Corporate crime is identified as the most difficulty type of crime to document and measure its actual impact in the society. This has been closely attributed to the complex nature of most of these crimes. Critics of this practice have blamed the justice system for failing to effectively deal with cases involving corporate crime. Still, lack of public awareness on the nature of the various forms of corporate crime hinders the process of identifying, reporting, documenting and thus measuring corporate crime activities in the community (Yeager, & Clinard, 2006). In addition, the big corporations are claimed to enjoy the political powers of governments to compromise the execution of underlying anti-corporate crime laws.
By definition, corporate crime can be defined as any form of crime act committed by a business entity or by an individual who identifies with the entity (Hartley, 2008). It simply refers to unethical business practices committed in an organization. They range from workplace discrimination to financial and property corporate scandals. This essay is written as an argument in support of the thesis that “documenting and measuring the harm caused by corporate crime is more challenging than for other crimes, which is why responses to corporate crime are limited”. The author uses examples of corporate crime incidences in support of the argument.
The response to corporate crime is limited due to numerous reasons. First, most of the corporate crimes are complex to identify and report to the relevant legal authorities for documentation. There are numerous types of corporate crime activities most of which go undetected. As an example is discriminative hiring practice in an organization. According to numerous research findings, hiring discrimination is hard to identify due to the fact that the decision making process during hiring rests on the recruiting officials (Hartley, 2008). This means that reasons given for not hiring a particular candidate can rarely form a case against the employer. Another example is some forms of employment discrimination such as promotions as such are under the authority of the corporate management (Shen, 2009).
Another reason is lack of public awareness on the nature of the various forms of corporate crimes. There has been a common misconception that corporate crime involves financial and property scandals in a corporation. However, corporate crime activities entails commonly witnessed discriminative practices at the workplace as well as in executing social corporate responsibility policies in the society (Yeager, & Clinard, 2006). Due to this reason, most victims of corporate crimes lack the knowledge to appreciate such as a breach to their civil and/or employment rights. This has the implications that the law enforcement and the justice system never get information on such incidences. Therefore, unless the general public is informed of its citizen rights, the process of documenting corporate crime will remain a big challenge.
Although the justice system serves to mitigate through punishment corporate crime activities, most of these cases go unreported. It has been established that most cases of corporate crime are settled before they reach the legal justice system. The work of the law courts is to hear and decide civil and/or criminal cases. They are thus not responsible for conducting investigations on any form of crime (Hartley, 2008). This implies that unless corporate crime cases are brought before the court for hearing, such can not be documented. On the other hand, afraid of tarnishing their reputation, most corporations engage in resolving cases of corporate crime outside the corridors of justice. This denies our criminal justice system and the law enforcement the opportunity to record such incidences.
Most perpetuators of corporate crime activities enjoy strong political power influence. Big corporations are perceived as the driving force of the economy of a nation due to the relative large amount of revenue they give the government. Moreover, available information indicates that most corporations invest much resource in funding for political candidates as a way of seeking government protection for their investments. On the other side, politicians are mandated with the responsibility of defending the rights of the citizens (Hartley, 2008). Further, it is the citizens who fall victims of corporate crime activities in the society. They are subjected to discriminative employment practices as well as suffering the consequence of loosing their investments in stocks market following corporate financial scandals. Thus, the political power enjoyed by big corporations is a source of conflict of interest in the war against corporate crime activities in the society.
In addition, the American nation lacks unified laws relating to corporate crime activities. In its finest details, corporate crime encompasses corporate practices such as insider trading. According to available literature, insider trading is a contradiction to the moral principles on ethic of equal opportunity (Yeager, & Clinard, 2006). This is because it gives corporate official and other individuals unfair advantage of trading in the stocks market based on non-public information. Nevertheless, some jurisdictions have laws allowing insider trading. Although such might dictate for filing a report with the SEC, the unfairness in trading stocks still remains evident. Therefore, with some state government laws allowing for insider trading, the war on corporate crime cannot be effective fought (Hartley, 2008). This calls for ensuring uniformity of laws on the corporate crimes in all state of the United States.
