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Corporate Crime and the State  

Adam Ghazi-Tehrani

State-corporate crime is defined as criminal acts that occur when one or more institutions of political governance pursue a goal in direct cooperation with one or more institutions of economic production and distribution. This concept has been advanced to examine how corporations and governments intersect to produce social harm. The complexity of state-corporate crime arises from the nature of the offenses; unlike traditional “street crime,” state-corporate crime is not characterized by the intent of a single actor to violate the law for personal pleasure or gain. Criminal actions by the state often lack an obvious victim, and diffusion of responsibility arising from corporate structure and involvement of multiple actors makes the task of attributing criminal responsibility difficult. Sufficient understanding of state-corporate crime cannot be gained through studying individual actors; one must also consider broader organizational and societal factors. Further subclassification illuminates the different types of state-corporate crime: State-initiated corporate crime (such as the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion) occurs when corporations, employed by the government, engage in organizational deviance at the direction of, or with the tacit approval of, the government. State-facilitated state-corporate crime (such as the 1991 Imperial Food Products fire in Hamlet, North Carolina) occurs when government regulatory institutions fail to restrain deviant activities either because of direct collusion between business and government or because they adhere to shared goals whose attainment would be hampered by aggressive regulation.

Article

Corporate Fraud, Corruption, and Financial Malfeasance  

Harland Prechel

Corporate failures and financial crisis in the early 21st century generated an increased awareness of the pervasiveness of corporate corruption, fraud, and financial malfeasance. In addition to the tremendous financial costs to society and the loss of public confidence in corporations and social institutions, corporate wrongdoing adversely effects corporations by undermining profits, morale, and trust. Understanding contemporary corporate corruption, fraud, and financial malfeasance requires an examination of the extent to which historical variation in organizational, political-legal, and ideology arrangements affect opportunities for managers to engage in these behaviors. These components of the social structure are not mutually exclusive but are part of a dynamic system that consists of many interconnected component parts. As a whole, the literature examined here suggests that the components of the formal and informal structure create incentives, motivations, and opportunities to engage in corruption, fraud, and malfeasance. The emphasis on social structure is critical to advance our understanding of how corporate political embeddedness, the social organization of markets, and corporate characteristics all affect wrongdoing. The main findings include the following. 1.Contemporary research confirms and extends Sutherland’s initial insight that differential social structure creates variation in opportunities to engage in corporate crime. Corporate characteristics, including structure, size, vertical integration, prestige, cognitive assumptions, corporate norms, dependence on institutional investors, bounded rationality, opportunities, and political embeddedness, are associated with corporate corruption, fraud, and financial malfeasance. 2.Corporations in the United States engaged in political behavior to re-regulate multiple spheres of corporations’ political embeddedness that permitted management to enter existing markets, create new markets, and engage in high-risk behaviors in them. 3.Corporate culture and ethics interact with markets and other dimensions of the social structure to create normative conditions conducive to corporate corruption and fraud. 4.Individual characteristics, including chief executive officer’s (CEO’s) age and the networks among top management and corporate boards, affect corporate corruption, fraud, and malfeasance. 5.Given that few policy changes were implement in the 2008 post-crisis era, the political embeddedness and characteristics of corporations continue to provide opportunities for corporations and their agents to engage in corruption, fraud, and malfeasance.

Article

The Harms and Crimes of Logging and Deforestation  

José Luis Carpio-Domínguez

Among the socioenvironmental problems that have been determinant in the causes of climate change, deforestation represents one of the main ones. The environmental harms caused by deforestation include the extinction of flora and fauna species, the loss of soil fertility, and limits on regional sustainability, affecting efforts to mitigate climate change. The social harms include the reduction of communities’ capacities for development and the loss of ecosystem services such as water and soil fertility for subsistence, and phenomena such as illegal logging, when configured as organized crime, threaten the security of local communities. Despite government efforts to regulate this practice at local, regional, and global levels, it is still present in an illegal or uncontrolled manner in many countries. Deforestation is linked to soft law enforcement, the economic precariousness of the places where deforestation takes place (as a subsistence or illegal activity), and highly profitable illegal markets, therefore requiring a multifactorial response. Improving forest law enforcement and environmental conservation also requires strong political commitment across governments, as well as institutional, social (including native and Indigenous communities), economic, and environmental sector collaboration, promoting horizontal governance at all levels.

