed that 90% of the company’s sales had not actually occurred and that estimated real sales were worth less than €10 million compared to the €182.6 million reported by the company in its 2013 accounts. That’s a big discrepancy. In fact, it’s too big. Where did they get this information? Was it confidential information or perhaps privileged information that was inaccessible to the rest of the market? Why did all other analysts continue advising people to buy Gowex shares? Or was it actually libelous information designed to weaken the share on the market and take advantage of its drop in position over the short term? The speed of subsequent actions confirmed in just a few days what nobody had dared to think: the worst predictions in the report were true. It was a case of David against Goliath. A company acting in the spirit of Batman, almost Quixote-like, was once again perfectly right. It did not have access to classified information. It had merely used the available information in a critical way and had questioned whatever deserved questioning. It had previously done the same to four other international quoted companies. A New Player in the Town In this way, a kind of anonymous hero has emerged to make people aware of fraudulent corporate situations by making up for the deficiencies of regulators and traditional analysis companies. There’s a new player in town. “We were victims of these corporate fraudsters. We believe this isn’t right, and that the world needs someone to expose these crooks,” in the words of Daniel Yu, the company’s founder. Yu responded by email to The Wall Street Journal in an article published on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. “And so, just as Batman catches criminals (and then submits them to the authorities) using little more than his wit and some nice gadgets, Gotham City Research was born.” However, not everyone thinks Gotham City was being altruistic when it issued its report, given its past practices of benefiting from company failures. We could start a discussion about Gotham City’s real motives: the spirit of the comic book hero or the lucrative spirit of any company. If they’ve broken any laws, the justice system will have to take action. But let’s not avert our attention from what really matters.

Car on the set of The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan's final Batman movie (2011). Photo: Timothy Krause
Car on the set of The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s final Batman movie (2011). Photo: Timothy Krause

The fact that Gotham City had a vested interest does not make these two basic questions less important: Was what they said in the report true? and Why didn’t those responsible for supervising and protecting all the people who risked their money with Gowex do their job? Before we shoot the messenger, let’s make sure we completely understand the message. Especially as we discover in amazement that the founder of the company had been very carefully orchestrating his actions to falsify his accounts for years. Someone should have been able to detect what the messenger is telling us now, regardless of its intentions. But it’s not just the regulators who need to learn a lesson. As individuals, we should all think about our own behavior and what we can take away from this situation:

  1. We have to do our homework and think with a critical spirit before making investments and not just take what the market says for granted. “Do not accept answers from the company as unquestionable truths,” recommends Gotham City Research to investors so they do their homework and analyze all the data in detail. They did not have more data than anyone else. They just did their homework and made a good interpretation of data that simply didn’t match.
  2. We should trust in common sense and shy away when companies use complex mechanisms to justify their unbelievable results. One of the basic investment principles used by Warren Buffet is never enter into a business you don’t understand.
  3. We should not forget the importance of street wisdom. Distrust snake charmers who promise things that are not possible, even if they are able to fool the ambitious and the naive. Don’t believe things that are simply not possible. Moderate your ambition and desire for magic dreams.

In the meantime, organizations should continue cultivating and strengthening the values of corporate transparency and corporate governance . Public authorities should help end impunity and demand that companies and directors take responsibility for their actions so it is not so profitable for them to commit fraud. The spirit of the comic book hero can be seen behind the words in the Gotham City Research press release, issued right after the founder of Gowex confessed: “May Truth, Justice (and not vengeance), Restoration and Redemption prevail.” Do we have a new messenger and protector? “We believe it is foolish to bet against humanity and human ingenuity over the long term,” they said. In any case, each of us should take care not to act naively over the short and long term, but with wisdom and common sense. And in the meantime, regulators should seriously try to do a better job.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Business

How much does it cost to be ethical? What is the cost of corruption?

Published

on

By

The opposite day, my 10 year-old son requested me how a lot it prices to be moral.  Not likely a shocking query for the son of an ethics professor, however one which has no straightforward reply. So, how can we measure the impression of doing the correct factor?

Contributing to the welfare of others and your individual is frankly, a priori, a broad query.  If I had been to reply my son’s query in a easy manner, I’d attempt to flip the query round and as a substitute ask, what occurs if I don’t do the correct factor? What’s the price of corruption?

Stop Corruption, by kmillard92.
Cease Corruption, by kmillard92.

