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A Framework for Analyzing the Financial Crisis: Lessons from

JSME Vol 7: Issue 1, 2011

Author(s): Douglas W. Lyon (Fort Lewis College, USA), Eric G. Kirby and Susan L. Kirby (Texas State University, USA)

Abstract:
We are now almost ten years removed from the accounting scandals of the late 1990’s that brought down Enron and Arthur Andersen and sent the executives of many other corporate household names to jail. The 2008 Wall Street financial crisis has reinvigorated the discussion of business ethics in the classroom and the role and nature of the free market system to our collective prosperity. The study of the Enron /Arthur Andersen scandals of eight years ago can provide insights into the current sub-prime mortgage financial crisis. Many parallels can be seen. We propose one way to aid in a classroom exploration of these lessons is through the use of the movie “The Smartest Guys in the Room.” We have provided an analysis of the film and the current financial crisis from three distinct perspectives: (1) more regulation is necessary to avoid further crises, (2) the free market works better than any governmental intervention, and (3) a radical view that the entire system is set up to reinforce selfish behaviors, thereby making such crises inevitable. By including elements of all three perspectives into a classroom discussion, we believe that students will come to a richer understanding of past events and how they can inform current issues.

Keywords: classroom teaching, financial crisis, ethics, Enron scandal, video use

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