Incentives: from the case, the SEC staff claimed that the top Waste Management officers’ fraudulent conduct was driven by greed and a desire to retain their corporate positions and status in the business and social communities. Their bonuses, retirement benefits and stock options closely correlate with the performance of the company. If the company meets predetermined earnings targets, those top managements will earn a lot from profit sharing. Furthermore, aside from money, those people can maintain their high social status by constantly using those ill-gotten gains to contribute to charitable affairs, which will give them a lot of respect and power. Opportunities: during the 1990s, approximately 14 employees who play either key financial or accounting positions are former employees of the company’s long-time auditor, Arthur Andersen. This management structure gave Waste Management a great opportunity to manipulate their financial performance because we can infer that Waste Management maintained a good relationship with its auditor. Attitudes/Rationalization: it was a time when Waste Management was encountering intense competition. The competition came from various sources in all phase of its waste management and related operations. Although the management of Waste Management noted that the pricing, quality, and reliability of services and the type of equipment utilized are key elements to compete in the industry. Those improvements usually take time to accomplish. In contrast, deferring several expenses and manipulating earnings are shortcuts to improve their financial performance. In addition, the management believes that the future performance will offset the extra earnings they currently adjusted so that nobody will even notice.
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