The Rise of the Rogue Executive: How Good Companies Go Bad and How to Stop the Destruction is a hard-hitting book by Professors Leonard Sayles and Cyndia Smith. The book takes a strong stand against the lack of ethics in contemporary American businesses. It describes, in great detail, the ethical lapses committed by American businesses in the last few years. The authors’ case is that the rogue executive is not an exception at the upper, or lower, echleons of American business, and many sections of our society must accept responsibility in the prevalence of white collar crime. The authors’ critique the role of business schools, press and journalists, investors, regulators, Congress and governments, auditors and consultants, and the larger public in supporting and encouraging unethical business practices. The book concludes with a discussion of how the authors believe things can be fixed and changed.
The book was written long before many of the unethical business practices that occupy the front pages of our newspapers today occured: Bernie Madoff’s largest Ponzie scheme, the fall of Satyam founder Ramalingam Raju. Messers Sayles and Smith provide an in-depth examination of some of the things that are wrong with American businesses today, and many of the issues they discuss apply equally well to businesses in many developed and emerging economies that are imitating (or at least trying to imitate) American capitalism. The one major shortcoming of the book is repetitiveness- Examples are repeated in different places in the book and parts of the book seem very similar to other parts. Despite such drawbacks, the book is a must read for anyone interested in understanding and improving business ethics.