Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 78, Issue 1, pp 3–16

Framing and Organizational Misconduct: A Symbolic Interactionist Study


DOI: 10.1007/s10551-006-9324-x

Cite this article as:
MacLean, T.L. J Bus Ethics (2008) 78: 3. doi:10.1007/s10551-006-9324-x


This study expands theoretical understanding of organizational misconduct through qualitative analysis of widespread deceptive sales practices at a large U.S. life insurance company. Adopting a symbolic interactionist perspective, this research describes how a set of taken-for-granted interpretive frames located in the organization’s culture created a worldview through which deceptive sales practices were seen as normal, acceptable, routine operating procedure. The findings from this study extend and modify the dominant theoretical ‘pressure/opportunity’ model of organizational misconduct by proposing that the process engine driving misconduct is not amorally rational organization members, but rather is organizational members acting on socially constructed views of the organization that normalize misconduct.

Key words

corporate crimeframesorganizational misconductsymbolic interactionismsymbolic processes

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Suffolk University School of ManagementBostonUSA