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According to The BBC, Bell Pottinger, the beleaguered PR Agency, is bracing itself for going into administration as early as Monday (11th September).  The bad publicity surrounding the South African affair is certainly the catalyst for this this decline. But is this the only issue?

In article in The Guardian on the 7th September, a former employee described the company as having “a toxic, Machiavellian working culture.” Moreover, questions around the prevailing corporate social responsibility culture with their choice of clients which regularly ranged from questionable dictators to organisations mired in controversy are being asked. The report in The Guardian also went on to allege various other outrageous behaviours amongst Partners.

The similarities between this and many other corporate scandals is clear. The leadership of the business, for whatever reason, did not exert sufficient controls on the business.  Moreover, they did not install an appropriate corporate vision based on strong values and business norms.  Consequently, they may well join a long list of corporate failures whose demise is down to the leadership and corporate governance rather than the product or economic climate.


Matthew Davis is a Director of The Occupational Psychology Group, a global business psychology consultancy focussed on assessment, performance management and change. He can be reached via www.theopg.co.uk or on +44 (0)23 8023 6944

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