Article

The Harms and Crimes of Waste  

Lieselot Bisschop and Karin van Wingerde

The increasing volume and toxicity of waste generated globally has been one of the most significant environmental issues since the 1980s. Following several disasters across the world, waste was more strictly regulated, and the waste industry became a massive industrial complex. Waste is inherently tied to consumption and production processes and therefore goes hand in hand with societal developments like industrialization, urbanization, and globalization, which have all impacted the scale and hazardousness of waste. Although many cases of illegal waste trade have been documented and even prosecuted, the harms and crimes of waste relate to much more than the illegal transport and disposal of it across borders. Waste crimes and harms occur in everyday production and consumption processes and often remain hidden or only become known after a considerable amount of time. Moreover, most of the harms caused by waste follow from regulated industrial processes or consumer behaviors. Not only has waste been a long-time societal challenge, but it also remains a key focus of criminological inquiry. Waste continues to be a paramount example of the ambiguities that come with globalization and the regulation of harmful business and societal practices. Based on a review of the available academic literature and using several case studies as examples, this article provides a broad introduction into the topic of the harms and crimes of waste. It focuses on household and industrial waste, on (global) waste streams, on waste production, and on treatment and disposal of waste, and it illustrates the criminogenic characteristics of waste. Moreover, this article discusses both the causes (industrial processes) and the effects (harms) of waste production and disposal.

Article

Public Knowledge About White-Collar Crime  

Cedric Michel

A considerable body of research on societal response to white-collar and corporate crime has evidenced a hardening of public attitudes, including increased perceived seriousness of upper-class criminality and punitiveness toward its perpetrators. These findings suggest that, over time, the public has gained a better understanding of white-collar crime and its deleterious social impact. However, none of the opinion surveys included a direct measure of public knowledge. As a result, it is difficult to determine to which extent U.S. citizens are objectively informed about crimes of the powerful. In fact, only a few studies have focused exclusively on the intersection between knowledge about white-collar crime and sentiment toward it. These scholarly efforts have concluded that the American people continue to underestimate the actual financial and physical consequences of white-collar crime, which may be the result of selective reporting by the mass media and biased research foci by scholars. By choosing to focus on traditional criminal law violations, such as homicide and theft, and relegating white-collar offenses to the rank of victimless crimes, journalists and criminologists have contributed to the construction and propagation of myths about upper-world criminality. In turn, continuous adherence to these myths might lead to polarized opinions about which type of penal policy to adopt against white-collar crime.

Article

State Crime  

Thomas MacManus

While state crime is a relatively recent event in the discipline of criminology, tracing the roots of its modern form to the 1990s, it has attracted some of the best minds to research and theorize on the immense and fatal excesses of the modern nation state. State crime is defined most convincingly by Penny Green and Tony Ward as state organizational deviance involving the violation of human rights. The crimes are organizational in nature and are carried out by vast state systems and corporate structures. This approach can be contrasted with the individual criminal liability, “scapegoat” ideology of international criminal law and other criminal law regimes. The definition relies on the criminological concept of deviance, a label applied by a social audience, to make up for the lack of criminal legal definition of the behaviors, legitimacy, and human rights norms in order to differentiate it from crimes that are carried out without harm to human or planet (such as minor international economic treaty violations). A sub-field of state crime, state-corporate crime has developed to track those crimes which occur at the intersection of the state and the market.

Article

Theory and Green Criminology  

Kimberly L. Barrett and Rachelle F. Marshall

Green criminology refers to a perspective within criminology that, broadly speaking, is devoted to the study of crime against and harms to the natural environment. Initially, green criminology was introduced as the study of environmental harm from a political-economic vantage point and was informed by theories from critical, radical, and political-economic (e.g., “conflict paradigm”) perspectives. Over time, however, new definitions of green criminology have emerged, as have new terms for the criminological study of environmental crimes (e.g., “conservation criminology”). These developments have invited new theoretical interpretations of environmental crime and justice. While conflict theories still maintain a degree of centrality in green criminology, the perspective has expanded to include mainstream theoretical orientations (e.g., “classical paradigm,” “consensus/positivist paradigm”) as well.