South-Western - Management  
Enron's Dirty Laundry
Topic Internal Environment and Culture
Key Words Rebecca Mark, Jeffrey Skilling, corporate culture
InfoTrac Reference A83515926
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News Story

The culture at Enron, described here as sex-drenched and out-of-control, was in large part due to the behavior of its executives. Rebecca Mark was an anomaly in the male dominated oil and gas business. Known as "Mark the Shark," her dealmaking ability was legendary. Mark's strategy was to buy or create and develop power plants and sell the electricity they made.

To celebrate the development of the Enron power plant in India, Mark brought a small elephant into a resort outside Houston and arrived at the same meeting dressed in leather on a Harley Davidson.

Skilling was her biggest rival within Enron. His strategy was to rid the company of concrete assets like power plants, focusing instead on trading everything from gas and electricity to water and broadband capacity.

Skilling was the main architect of Enron's culture. His recruits talked about a socialization process called "Enronizing," which did not include family time or quality of life outside the company. Anybody who did not embrace the culture was subject to a blistering job review at the annual "rank-and-yank" session. Former CIA and FBI agents were hired to monitor emails and confiscate computers. Paranoia reigned.

Parties at Enron were extravagant, often involving expensive booze and strippers. Interoffice affairs were commonplace, feeding the paranoia that there were spies in the company.


What do you think the culture at Enron had to do with the business practices that took place? Would you have been enjoyed working at Enron? Why or why not?

Source "Enron's Dirty Laundry," Newsweek, March 11, 2002, p. 22.
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