Internal Control of Managerial Integrity: Beyond Accounting Systems

by James Waters, Peter Chant



The last decade has witnessed an unprecedented number of public disclosures of illegal and unethical activities by corporate managers. A recent Fortune study, limited to major U.S. corporations and to cases of domestic wrong doing, revealed that, since 1970, 11 percent of the 1,043 firms studied had been involved in at least one documented illegality. The author of the study pointed out that if smaller firms had been studied or if cases of foreign bribes and kickbacks had been included, the percentage of offenders would have been much higher. The FCPA has generated significant controversy, and the extent to which it is enforced may be a political question. However, in the long run, the act may be most significant as a harbinger of increasingly stringent societal demands on corporations for control of managerial conduct. At this point, it would seem to deny that senior corporate managers are being held increasingly responsible for the legality and ethical propriety of all corporate actions. The training of new employees could emphasize the importance of questioning suspected illegal and unethical practices, and could introduce them to the proper channels for raising those questions.

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