Special Issue "The Organizational Aspects of Corporate and Organizational Crime"

A special issue of Administrative Sciences (ISSN 2076-3387).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2018)

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Judith van Erp

Staff Law, Economics and Governance, University Utrecht, Domplein 29, 3512 JE Utrecht, Netherlands
Website | E-Mail
Interests: qualitative social research, criminal law, public administration, health politics and policy, qualitative and multi-method research

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Corporate crimes seem endemic to modern society. Newspapers are filled on a daily basis with examples of financial manipulation, accounting fraud, cartels, bribery, toxic spills and environmental harms, corporate human rights violations, corporate manslaughter or violence, and, recently, software manipulation. Clearly, the problem of corporate crime transcends the micro level of the individual ‘rotten apple’ (Ashforth et al. 2008; Monahan and Quinn 2006): although corporate crimes are ultimately committed by individual members of an organization, they are committed for, and enabled and justified by, organizations. Organization studies have therefore become increasingly preoccupied with organizational misbehavior and deviancy, ‘the dark side of organization’ (Linstead, Maréchal, Griffin 2014), and also has an important contribution to make to our understanding of corporate crime and its prevention.

A Special Issue is being prepared for Administrative Sciences focusing on the organizational aspects of corporate and organizational crime. We broadly define corporate or organizational crimes as illegal or harmful acts, committed by legitimate organizations or their members, for the benefit of these organizations. We invite contributions with regard to three organizational perspectives on corporate crime:

The organization as cause: Organizational strategy, culture, and structure, shape behavior in organizations and are therefore essential explanations of corporate crime. Paradoxically, it is often conformity to organizational norms and goals that can explain corporate deviancy (Vaughan 1999). Research questions might address how organizations socialize individuals to adopt motives and goals, but also norms, beliefs and identities, resulting in normalization of deviance and making ‘good people do bad things’ (Kaptein 2013). Research could also study how organizational structures and information and decisionmaking procedures may create cultures of secrecy and silence (Van de Bunt 2010) and result in irrationalities, ‘group think’, or flawed  risk perceptions (Mills and Koliba 2015). Similarly, organizational hierarchy, authority, and narcissistic leadership  may disengage people from responsibilities and result in crimes of obedience.

The organization as cure: A range of formal and informal systems of social and administrative control are  introduced within organizations to prevent corporate crime. Although some have been effective, compliance systems can also be introduced as symbolic responses to external pressure, and resort to check-the-box bureaucratic ritualism and cosmetic compliance (Merton 1968; Krawiec 2003).  It is therefore important to study how formal control systems interact with informal control within organizations to create a shared culture of integrity. Research could address corporate governance, compliance programmes, audits and accountability mechanisms, ethics training programmes, whistle blowing and reporting programmes, and the functioning and effectiveness of risk and compliance managers within organizations. Methodologically, there is a knowledge gap with regard to the causality relation between formal and informal control: Do formal control systems make for ethical organizations, or do ethical organizations create elaborate control systems (Apel and Paternoster 2009)?

The organization of the crime: The question how corporate crimes are organized, deserves specific attention from an organization studies perspective, as organizations provide opportunities for generating, hiding and spending illegal profit that individuals lack. Rather than technical analyses of modus operandi, an organization studies perspective can provide understandings of how business offenders use their organizations and reputations to conceal illegal acts (Van de Bunt 2010). As corporate crimes are often embedded within firm’s social environment, research can also address how organizations collaborate to commit and conceal crime (Lord and Levi 2017; Jaspers 2017). In particular, the role of social and organizational networks and business associations in facilitating connections between elite members and deviant organizations, as well as in disseminating deviant norms and illegal practices, is important (Baker and Faulkner 1993; Reeves-Latour and Morselli 2017; Bichler, Schoepfer and Bush 2015). A last obvious topic of study is the question whether regulatory and market-based prevention strategies effectively undermine the organization of corporate crimes.

For this Special Issue, we invite papers with disciplinary roots in organization and management studies, public administration, business ethics, organizational psychology and sociology, criminology, and related disciplines. We particularly invite multi- and interdisciplinary work. Both theoretical and empirical papers, and both quantitative and qualitative research are welcome, with a particular but not exclusive interest in organizational ethnography. We aim for a wide international authorship with a global reach.

References

Ashforth, B., D. Gioia, S. Robinson, L. Trevino (2008), Introduction to Special Topic Forum: Re-Viewing Organizational Corruption. In The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 33, No. 3 (Jul., 2008), pp. 670-684.

