Teaching Note | HBS Case Collection | February 2014

Olympus (A)

by Jay W. Lorsch and Suraj Srinivasan

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 world-wide, 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.

Citation:

Lorsch, Jay W., and Suraj Srinivasan. "Olympus (A)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 114-072, February 2014.