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Journal cover: Society and Business Review

Society and Business Review

ISSN: 1746-5680

Online from: 2006

Subject Area: Business Ethics and Law

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Motives behind white-collar crime: results of a quantitative and qualitative study in Germany


Document Information:
Title:Motives behind white-collar crime: results of a quantitative and qualitative study in Germany
Author(s):Thomas Cleff, (Business School, Pforzheim University, Pforzheim, Germany and Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), Mannheim, Germany), Gabriele Naderer, (Business School, Pforzheim University, Pforzheim, Germany), Jürgen Volkert, (Business School, Pforzheim University, Pforzheim, Germany)
Citation:Thomas Cleff, Gabriele Naderer, Jürgen Volkert, (2013) "Motives behind white-collar crime: results of a quantitative and qualitative study in Germany", Society and Business Review, Vol. 8 Iss: 2, pp.145 - 159
Keywords:Criminal motivation, Criminal psychological profile, Criminology, Germany, White-collar crime/corporate crime
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/SBR-10-2012-0042 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:This paper is a summarised, updated and revised version of a study conducted by the authors in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The authors would like to thank all who have contributed to this paper and to the study itself for their instructive comments. Special thanks are also due to Steffen Salvenmoser, Sabine Schmidt and Melanie Schmitt at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for their valuable contributions to the concept and content of an earlier study, as well as to Verena Eisemann for her helpful assistance with research and the finalisation of this paper. The authors alone bear responsibility for any errors or inconsistencies.
Abstract:

Purpose – Knowledge on corporate crime still lags behind its far-reaching economic significance. In order to learn more about the motives of corporate criminals, qualitative psychological interviews were conducted with convicted offenders to identify the critical motives behind the crimes. In a quantitative analysis the offender profiles were then systematically compared and validated with the help of court records from public prosecutors' offices in Germany. The purpose of this paper is to gain insights into the complex interaction of emotional, motivational and cognitive processes leading up to the crime in order to draw possible conclusions for how best to prevent and combat white-collar crime.

Design/methodology/approach – In order to learn more about the motives of corporate criminals, thirteen qualitative psychological interviews were conducted with convicted delinquents in various penitentiaries. The focus was on fraud, embezzlement, breach of trust and corruption. In addition, the court files of 60 corporate criminals from 11 German public prosecutors' offices were analysed systematically in order to evaluate pivotal motives and propitious conditions for criminal behaviour along with characteristic personality traits of the perpetrators.

Findings – Five different criminal psychological profiles were identified that enable a better understanding of the motives behind white-collar crime. The key point is to gain insight into the complex interaction of emotional, motivational and cognitive processes that lead to a criminal act in order to derive possible consequences for preventing and combating white-collar crime. The results of the study reveal extremely disparate delinquent types that demand a mix of preventive measures and an adequate compliance management framework.

Originality/value – The results of the study reveal extremely disparate delinquent types that demand a mix of preventive measures and an adequate compliance management framework.



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