Apel, R., and R. Paternoster (2009), Understanding “Criminogenic” Corporate Culture: What White-Collar Crime Researchers Can Learn from Studies of the Adolescent Employment–Crime Relationship. In R. Apel, S. Simpson, D. Weisburd (eds.), The Criminology of White-Collar Crime, Springer, pp. 15-33.

Baker, W., and R. Faulkner (1993), the Social Organization of Conspiracy: Illegal Networks in the Heavy Electrical Equipment Industry. In American Sociological Review 58(6) December 1993.

Bichler G., A. Schoepfer, S. Bush (2015), White Collars and Black Ties: Interlocking Social Circles of Elite Corporate Offenders. in Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 31 (3) 279-296.

Bunt, H.G. van de (2010), Walls of secrecy and silence: The Madoff case and cartels in the construction industry. Criminology & Public Policy, 9(3), 435-453.

Jaspers, J.D. (2017), Managing Cartels: how Cartel Participants Create Stability in the Absence of law. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 23(3), 319–335.

Kaptein, M.  (2013), Workplace Morality, Behavioral Ethics in Organizations, Emerald Publishing.

Krawiec, K. (2003), Cosmetic Compliance and the Failure of Negotiated Governance. In Washington University Law Quarterly, 81, p. 487.

Linstead, S., G. Maréchal, R. Griffin (2014), Theorizing and Researching the Dark Side of Organization, Organization Studies 2014, Vol. 35(2) 165–188.

Lord, N. and M. Levi (2017), Organizing the finances for and the finances from transnational corporate bribery. in European Journal of Criminology 2017, Vol. 14(3) 365–389.

Merton, R., (1968) Social Theory and Social Structure, Free Press.

Mills, R. W. and Koliba, C. J. (2015), The challenge of accountability in complex regulatory networks: The case of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In Regulation & Governance, 9: 77–91.

Monahan, S., and  B. Quinn (2006), Beyond ‘bad apples’ and ‘weak leaders’. Toward a neo-institutional explanation of organizational deviance, in Theoretical Criminology Vol. 10(3): 361–385; 1362–4806.

Reeves-Latour, M., Morselli, C. (2017), Bid-rigging networks and state-corporate crime in the construction industry. Social Networks.

Vaughan, D. (1999), The Dark Side of Organization, Mistake, Misconduct, Disaster. In Annual Review of Sociology 25:1, 271-305.

Prof. Dr. Judith van Erp
Guest Editor

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Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial The Organization of Corporate Crime: Introduction to Special Issue of Administrative Sciences
Adm. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci8030036
Received: 12 July 2018 / Accepted: 12 July 2018 / Published: 19 July 2018
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Research

