Magazine article USA TODAY

Do Scandals Endanger Natural Resources?

Magazine article USA TODAY

Do Scandals Endanger Natural Resources?

Article excerpt

The convictions of former Westar Energy executives David Wittig and Douglas Lake for looting the utility of millions of dollars should cause members of society to rethink the role of business and the kind of corporate leaders they want to be in charge of our scarce natural resources, suggests Diane Swanson, associate professor of management, Kansas State University, Manhattan.

She notes that it is particularly distressing to consider the facts of the Westar case, given that energy essentially is a public good and therefore in need of special protections and stewardship. "The case of Westar is not about the pilfering of a firm that sells a luxury good to the top strata of society," Swanson notes. "It involves a commodity needed for the basic functioning of all in society. In that respect, this case is particularly troublesome."

Swanson, who is spearheading a national campaign to emphasize the importance of ethics in business education, argues that, as society considers the proper role of corporations, it must take into account the role of top executives. "A true steward not only conserves scarce resources and directs them to their proper ends, but he or she also gives back to society. …

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