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Graziadio Professor Bernice Ledbetter on the Behavior of Entrepreneurs

Dr. Bernice Ledbetter, Chair of the Master of Science in Leadership and Management degree program at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Management, contributed to a recent story in the Los Angeles Business Journal.

The story, entitled “Meal Replacement CEO Served up Futile Fight”, discusses the recent indictment of Robert Rhinehart, head of meal replacement company Soylent. Soylent, which has received varying degrees of both positive and negative press for being an ‘engineered’ food product, is now in the spotlight for a different reason.

CEO Rhinehart was charged with four criminal counts for his refusal to remove a shipping container from his property in Montecito Heights, CA. The container, which he referred to as “an experiment in sustainable housing” had been custom designed to include skylights, windows and doors. But the architects and Rhinehart had not obtained the proper permitting for such a structure, and he was slapped with an order to remove it.

Dr. Ledbetter remarked in the article, “It can play out as an interesting entrepreneur, techie guy doing something off the beaten path, drawing attention to his company…or, it can be perceived as reckless and teenager like and call into question his judgment and leadership.”

The story raises the question of how some actions carried out by business leaders are viewed, and whether behavior that could be viewed as ‘eccentric’ is characteristic of heads of the most successful global companies. The question lies in where eccentricity ends and unethical behavior begins.

Another example given was Tinder’s Sean Rad, who was involved in a recent sexual harassment lawsuit and Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel, who issued an apology after it was revealed that he’d sent misogynistic emails while a student at Stanford.

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About the Author

Maggie Boccella
Maggie Boccella

Maggie Boccella, a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, is a freelance writer, artist and photographer. She has consulted on various film and multimedia projects, and she also serves as a juror for the city's annual LGBTQIA Film Festival.

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