Images of crime in the US reveal an increase of illegal activity from business executives. According to Simpson (2002) business misconduct is not a new social problem. Illicit drugs and violence, for example, have been an issue of concern for business leaders and policymakers for a while now. Historically criminals involved with drugs and violence were believed to have been contained within certain populations of criminal ethnic groups and immigrants. In other words, society was under the impression that crime was only confined to the constitutionally inferior and morally lax (Simpson, 2002). However, with the expansion of the newly emerging capitalist society and its large institutions, the environment was becoming fertile for corporate criminals.
Illegal corporate conduct is considered a form of white collar crime that is committed by persons of respectability and high social status. Some people refer to it as a crime of the rich and affluent. Cavender and Cullen (2006) postulate that it can include such infractions as (a) crimes by politicians; (b) crimes by professionals like accountants, physicians, and attorneys; (c) cheating on taxes; (d) theft or embezzlement; and (e) crimes committed by corporate organizations themselves (Cavender & Cullen, 2006). The topic of this discussion asks us to consider which presents the greatest threat to civil society: a corporation that commits crimes or a person who commits crimes that harm businesses. On the one hand, a corporation that commits a crime can create a wide range of contamination that spans across the globe.
Take for example, a multinational corporation (MNC) that markets a defective product, or worse a deadly one (like the tobacco companies that hid the harmful effects of their products). In other words, when a corporation commits a crime, millions of people may be at risk on a global level. A crime that is committed by an individual, however, who causes harm to a business, such as when a physician defrauds the government by billing for false medical payments, will have different consequences that influences a smaller region. For example, it could result with the physician’s termination and loss of that practitioner’s medical license or worst case scenario the dissolution of the medical facility and the employees. So in this instance, just the physician or facility could be affected because it does not have the same influence on a global level. However, in the long run, it may affect the policies that physicians follow if reforms are introduced to prevent physicians from further engaging in this form of criminal conduct.
Individuals that engage in criminal activity, even though they believe they outsmarted the system and got away with a criminal act, are always focused on not getting caught. It takes a considerable amount of energy to maintain an illusion, and as soon as they become relaxed, they get sloppy and eventually the truth surfaces. Seaquist (2012) defines criminal law as the branch of law that is focused on punishing illegal acts that are deemed harmful to others and society at large (Seaquist, 2012). In some situations, it can be difficult to discern which form of crime presents more of a civil threat because there are many facets to consider. For example, as I pointed out, a corporation, especially an MNC, has a great influence on a global scale.
A franchise like McDonalds for instance, post signs warning patrons that their food products contain chemicals that contribute to life threatening diseases like obesity, diabetes, arteriosclerosis and other debilitating illnesses that affect millions worldwide. Prior to this, the firm actively promoted discounted fast food items which were inferior products to make huge profits by using clever marketing strategies like Ronald McDonald to appeal to innocent youngsters offering toys and other tactics to entice consumers. However, advances in science have helped educate a wider audience and with communication technology, individuals are empowered now and can make an impact on global scale by pointing out these harmful practices in order to affect positive changes in the way business is conducted. In other words, a whole new world is emerging and those who seek to establish and commit to an ethical culture, are the ones who will help lead society to a better, healthier future.
Well, that wraps up our organizational management blog posts for this year. Our team will be taking some time off to honor and celebrate the winter holidays. Now that Mayr has joined the talented team at the College of Southern Nevada’s (CSN) Performing Arts Center (PAC) as the Publications Writer, she will not only return with all new posts on organizational management in the new year, she will also introduce a new blog series for the PAC, so stay tuned! In the meantime, keep a lookout for some upcoming holiday giveaways by Media Magic!
In closing, we want to extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone that has been a part of this journey with us. We sincerely wish you and your loved ones a very happy and healthy holiday season! See you next year!
Until then … stay organized!
Sharing the holiday with other people, and feeling that you’re giving of yourself, gets you past all the commercialism. – Caroline Kennedy
For more information on Media Magic’s digital publications, or to purchase any of our Business Life titles, please visit amazon.com’s new feature called “Author Central” to view:
Cavender, G., & Cullen, F. (2006). Corporate crime under attack (2nd ed.). Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Publishing.
Seaquist, G. (2012). Business law for managers. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Simpson, S. (2002). Corporate crime, law, and social control. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.