Corporate ‘affluenza’—success can be a mighty enemy

Feb 28, 2014 | 07:00 PM | Michelle Applebaum

Tags  Analyst Corner, Michelle Applebaum, Affluenza, John P. McConnell,

It was truly chilling to read the account of a 16-year-old who killed four people while driving drunk. What was far more chilling was the success of his legal team’s creative defense to avoid jail time, what is now being called the “Affluenza” defense: the teenager’s sense of entitlement driven by the material successes of his overly permissive parents left him unable to understand that his actions had consequences.

Historically, not being able to understand the difference between right and wrong has been a successful defense used for those who might be mentally impaired; this was the first time the defense was used for someone whose impairment was driven by no more than the sense of entitlement he derived as a result of his parents’ successes in the material world.

Throughout my 30-plus years following the steel industry, I have seen a kind of “corporate affluenza” that similarly comes as a result of a sense of corporate entitlement that is a result of similar kinds of corporate successes that this youngster’s parents achieved.....

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