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Final Accounting


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About the Author

Formerly the Partner-in-Charge of Ethics and Responsible Business Practices consulting services for Arthur Andersen, BARBARA LEY TOFFLER was on the faculty of the Harvard Business School and now teaches at Columbia University's Business School. She is considered one of the nation's leading experts on management ethics, and has written extensively on the subject and has consulted to over sixty Fortune 500 companies. She lives in the New York area. Winner of a Deadline Club award for Best Business Reporting, JENNIFER REINGOLD has served as management editor at Business Week and senior writer at Fast Company. She writes for national publications such as The New York Times, Inc and Worth and co-authored the Business Week Guide to the Best Business Schools (McGraw-Hill, 1999).


The doomed accounting firm of Arthur Andersen emerges as a grown-up version of Lord of the Flies in this fascinating insider exposi. Toffler, a Columbia Business School professor and an expert on management ethics, provides an engrossing history of the accounting firm, from its early days as an icon of financial probity to its demise after a drumroll of accounting scandals culminating in the Enron and WorldCom bankruptcies. But the book's greatest strength is the author's first-hand account of corporate corruption. Toffler spent four years at Andersen selling ethics consulting services to clients while her own ethics were affronted and compromised by the atmosphere at Andersen. As a consultant, Toffler wasn't involved in the auditing shenanigans that brought Andersen down, but there was sleaze a-plenty-outrageous over-billing and forcefully selling consulting services clients didn't need-in her bailiwick. Her observations of this sordid milieu, of bullying bosses, desperate sales pitches, jockeying for power and demeaning motivational hoopla, are both funny and revealing. Looking beyond the "bad apples" to the "rotten culture," Toffler blames Andersen's problems on an ethos of conformity and deference to senior managers, bizarre compensation schemes that set partners at each other's throats, and the relentless pressure for lucrative consulting tie-ins that made auditors acquiesce in clients' fraudulent bookkeeping. The result is a case study in "group dependency," in which moral chaos mounts as good people do nothing. Toffler's acerbic wit and keen analysis make this essential reading for anyone concerned with the profit-driven turpitude of corporate America. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Since Toffler was formerly the partner-in-charge of ethics and responsible business practices consulting services at Arthur Andersen, she'll have a lot to say. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"The sad demise of the once proud and disciplined firm of Arthur Andersen is an object lesson in how 'infectious greed' and conflicts of interest can bring down the best. Final Accounting should be required reading in every business school, beginning with the dean and the faculty that set the tone and culture."
-Paul Volker, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board

"This exciting tale chronicles how greed and competitive frenzy destroyed Arthur Andersen--a firm long recognized for independence and integrity. It details a culture that, in the 1990s, led to unethical and anti-social behavior by executives of many of America's most respected companies. The lessons of this book are important for everyone, particularly for a new breed of corporate leaders anxious to restore public confidence."
-Arthur Levitt, Jr., former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission "This may be the most important analysis coming out of the corporate disasters of 2001 and 2002. Barbara Toffler is trained to understand corporate 'cultures' and 'business ethics' (not an oxymoron). She clearly lays out how a high performance, manically driven and once most respected auditing firm was corrupted by the excesses of consulting and an arrogant culture. One can hope that the leaders of all professional service firms, and indeed all corporate leaders, will read and reflect on the meaning of this book."
-John H. Biggs, Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TIAA CREF "The book exposes the pervasive hypocrisy that drives many professional service firms to put profits above professionalism. Greed and hubris molded Arthur Andersen into a modern-day corporate junkie ... a monster whose self-destructive behavior resulted in its own demise."
-Todd Rodenhauser, founder and president of Consulting Information Services, LLC "An intriguing tale that adds another important dimension to the now pervasive national corporate governance conversation.
-Charles M. Elson, Edgar S. Woolard, Jr., Professor of Corporate Governance, University of Delaware "You could not ask for a better guide to the fall of Arthur Andersen than an expert on organizational behavior and business ethics who actually worked there. Sympathetic but resolutely objective, Toffler was enough of an insider to see what went on but enough of an outsider to keep her perspective clear. This is a tragic tale of epic proportions that shows that even institutions founded on integrity and transparency will lose everything unless they have internal controls that require everyone in the organization to work together, challenge unethical practices, and commit only to profitability that is sustainable over the long term. One way to begin is by reading this book.
-Nell Minow, Editor, The Corporate Library

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