Trust and Honesty: America's Business Culture at a Crossroad

Published by Oxford University Press, 2006

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America's culture is moving in a new and dangerous direction, as it becomes more accepting and tolerant of dishonesty and financial abuse. Tamar Frankel argues that this phenomenon is not new; in fact it has a specific traceable past. During the past thirty years temptations and opportunities to defraud have risen; legal, moral and theoretical barriers to abuse of trust have fallen. She goes on to suggest that fraud and the abuse of trust could have a widespread impact on American economy and prosperity, and argues that the way to counter this disturbing trend is to reverse the culture of business dishonesty. Finally, she presents the following thesis: If Americans have had enough of financial abuse, they can demand of their leaders, of themselves, and of each other more honesty and trust and less cynicism. Americans can reject the actions, attitudes, theories and assumptions that brought us the corporate scandals of the 1990s. Though American society can have "bad apples," and its constituents hold differing opinions about the precise meaning of trust and truth, it can remain honest, as long as it aspires to honesty.

For a review of the book Trust and Honesty, by Julian Franks and Colin Mayer in the Financial Times, January 19, 2006, See the "Conversations" Page.

Listen to an interview with Ken McCarthy, founder of the System, regarding Tamar's book Trust and Honesty:

What the experts are saying

"In this timely and thought-provoking book, Tamar Frankel points out the important role that social norms and attitudes play in good corporate governance. What makes a society dishonest, Frankel argues forcefully, is not merely fraud but a general acceptance of fraud; when market participants begin to assume that others will cut corners whenever they can get away with it, the trust needed for economic prosperity will be undermined. A well functioning corporate system, Frankel suggests, is not merely the presence of good legal rules but also general aspirations to honesty. The book makes the reader stop and think, and no one who reads it will fail to recognize the importance of the issues it raises."
Lucian Bebchuk, Harvard Law School

"A valuable contemporary contribution to longstanding inquiry about the optimal mix of markets and oversight in economic life; Tamar Frankel offers fresh perspectives emphasizing the role of honesty in the analysis."
Lawrence A. Cunningham, Boston College Law School

"Tamar Frankel sounds a warning that America's commitment to minimal standards of good faith in business dealing is being progressively eroded, with Enron and World Com being only the tip of a very large iceberg. Disturbingly this corruption has been tolerated or even justified by decision-makers and opinion formers. Frankel provides a diamond-clear analysis, drawing on a deep knowledge of law, business, ethics, philosophy, sociology, and economic theory. She has produced a compelling case for American business, law and economics to make an account of the soul and repent."
Dr. Joshua Getzler, Fellow and Lecturer

"Tamar Frankel has written a brilliant analysis of the ethical deterioration of corporate America and sets forth a practical way of redirecting our misguided culture. This immensely readable book pulls no punches in calling for a mass movement towards an 'honest society which will reap the rewards of honesty.'"
Arthur Levitt, Former Chairman
United States Securities and Exchange Commission

"Tamar Frankel's book, Trust and Honesty: America's Business Culture at a Crossroad, is a provocative and broad-sweeping assessment of American culture, especially business culture. Weaving together press stories, observations, and research from economics, law, psychology, and sociology, Frankel draws a disturbing conclusion: Those in positions in trust are less trust-worthy and our society is weakened by this trend."
Peter Tufano, Sylvan C. Coleman, Professor of Financial Management
Harvard Business School

Visit Oxford University Press or Amazon.com for book details.