Yahoo

Debunking the myth of corporate competence

 

Among the disservices performed by the media — and particularly the embedded reporters and editors who cover corporations — is perpetuating a myth that has become pervasive in the American (and to a large part, global) public consciousness: namely, that most corporations are efficiently managed by highly competent people making the best possible decisions on the basis of data, analysis, and professional experience.

 

But as is the case with most "facts" purveyed in the business media, this idea is based not so much on first-hand knowledge or observation, but rather through second-hand self-reporting from the CEOs and companies themselves, and is frequently disproven by later reports to the contrary that almost always appear long after the hagiographies have been inculcated.

 

Case in point: The announcement that faltering Internet pioneer Yahoo was replacing yet another CEO — this time for falsifying his academic credentials on his resume (which the company certified as true in an annual filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission) — which came just a few days after JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon's admission that the company he runs had managed to lose at least $2 billion (which has since tripled to at least $6 billon) in an effort to "mitigate risk" in its investments (i.e., prevent it from losing money) using credit default swaps — the same volatile financial instruments that had been a key factor in the global economic collapse a few years earlier.

 

All of this all of this had a depressingly familiar ring to it, and echoed an article in the May 8 edition of Fortune magazine from James Bandler entitled "How Hewlett-Packard Lost Its Way", which offered yet another example of how even when the firmly embedded journalists of the business media finally bring themselves to report that the emperors of our economic aristocracy have no clothes, the myth of corporate competence and efficiency somehow always manages to resurrect itself and keep staggering on, like a hockey-masked killer in a horror movie.

 

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