From superstars to devils: The ethical discourse on managerial figures involved in a corporate scandal
(2015) Organization, 22 (1), pp. 78-99.
This article draws upon a growing body of Foucauldian-inspired literature on business ethics. Looking at the media as a prime site of dynamic discursive production in contemporary times, it offers an analysis of the underlying moral sensitivities and ethical frameworks characteristic of reports about the two top managerial figures involved in the Enron scandal: Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth L. Lay. Analysing Forbes and BusinessWeek articles, the article examines the sudden appearance of these managers as a heightened moral threat, asking what constellations of knowledge and meaning were expressed through the demonization of these once idealized managerial superstars. It shows that while speaking in the name of ethics, the examined discourse also undermines ethics in that it promulgates a largely paradoxical and ethically incapacitating concept of self and logic of action.
business ethics; discourse; Enron; Foucault; Lay; self; Skilling