Case | HBS Case Collection | October 2012 (Revised July 2013)

Olympus (A)

by Jay W. Lorsch, Suraj Srinivasan and Kathleen Durante

Abstract

As 2012 approached, the woes of the financial crisis seemed to be fading, companies were resuming business as usual, and some of the scrutiny on corporate governance practices began to recede as well. That is until another major financial scandal emerged in Japan in the fall of 2011. It was slowly revealed that the 92-year-old camera and medical photo-imaging company, Olympus, had been hiding its losses for more than a decade—to the tune of $1.7 billion—long before the current economic pressures, slow job growth, and poor investor confidence plagued the global economy. The fraud renewed the focus on corporate governance policies worldwide, but especially in Japan, where the lack of board independence and a deep-rooted corporate culture entrenched in personal loyalties fostered an environment that made it difficult for scandals such as this to be unveiled, let alone for whistleblowers to come forward about them.

Keywords: accounting; corporate governance; Accounting; Corporate Governance; Electronics Industry; Health Industry; Japan;

Citation:

Lorsch, Jay W., Suraj Srinivasan, and Kathleen Durante. "Olympus (A) ." Harvard Business School Case 413-040, October 2012. (Revised July 2013.)