Antisocial personality and accounting scandals

American psychiatric association has published diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. This manual classifies personality disorders.

One such personality disorder is antisocial personality disorder.A person suffering this may show following behavioural patterns:
1. Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviours as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.
2. Deception, as indicated by repeatedly lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
3. Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

Executive coach David Dotlich calls such personality as “Mischievousness”. Such employees often act impulsively and are so caught up in the cleverness of their ideas that they don’t assess the ramification. For them rules are only suggestions and certainly don’t apply to them.

ethics 2

Examples of such personalities in corporate world are not hard to find. CEOs and CFOs of companies like Enron, Worldcom, Tyco, Satyam, Lehman Brothers, Waste Management etc. felt nothing wrong in breaking law, resulting in accounting scandals which came in different forms like overstated sales/revenue/assets, falsifying accounting results, improper accounting, financial misstatements etc.


They were so caught up with their financial wizardry to grow their company (and their personal wealth) that they had no concern for stake holders who suffered because of these scandals i.e. shareholders and employees. Many after getting arrested felt that they had done nothing wrong.


All these companies had rules; code of ethical conduct etc. but CEOs & CFOs felt that they were applicable to other employees, not them.


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