On the one hand, anybody can communicate freely about variations in notion, and there are research in regards to the notion of corruption.  But once we attempt to apply statistics and actual numbers to this phenomenon, its very nature impedes us from accessing these numerical values; its obscurity and lack of transparency leaves no path to comply with, typically because of the varied and inventive means corruption has of additional selling different corrupt practices past the financial (presents, journeys, particular favors, and many others.).

So what prices does corruption incur?  The price of corruption is far more than monetary; it’s also social, political, environmental and human:

  • Monetary: Corruption has a direct impression on the wealth of countries, diverting funds to “non-public” functions, as a substitute of to the frequent good.  It additionally generates an underground economic system, dissuading overseas funding (in accordance with Transparency Worldwide, dropping one index level results in dropping the equal of 0.5% of GDP in overseas funding) and inspiring capital flight.
  • Social: It additionally corrodes belief, not solely in establishments, but additionally in individuals.  It generates frustration, apathy, discourages the entrepreneurial spirit, accentuates social inequities and promotes organized crime.
  • Political: Corruption is likely one of the biggest obstacles to democracy and the rule of legislation.
  • Environmental:  Unacceptable practices in developed international locations are additionally carried out in creating international locations, along with the overall pillaging of pure sources.
  • Human: It damages human nature and creates a rift between human beings and their final objective.

If we focus simply on the monetary value, within the Nineties Enterprise Week printed the outcomes of a College of California examine that exposed the precise value of corruption.  For instance, accepting a bribe or giving in to extortion to hurry up licensing procedures or to acquire a public contract led to a 3 to 10 % improve in charges.  In the long run, the products and companies topic to corruption had been 20 -100% dearer.

In 2003, the U.N. signed the primary worldwide anti-corruption treaty.  At the moment the Related Press gathered quotes that illustrated the extent and gravity of corruption in lots of international locations:

Corruption … has ruined our colleges and hospitals [..] It has destroyed our agriculture and industries. It has ‘eaten up’ our roads and jobs. … It has destroyed our society.”  Justice Minister, Kenya.

Anthony Value, The U.N.’s prime anti-crime official, made the next observations:

“Zaire and Nigeria, two of Africa’s hardest-hit states, have misplaced some $5 billion every in the previous couple of years to graft, most of it spirited out of these international locations.”

“In Pakistan, an estimated 30 % of the value of all public works initiatives goes to kickbacks and bribes.”

“In Bangladesh, corruption eats up a whopping 50 % of overseas funding.”

In 2004, Daniel Kaufmann, the World Financial institution Institute International Governance Director, revealed that all through the world multiple trillion U.S. {dollars} ($1,000,000,000,000) had been paid yearly in bribes, not together with misappropriation of public funds or embezzlement.  This determine estimates bribes paid each in wealthy international locations and creating international locations.

Did You Say "Bribe"?, by Chris Potter (StockMonkeys.com)
Did You Say “Bribe”?, by Chris Potter (StockMonkeys.com)

Kaufmann noticed that the whole financial sum of corrupt transactions was only one a part of the whole value of corruption, which in and of itself is a serious obstacle to the discount of poverty, inequality and toddler mortality in rising economies.  Different insights that got here out of this examine included how in the long term the nationwide incomes of nations that battle corruption and enhance the rule of legislation can improve as much as 4 occasions. On the identical time, the examine discovered that such efforts would result in a 75% lower in toddler mortality.

In 2009, Transparency Worldwide printed a report that discovered that corruption in Eire value the state three billion kilos.  In the meantime, in Italy the Court docket of Auditors confirmed that authorities corruption value 60 million euros per 12 months.  Within the U.Okay., the Nationwide Fraud Authority quantified fraud at 73 billion GBP in 2012.  On the European degree, in 2013 the E.U. estimates that corruption all through the 27 member states prices 120 billion euros per 12 months. In Spain, a current examine positioned the social value of corruption at 40 billion euros.

Whereas it’s troublesome to understand corruption’s monetary impression, these numbers do assist to make clear the gravity of the phenomenon.  Fascinated about the price of corruption in relative phrases can also be enlightening.  For instance, if we refer again to the determine cited by Kaufmann – $ 1 trillion USD – and we evaluate it with the $150 million USD in worldwide assist provided for catastrophe aid following the current storm within the Philippines, the pressing have to fight corruption is kind of evident.

Going again to my son’s query, and with out dropping sight of the bigger and better motives past the financial that justify working in direction of good, the figures cited earlier do certainly assist me to reply his query: Many good issues rely on our doing good.  By making brave and trustworthy selections, we are able to rework actuality and create not only a extra simply world, but additionally a happier one.

