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An historical perspective on the Sarbanes‐Oxley Act

Paul L. Govekar (College of Business Administration, Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio, USA)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 27 June 2008




The purpose of this paper is to provide an historical perspective to help understand the forces that resulted in the Sarbanes‐Oxley Act. It aims to provide an historical vindication of the taxonomy developed by Charles Conrad in 2003.


The paper applies a framework developed by Charles Conrad in 2003 to explain the events that led to the corporate meltdown in 2002‐2003 and compare it to a similar scandal in the insurance industry at the beginning of the twentieth century.


A number of parallels were found between the two incidents. Additionally, the framework developed by Charles Conrad in 2003 was vindicated by the historical comparison. Lessons for practicing managers, domestic and international, are presented along with avenues for possible future research.

Practical implications

Recent changes in the political landscape, particularly in the USA, may indicate that Sarbanes‐Oxley will, indeed, be with us for a longer, rather shorter time. However, the real lesson for managers and scholars of management may be to concentrate on the three trends that foreshadow scandals and meltdowns to prevent similar problems, with their inevitable legal backlash in the future.


This paper uses the framework developed by Charles Conrad in 2003 to explore to different corporate meltdowns separated by a century in the USA. Lessons learned from these incidents as well as a perspective on the probable effective life of the Sarbanes‐Oxley Act are suggested.



Govekar, P.L. (2008), "An historical perspective on the Sarbanes‐Oxley Act", Journal of Management History, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 284-293.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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