Patterns of Corruption

Patterns of Corruption

This post is particularly aimed at other professors who teach business ethics. I was on YouTube and found a film by Adam Curtis called The Great British Housing Disaster and it is a business ethics masterpiece. Here’s a piece of if  –

The very banality and consistency in the greed and incompetence of the malefactors here is amazing and in my experience, I have found that attitude commonplace in this country as well.

The film tells the story of how Britain decided to build a great deal of housing in a very short period of time and how that gave opportunity for unscrupulous contractors to build sub-standard housing. It takes you through the whole process from politics at the national level to the local and then, architects, contractors,workers and regulators. We are shown the building process and we see, in this case literally, the “concrete” results of the corruption.

I like the film because it’s well done and because it’s historical. I don’t want to be too topical,  too current, when teaching. When all the students have decided already what they think, it makes teaching more difficult. If you give them history and ethics, you have the opportunity of showing how corruption and incompetence follow particular patterns, and you see these patterns over and over again. If you watch the patterns, you can see the corruption as it develops in many other situations.

Now obviously I do teach on some current events but I prefer to use a film and a subject original to the students so they all begin at the same place.

For those of you who don’t teach, it’s a very fine piece of documentary film making and it is the first work listed in Wikipedia for Adam Curtis. So, it is kind of a preview of his later career.

James Pilant

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