Continue Reading

Business

General Management Standing its Ground

Published

on

By

IESE Business SchoolOne of the most valuable legacies that the founders of IESE created is the institution’s general management focus, both for teaching and other business activities.  Long before, Chester Barnard, a prominent pioneer in the field of management who brought together executive experience and humanistic training, alluded to a similar focus, emphasizing that in the management process “the sensing of the organization as a whole and the total situation relevant to it,” is indispensable.

The general management perspective views an organization as a whole, integrating strategy , finance, operations, and marketing in addition to all the other functions of a company.  This approach requires stepping away from narrow perspectives centered solely upon one area – whether strategy, finance or marketing – and the factors characteristic to each.  The result is running the risk of overlooking the company as a whole.

Within this perspective, business ethics, as I discussed in Business Ethics in Action, views the general manager’s role as that of someone managing a community of people who provide products, create wealth and serve society, doing so fairly and justly.  Promoting human excellence and efficiency as an approach to organize, act and interact with others, business ethics, above all, guides senior management, encouraging it to always seek the common good in business and society through all of its actions.

This general management and business ethics perspective is not unique to IESE.  However, opposing tendencies have been prevalent in the international realm for some time, especially in business schools, particularly “Strategic Management courses displacing “General Management” courses.

748px-Eisenhower_d-day
General Dwight D. Eisenhower addresses American paratroopers prior to D-Day.

Inspired by military lingo, the notion of “strategy” was introduced into business schools more than 50 years ago.  Later it gelled into courses on “Strategic Management” and in the creation of the corresponding academic departments.  The argument that justified the resulting exclusion of “General Management” courses and departments (which had formerly incorporated strategy) was that strategic management was at the core of general management, or at least it was its main function.  In some business schools the process took place merely to mirror what some prestigious U.S. institutions had done.

Although there are diverse emphases and definitions, generally, strategic management refers to all of the aspects that affect the company, taking the competitive context in which the organization exists into consideration.  The approach attempts to adapt the business organization to its surroundings, seeking opportunities and confronting competitors and possible competitive threats.  Strategic management, then, tends to be the compass for all of senior management’s and the entire organization’s activityThis tendency places businesses at risk of reducing general management to one of its components, and in this way, substituting the whole with one of its parts.

The problem is that strategy is always a means; it is a strategy “to achieve” an ends, generally financial.  What is important is to be successful in attaining the particular objective that the strategy is targeting.  Often there is a tendency to step back from other business elements.  For example, there are strategy books that examine the strategy Madonna implemented to achieve success or how companies like Wal-Mart have succeeded.  For some strategic management professors, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War makes the top of the reading list, characterizing competitors as the enemies to defeat.  Others may not go to this extreme, yet they do see strategy as the essence to achieve financial gain wherever it may be.  Fortunately, there are still plenty of reasonable people – here at IESE amongst them – who know that strategy has a place within a larger context , and in practice, they maintain their general management bearings.

Does ethics have a place within strategic management?

With some good will, indeed, but as an add-on.  It can be included, ethically evaluating the ultimate purpose of the strategy or resolving ethical dilemmas that its implementation presents.  But it can also easily be omitted, perhaps leaving ethics to the business ethics course alone, saving the discussion about strategy from scrutiny.

Ricardo Currás (Dia) at IESE
Ricardo Currás (DIA)

Fortunately, today there are plenty of leaders who understand strategy’s role within a broader contextRicardo Currás, Executive Director of DIA, a Spanish company that began as a family-run shop and today is a multinational with 44,000 employees, is one of them.  In his November 15 visit to IESE he declared that he “didn’t believe in strategy” and that, “strategy is a word that has become a bit stale because it confines you to a straitjacket. Today you can’t predict the impact you will have on your company’s future. I do, however, believe in direction, in the path that may be the best to take. In addition to sketching strategic plans, we need to continually remind ourselves where we are and where we are going.”

Another great executive, Bill George, CEO of the successful high-tech medical company Medtronic based in Minnesota, defined his company as “a mission-driven company, a values-centered organization and an adaptable business strategy.”

This, I believe, should once again become the general management perspective.  Certainly we should not forget strategy.  Instead, we should emphasize a well thought-out mission centered on enduring values that can solidify over time .  Strategy should support this endeavor, not hold general management back.

Continue Reading

Business

Machiavellian Management Ethics: 500 years of “The Prince”

Published

on

By

What is more important for business success: behaving ethically or earning a good reputation?  What then is the role of ethics in the context of business management?

