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Deconstructing the notion of blame in corporate failure

By John Pal, Dominic Medway and John Byrom

Abstract

Corporate failure is the subject of considerable academic debate since the 1960s. Failure in the retail sector receives less attention however. This paper addresses the notion of blame in corporate failure. Reference to A Goldberg and Sons, a failed retailer, exemplifies the discussion. Prior to bankruptcy in 1990, this firm was a successful Scottish department store and clothing retailer. The study takes a historical approach, using in-depth interviews, archival material, and other secondary data sources. Findings reveal that, despite warning signs from various key performance indicators and external reviews, the company's board failed to act appropriately. A series of bad strategic decisions contributed to the company's failure. In line with theories of blame attribution, through their (in)actions, the board's negligence played a major role in the firm's demise.Corporate failure Retailing Blame Culpability

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