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Understanding “Criminogenic” Corporate Culture: What White-Collar Crime Researchers Can Learn from Studies of the Adolescent Employment–Crime Relationship

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Abstract

A prominent theory of white-collar crime holds that organizations have distinctive cultures which are more or less tolerant of law violation for the benefit of the firm. This explanation purports to account for why college-educated, relatively affluent, and seemingly conventional persons can commit crime when they are employed in white-collar occupations. The vexing paradox of “why good people do dirty work” can be resolved by positing that some organizations turn a blind eye to ethical and legal infractions if it benefits the firm, thereby creating a culture of rule breaking which is learned just as any other business practice is learned. Another theoretical view posits that firms with a tolerant view toward business ethics may attract people with “loose” ethics, which itself leads to corporate and white-collar offending. The second view harmonizes with the notion of “assortative mating”—that people are attracted to those environments with which they are more compatible by disposition. The difference between these two views is not trivial. One posits that the ethical climate of an industry or firm has a causal impact on the occurrence of white-collar crime; the other is compatible with the view that the relationship between culture and crime is spurious. Using as a case study research within another criminological tradition—the relationship between youth employment and delinquency—we argue that disentangling causation from selection should be a research priority for the study of white-collar crime.

Keywords

  • Antisocial Behavior
  • Delinquent Behavior
  • Ethical Climate
  • Corporate Culture
  • Organizational Climate

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Apel, R., Paternoster, R. (2009). Understanding “Criminogenic” Corporate Culture: What White-Collar Crime Researchers Can Learn from Studies of the Adolescent Employment–Crime Relationship. In: Simpson, S.S., Weisburd, D. (eds) The Criminology of White-Collar Crime. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-09502-8_2

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