White-collar organizational offenders
- A lot of white-collar criminals saying I’m just involved in a big business.
How do people go about explaining all these kinds of individual white-collar crimes/corporate
- Greed and needs is one explanation. This could fit into Merton's strain theory. Greed
internalizes goal for money. You can always find people who earn more, therefore,
contributing to feeling aspiration for upward. Need comes from a notion of the
disjuncture between what we are taught to achieve and what we can actually achieve.
But as Sutherland pointed out, we all want more money but only some involved in illegal
activities others do not. What is the reason?
- Corporate culture: some organizations promote crimes in the same ways some
neighborhood promote delinquency and gang activities. How do they do it? Placing
excessive demands on employees or tolerating deviant activities.
The Archer Daniel: How do they facilitate corporate crimes? What are the indicators of how
they did it?
- Couple of different levels facilitating illegal activities: They know price-fixing was illegal.
What they said was that it appears to be standard operating procedures. It appears to
be what people do; why shouldn’t I do it?
- The divisional structure of company: Competition between the divisions in the company
promotes illegality. The divisional structure serves to protect people on the top.
- The CEO was also a chairman of the board of director. The board of director is designed
to be an oversight to the organization, to check their financial activities and to make
sure the company is operating according to rules. The CEO should not have been the
chairman of the board.
- A really good example of corporate culture facilitating illegal behavior.
Recall from last semester: Self-control
- Crime and criminality: crime was an opportunity to offend and criminality was
propensity. Individuals, who have low self-control, are going to commit crimes. Maybe,
the white-collar crimes can be explained by low self-control. This seems to be odd but
there is some evidence that the white-collar offenders individuals with prior records.
They share a lot in common with street criminals.
Reading by Shover: Telemarketers
- A notion of self-concept; do these people think of themselves as common
- They don't. They think of themselves quite differently because their criminal activities
take places in context of legitimate occupations. They regard themselves as respectable
citizens. Telemarketers, despite the fact that the offenders were felons, reject the label
of criminals. They think of themselves accused of expanding their business so rapidly.
They insulate themselves in their self-concept. Researchers in the pharmaceutical industry have deliberately falsified the findings on side
effects of drugs. They still see themselves; none is criminal but professional helping to save
There are some people who argue that what we really need is a blended theory
Basically, white-collar crimes have three factors:
1) Motivation; conditioned by competition in business, politics, etc.. people are put into
these contexts where motivation starts to emerge
2) Culturally learned neutralization; i.e, for the good of the company.. everyone does it...
In many ways it resembles with Sutherland’s theory,
- Corporate ethics vary considerable among companies and learning of rationalizations,
norms, attitudes, and different contexts may determine why violations are acceptable in
some companies but not in others.
How do we go about controlling corporate crimes?
- Generally what’s done to try to curve these kinds of crimes fall into two categories?
1) Compliance: a kind of notion that there will be self-policing in business community. "We
know you do the best" /Oversight by various regulatory agencies. A strategy that tries to create
incentives for doing the right things; "you don't wanna get penalized". But, they are usually
following the actions; they are coming in after someone broke the rule.
2) Deterrence: effective way of dealing these offenses. It works best when you have rational
actors. Analysis of the costs and benefits on certain activity. Some evidence suggests that
attempts are made to give severe penalty to wealthy individuals who are caught for fraud.
There are also exceptions: the reality is that not many of these wealthy people are accused.
Only about 6 percent of all arrests were white-collar crimes. Of these 6 percent, the vast
majority of these people were prosecuted and convicted in criminal court. But very few end up
going to prison.
- Maybe, the best deterrence really isn't the criminal sanctions which rarely resulting
someone end up in prison. Maybe, it is the bad publicity for the company since most
corporations are very concerned with public images. Publicity might be a very good
- The impact of negative publicity in corporate crimes: bad publicity affected all seventeen
corporations but the degrees to which they change their behavior vary. Publicity hurts
most when it challenges the integrity of the products because it extracts the financial
costs of the corporation. Bad publicity hurts the products. i.e. i'm not buying t-shirts
from sweat shops.
Part 2: Social Control Agent and Deviance
How do we understand deviance among social control agents?
the ways in which social control contributes to deviance more generally
- A notion that social control creates more deviant behaviors. Social control creates the
problem that it designs to eliminate. - Marx examine three situations where social control contributes to rule breaking
1) Escalation: a notion that the process of the control triggers violation either. i.e. high-
speed car chase
2) Nonenforcement: i.e. exchange relationship
3) Covert Facilitation: setting up situations to try get individuals engaging in illegal
- Escalation on two levels:
1) Escalation in initial enforcements: a large number of quasi-legal enforcement system
that has emerged over the past several decades i.e. how many compan