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Capitalist Reality and Creative Destruction (Part II: Enron's Political Capitalism Play)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- January 3, 2012

Enron’s revolution-always approach to energy in its latter years was Schumpeter on steroids. Adding to the company tumult was another complicating factor: Enron’s business model was dependent on political, not free-market, capitalism.

In early 2001, Enron founder and chairman Ken Lay proclaimed a new corporate vision: to become the world’s leading company. But this goal was not about beating oil majors like ExxonMobil or Chevron at their game. It was about mandatory open-access with gas and electricity transmission to trade the commodities; reducing tax bills with solar and wind investments (what GE does today with what was once Enron Wind); developing infrastructure in risky countries with government-guaranteed financing; and more.

Enron’s Business Guru

Lay’s super-Schumpeterian view of business strategy drew upon Peter Drucker’s The Age of Discontinuity, which Professor Lay taught to his graduate economics students at George Washington University in the early 1970s.