New OHN podcast article: Enron and the California energy crisis

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This week, we are making another audio version of an Open Access article available as a podcast.

Enron and the California energy crisis: the role of networks in enabling organizational corruption.


  • Adam Nix.
  • Stephanie Decker.
  • Carola Wolf.

Published in Business History Review, 2021, volume 95, issue 4.


We provide an analytically structured history of Enron’s involvement in the California energy crisis. In doing so, our analysis explores Enron’s emergence as a corrupt organization and its use of an inter-organizational network to manipulate California’s energy supply markets. We use this history to introduce the concept of network-enabled corruption, showing how corruption, even if primarily enacted by a single dominant organization, is often highly dependent on the support of other organizations. Specifically, we show how Enron combined resources from partner firms with their own capabilities, manipulating the energy market and capitalizing on the crisis. From a methodological point of view, our study also emphasizes the growing importance of digital sources for historical research, drawing particularly on telephone and email records from the period to develop a rich, fly-on-the-wall understanding of an otherwise hard-to-observe phenomenon.

Keywords: Organizational corruption; Organizational misconduct; Analytically structured history; Digital sources; Energy supply industry.