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Open AccessArticle Whistleblowing from an International Perspective: A Comparative Analysis of Institutional Arrangements
Adm. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci8030030
Received: 27 April 2018 / Revised: 16 June 2018 / Accepted: 2 July 2018 / Published: 5 July 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1758 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
While there appears to be consensus amongst policy makers that legislation to protect whistleblowers is needed, the emerging policy question addresses what institutional framework is most fit to implement whistleblowing legislation. However, the institutions to whom whistleblowers report—which are in the literature addressed
[...] Read more.
While there appears to be consensus amongst policy makers that legislation to protect whistleblowers is needed, the emerging policy question addresses what institutional framework is most fit to implement whistleblowing legislation. However, the institutions to whom whistleblowers report—which are in the literature addressed as internal or external recipients of whistleblowing concerns—have been given limited scholarly attention. Research has instead focused on motives, behaviour, and experiences of whistleblowers on the one hand, and whistleblowing legislation on the other. Particularly the role of external agencies, like ombudsmen, anti-corruption agencies, and Inspector General offices, in dealing with whistleblowing concerns has been under-studied. With the aim of starting to fill this research gap, this paper reports the findings of a comparative study of governmental whistleblowing agencies (other than courts) and non-governmental whistleblowing protection organizations (NGOs), as important examples of external recipients of whistleblowing concerns, in 11 countries with whistleblowing legislation. The study aimed to find similarities and differences between these agencies, and to identify challenges and dilemmas that the installation of whistleblowing agencies bring about. Data collection was done by means of 21 interviews with academic experts and high-ranking officials within the selected countries, and in-depth analysis of available (policy) documents and reports. This paper finds that in the studied countries, there is a trend to install governmental whistleblowing agencies that combine various tasks to implement whistleblowing legislation (e.g., advice, psychosocial care, investigation of wrongdoing or retaliation, and prevention of wrongdoing). When such agencies are absent or considered weak, NGOs may step in to fill the need. Whereas most governmental whistleblowing agencies have investigative tasks, in Belgium and in the Netherlands, investigations of wrongdoing and retaliation are done within the same department for the reason that these issues cannot be easily separated. Other agencies have separated these tasks to avoid conflict of interest or because different expertise is claimed to be needed for both. Further research is needed to analyze the effects of each institutional approach, and how to avoid conflict of interest, particularly the risk of partial investigations of wrongdoing. Our study also shows that while not many countries provide government funds for specific psychosocial care for whistleblowers, most governmental whistleblowing agencies do give advice to whistleblowers and invest in the prevention of wrongdoing or training of those who implement whistleblowing legislation. While providing important insights into the role of whistleblowing agencies in 11 countries, this study also develops questions for further research. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Organisation as the Cure for Its Own Ailments: Corporate Investigators in The Netherlands
Adm. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci8030025
Received: 7 March 2018 / Revised: 25 May 2018 / Accepted: 6 June 2018 / Published: 27 June 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (272 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Public/private relations in the field of security attract considerable academic attention. Usually, the state is central to the analysis, focusing on the diminishing role of a previously dominant state. The role that organisations themselves play in the investigation and settlement of their internal
[...] Read more.
Public/private relations in the field of security attract considerable academic attention. Usually, the state is central to the analysis, focusing on the diminishing role of a previously dominant state. The role that organisations themselves play in the investigation and settlement of their internal norm violations is, however, much less researched. An emphasis on the role of the state downplays the importance of such actions. This research paper, based on qualitative data from the Netherlands, highlights the role of the organisation as the principal actor in corporate investigations and corporate settlements. The legal constraints upon and day-to-day activities of corporate investigators are considered and the consequences of the distance between public law enforcement actors and corporate security are reflected upon. The paper arrives at the conclusion that the limited insight into the measures taken by organisations in response to internal norm violation can be considered problematic from a democratic, rule-of-law point of view. The freedom of action enjoyed by organisations within the private legal sphere makes oversight and control quite challenging. Full article
Open AccessShort Note The Role of Collusive Dynamics in the Occurrence of Organizational Crime: A Psychoanalytically Informed Social Psychological Perspective
Adm. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci8030024
Received: 30 April 2018 / Revised: 11 June 2018 / Accepted: 21 June 2018 / Published: 27 June 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (177 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This short reflective paper discusses collusion from a psychoanalytically informed social psychological perspective. From this perspective, collusion represents a non-conscious group dynamic in which the participants ‘play together’ to keep a threatening or painful reality out of awareness. To illustrate the dynamics, two
[...] Read more.
This short reflective paper discusses collusion from a psychoanalytically informed social psychological perspective. From this perspective, collusion represents a non-conscious group dynamic in which the participants ‘play together’ to keep a threatening or painful reality out of awareness. To illustrate the dynamics, two examples from the world of infrastructure and from higher education are provided. Although collusion in itself is not criminal, it may lead to neglectful or criminal behavior. Since it is a system-level phenomenon, holding individuals accountable will not end the dynamics. Full article
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Toxic Corporate Culture: Assessing Organizational Processes of Deviancy
Adm. Sci. 2018, 8(3), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci8030023
Received: 17 April 2018 / Revised: 14 June 2018 / Accepted: 16 June 2018 / Published: 22 June 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1082 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
There is widespread recognition that organizational culture matters in corporations involved in systemic crime and wrongdoing. However, we know far less about how to assess and alter toxic elements within a corporate culture. The present paper draws on management science, anthropology, sociology of
[...] Read more.