For quite some time “business is business” was en vogue.  Yet the financial crisis and other scandals led us to a situation where social responsibility, sustainability and good reputation are appealing and part of any successful business. But this new trend does not give by itself an answer to our question. The point —some will say— is what we understand by success. And the answer to that takes us back to Renaissance Italy.

Until the Italian cinquecento the common assumption in Christian Europe was that eternal salvation was way more important than earthly success (power, money, pleasure). So no one dared to give a clear answer in public to our question, although almost everybody knew the unpleasant truth.

Niccolò Machiavelli, Business Ethics IESE Blog
Niccolò Machiavelli

Niccoló Machiavelli, a Florentine diplomat, gave his own response in The Prince —a little treaty written five hundred years ago and published posthumously in 1532. Antony Jay translated it into contemporary business management language in his acclaimed book Management and Machiavelli (1967).

The Prince is popularly known as an apology of fraud and manipulation in political action. But we should read it carefully. Carl Schmitt, a well know follower of Machiavelli’s political realism, once wrote: “Machiavelli, had he been a Machiavellian, would sooner have written an edifying book rather than his ill-reputed Prince.”

For sure, Machiavelli always thought religion and morals were crucial for political life. But he broke with the moral teachings of Christian tradition, stating that leaders had to learn (unlearn) how to violate morals to obtain good political results. He thus cut the link between political prudence and ethics, considering politics the science of power. This was not a mere apology of immorality, but something needed for the greater or basic good of peaceful social life: “The ends justify the means.

Weber rationalized this moral approach as the politician’s “ethics of responsibility,” opposed to the saint’s “ethics of conviction.” This has some features in common with what English philosophy called utilitarianism (closely linked to economic logics); Americans later labeled as consequentialism (so many times invoked in security and defense issues); and Germans significantly call Erfolgsethik (ethics of success).

Leo Strauss, a remarkable and original interpreter of Machiavelli, wrote “Economism is Machiavellianism come to age.”  At the end of the day the paradigm of individuals as maximizers of utility is based on the self-interest centered man of Machiavelli .

Cover page of 1550 edition of Machiavelli's Il Principe
Cover page of 1550 edition of Machiavelli’s Il Principe

But Machiavelli was aware of the importance of moral reputation. He thought that a leader should be believed as morally trustworthy if he wanted to gain and preserve power. Moreover, he fought against corruption and in favor of civic virtue. But this ancient virtue was for him only the shell of Christian virtues: He viewed the strength of the lion and the astuteness of the fox as models to be followed.

So in fact an immoral business culture is not Machiavellian at all. The current lack of trust and widespread corruption is even less Machiavellian than we think . On the contrary, social responsibility, sustainability and reputation are a perfectly Machiavellian response to the crisis. This is actually Machiavellianism at its best: successful.

So The Prince is not to be read as a handbook for political maneuvering, or as a mere defense of arbitrariness. That approach would make us incapable of understanding the lasting and deep impact of Machiavellianism in contemporary politics, and by the way, in the practice of Business Management.

Summing up, there are three elements of Machiavellianism in our current ethical landscape:

  • The stress on reputation, with no real care for actual moral behaviour
  • The centrality of success as practical criterion, and the utility of strength and astuteness for achieving that goal.
  • The narrow materialistic approach to human action (economism).

What is more important for business success: behaving ethically or earning a good reputation? What then is the role of ethics in the context of business management?

Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Machiavelli was right in many senses. The mere appearance of virtue is enough for achieving certain goals by taking advantage of necessitá (opportunities) and weathering the unforeseeable random factors of Fortuna. Aquinas himself knew that, and warned against the moral danger of corrupted forms of prudence (fraud, astuteness, deceit, etc.) precisely because they were compatible with apparent success. And classical wisdom reminds us, “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion,” since good reputation is a moral good and even a right of the person.

So the answer to our original question depends on our definition of success. In the first instance, ethics is about defining success.

Make no mistake: We still live within a Machiavellian framework . For many of us business success is the material, measurable, earthly outcome that requires certain management abilities and the adequate administration of social legitimacy. For that reason Business Ethics should focus on re-defining success , placing management and business activity in the broader context of individual, corporate and social life considered as a whole.

Otherwise we will be assuming the Machiavellian definition of success. And that will limit the role of Ethics to an extrinsic moralizing code that has nothing to do with practice.

 

 

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Language Edu News

php shell hacklink php shell seo instagram takipçi satın al php shell ucuz takipçi satın al plak alanlar Tümbet aspercasino okey oyna