Editorial: Sign of the times?

The day this column went to press couple of news headlines, not large ones, announced that hacker had accessed 5000 American credit card holders’ accounts presumably with the intention of rifling them and, 10 of Australia’s chief executives had garnered $72 million in salaries last year. The fact that one of these CEOs, an American named Rupert Murdoch, topped the list with an almost $20 million pay packet despite delivering record loss of around $15 billion for his News Corporation shareholders, hardly seemed to matter. Crime, particularly electronic, is busting out all over. Its rate of growth is exceeded in percentage terms only by increases in levels of executive remuneration. Is there any correlation? Why are fraud and greed on parallel course to the heavens?

Management’s associate editor Vicki Jayne was assigned to check out the statistical and functional realities of corporate crime. She found, understandably, that while it has been around since, as she puts it, tills were provided to dip hands into, it is now thriving business sector. And the exponents of the art – or is it practice – come from every corner of society, but particularly the electronically advanced. “Some see it as sign of the times,” she writes. Why? What exists in our society now that an increase in corporate crime is an indicator of the state of our world? Our working lives might be more stressful but we are hardly on the bread line, predicament which previously prompted illegal acquisition.

Jayne’s inquiries uncovered fascinating facts about corporate crime and how badly directors and management deal with what is becoming the biggest business issue of our age. Organisational leaders try, for range of reasons, to sweep criminal activity under the corporate carpet. They also seem reluctant to assign any causal link between the public messages that examples of boardroom banditry at the top end of the corporate chain send and the growing incidence of criminal activity further down the ranks. For some insight into this darker side of the management persona we turned to world expert on the subject, professor Manfred Kets de Vries at INSEAD International Business School. His interview appears on page 50.

It is not all bad news in this issue of Management. Jayne also talked to high-flying Kiwi manager who thinks he now understands why his fellow countrymen and women do so well in management positions around the world. She met software success story’s Richard Mathews who travels light – without cultural baggage. Turn to page 44.

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