There is widespread recognition that organizational culture matters in corporations involved in systemic crime and wrongdoing. However, we know far less about how to assess and alter toxic elements within a corporate culture. The present paper draws on management science, anthropology, sociology of law, criminology, and social psychology to explain what organizational culture is and how it can sustain illegal and harmful corporate behavior. Through analyzing the corporate cultures at BP, Volkswagen, and Wells Fargo, this paper demonstrates that organizational toxicity does not just exist when corporate norms are directly opposed to legal norms, but also when: (a) it condones, neutralizes, or enables rule breaking; (b) it disables and obstructs compliance; and (c) actual practices contrast expressed compliant values. The paper concludes that detoxing corporate culture requires more than changing leadership or incentive structures. In particular, it requires addressing the structures, values, and practices that enable violations and obstruct compliance within an organization, as well as moving away from a singular focus on liability management (i.e., assigning blame and punishment) to an approach that prioritizes promoting transparency, honesty, and a responsibility to initiate and sustain actual cultural change. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Organising the Monies of Corporate Financial Crimes via Organisational Structures: Ostensible Legitimacy, Effective Anonymity, and Third-Party Facilitation
Adm. Sci. 2018, 8(2), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci8020017
Received: 9 April 2018 / Revised: 16 May 2018 / Accepted: 17 May 2018 / Published: 19 May 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1315 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article analyses how the monies generated for, and from, corporate financial crimes are controlled, concealed, and converted through the use of organisational structures in the form of otherwise legitimate corporate entities and arrangements that serve as vehicles for the management of illicit
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This article analyses how the monies generated for, and from, corporate financial crimes are controlled, concealed, and converted through the use of organisational structures in the form of otherwise legitimate corporate entities and arrangements that serve as vehicles for the management of illicit finances. Unlike the illicit markets and associated ‘organised crime groups’ and ‘criminal enterprises’ that are the normal focus of money laundering studies, corporate financial crimes involve ostensibly legitimate businesses operating within licit, transnational markets. Within these scenarios, we see corporations as primary offenders, as agents, and as facilitators of the administration of illicit finances. In all cases, organisational structures provide opportunities for managing illicit finances that individuals alone cannot access, but which require some element of third-party collaboration. In this article, we draw on data generated from our Partnership for Conflict, Crime, and Security Research (PaCCS)-funded project on the misuse of corporate structures and entities to manage illicit finances to make a methodological and substantive addition to the literature in this area. We analyse two cases from our research—corporate bribery in international business and corporate tax fraud—before discussing three main findings: (1) the ostensible legitimacy created through abuse of otherwise lawful business arrangements; (2) the effective anonymity and insulation afforded through such misuse; and (3) the necessity for facilitation by third-party professionals operating within a stratified market. The analysis improves our understanding of how and why business offenders misuse what are otherwise legitimate business structures, arrangements, and practices in their criminal enterprise. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Contextualizing Corruption: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach to Studying Corruption in Organizations
Adm. Sci. 2018, 8(2), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci8020012
Received: 27 December 2017 / Revised: 6 April 2018 / Accepted: 6 April 2018 / Published: 10 April 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (340 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper aims to establish how organization and management research, an extensive field that has contributed a great deal to research on corruption, could apply insights from other disciplines in order to advance the understanding of corruption, often considered as a form of
[...] Read more.
This paper aims to establish how organization and management research, an extensive field that has contributed a great deal to research on corruption, could apply insights from other disciplines in order to advance the understanding of corruption, often considered as a form of unethical behavior in organizations. It offers an analysis of important contributions of corruption research, taking a ‘rationalist perspective’, and highlights the central tensions and debates within this vast body of literatures. It then shows how these debates can be addressed by applying insights from corruption studies, adopting anthropological lens. The paper thus proposes a cross-disciplinary approach, which focuses on studying corruption by looking at what it means to individuals implicated by the phenomenon while engaging in social relations and situated in different contexts. It also offers an alternative approach to the study of corruption amidst claims that anti-corruption efforts have failed to achieve desirable results. Full article
Open AccessArticle Corruption in Organizations: Ethical Climate and Individual Motives
Adm. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/admsci8010004
Received: 22 December 2017 / Revised: 13 February 2018 / Accepted: 14 February 2018 / Published: 19 February 2018
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (691 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The aim of this research was to examine how organizational and individual factors, in concert, shape corruption. We examined whether the ethical climate of organizations is related to corruption, and if so, whether it affects corruption through individual motives for corruption. A large-scale
[...] Read more.
The aim of this research was to examine how organizational and individual factors, in concert, shape corruption. We examined whether the ethical climate of organizations is related to corruption, and if so, whether it affects corruption through individual motives for corruption. A large-scale questionnaire study was conducted among public officials (n = 234) and business employees (n = 289) who were in a position to make corrupt decisions. The findings suggest that public and private sector employees who perceive their organizational climate as more egoistic and less ethical are more prone to corruption. This relationship was fully mediated by individual motives, specifically by personal and social norms on corruption. These results indicate that employees who perceive their organization’s ethical climate as more egoistic and less ethical experience weaker personal and social norms to refrain from corruption, making them more corruption-prone. Hence, strategies addressing the interplay between organizational factors and individual motives seem promising in curbing corruption. To effectively withhold employees from engaging in corruption, organizations could deploy measures that strengthen an organizations’ ethical climate and encourage ethical decision-making based on concern for the wellbeing of others, as well as measures increasing the strength of personal and social norms to refrain from corruption. Full article
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