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Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room Discussion Questions

Instructor: Grace Pisano

Grace has taught high school history in several states with a master's degree in teaching.

Based on a book written by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, this documentary focuses on the company Enron. The film was released in 2005 and covers the Enron scandal.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Enron was an energy company based out of Texas that was formed in 1985. It seemed to have great success; however, after it began to crash in the early 2000s, it was discovered that many of the financial failings of Enron had been hidden by the company. The film, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room looks at the creation, duration, and downfall of the corporation. The Enron scandal is important to several social studies concepts because it changed many legal regulations on large companies and influenced all Enron investors. These discussion questions are geared towards high school and post-secondary students.

The Enron Scandal Questions

  • Contrast Enron's code of ethics with the events that unfolded. Did the code of ethics have any influence on the day-to-day operations? If not, what is the point of having this document?
  • There are several people in the film who had positions of power within Enron but allowed the deception to continue. Of everyone, who do you think was most at fault for the Enron scandal? Why do you think it was able to grow as large as it did?
  • In 2001, when Enron filed for bankruptcy, it was the seventh largest business in the country and had $63.4 billion in assets. How is it possible that a company this large was such a scandal? Do you think there are still corporations like Enron today, where their finances are overblown?
  • What do you think about the information presented about the board of directors? Do you think they were actually innocent in the scandal?

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