Failure to have a law mandating corporations to publish their crimes is also to be blamed for the challenge facing the documentation and measurement of corporate crimes. It has been sufficiently asserted that the laws of the nation are not quite effective in fighting unethical business practices by corporations. This is because their lacks government involvement in forcing corporation to publish their crimes records as a way of promoting accountability in the corporations. Also, most proponents of publishing corporation’s crimes claim for the need for the corporations to publish the measures which were taken in resolving the crime and the policies put in place to mitigate future recurrence of such vices in the organization (Yeager, & Clinard, 2006). Through this, the justice system or the government will be equipped with the right information to evaluate the magnitude and gravity of corporate crime activities in the nation.
According to the fine definition of corporate crime, some forms of these crimes go unreported due to failure by the relevant government authorities charged with the responsibility. Environmental pollution is one of the most common corporate crime activities in the nation. The principles of effective social responsibility dictates that corporations should give back to the community as a compensation for damages imposed on them due to the operations of the organization (Shen, 2009). Another common failure is witnessed in the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). This is the government body which mandated with the responsibility of resolving employer-union conflicts while protecting the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act (Hartley, 2008). Despite this, the NLRB does little in publishing its records on corporate crime reported by employers or labor unions. This has the implications that failure by relevant government offices to report corporate crimes compromises the process of seeking to document and measure such crimes.
Racial profiling practices have no doubt been associated for quietly promoting corporate crime activities in the American society. Numerous research findings have proved beyond reasonable doubt that hiring discrimination as a corporate crime is driven by perceived racial characteristics of candidates. As an emphasis to this claim, the blacks can be discriminated against on the basis of their violent culture and low educational qualification. Still, immigrants living in the American nations are subjected to poorly paying jobs simply because of their nationality of origin. Such can also be evident from race based promotion practices in many corporations. As has been asserted by many social environments shape our character and attitude towards others in the community, a factor which plays a destructive role in enhancing reporting of corporate crimes.
Corruption among responsible government officials should be blamed for propagating the corporate crime vice. As the common saying goes, corruption is the root of all evil. Corruption should not be perceived as bribery only. It should comprise any other form of act which denies another person their due right. As is witnessed in court cases, the economically and socially advantaged enjoy the privilege of hiring the best lawyers in the nation (Yeager, & Clinard, 2006). On the contrary, the victims of the crime can only manage to gain access to public attorneys. This has been blamed for resulting to compromised decisions which most of the time negate the process of justice; forcing for an out of court settlement of the case. Though hiring an influential lawyer might not sound like corruption, it has no doubt contributed to failure in reporting and documenting many corporate crime activities in the community.
The law on corporate crime in the community has been very unfair to the victims of the practice. It is no uncommon to hear of fining a corporation for corporate crime rather than imposing corporation death penalty to compensate for the victims of the crime. On the other hand such fines are quite low compared to the damages incurred due to the crime. As an example, according to available court statistics, the violation of the Occupations Safety and Health Act entails an average of $910 as fine to the corporation. Just to appreciate is the fact that violations of the Occupations Safety and Health Act might encompass posing substantial probability of death, serious injury, or permanent defamation (Hartley, 2008). Such unfair provisions of the law could be blamed for discouraging victims of corporate crime from taking legal action against the corporation.
Some existing government policies are a negation to the efforts of documenting and measuring corporate crime activities in the American nation. The effectiveness of the rule of the law should never be contradicted by compromised government policies. The laws on employment and business practices are quite clear in prohibiting corporate crime activities. This can be evident from the provisions of the equal employment opportunity law which prohibits all forms of employment discrimination practices (Yeager, & Clinard, 2006). Another important law of corporation conduct is the Sarbanes-Oxley Act which seeks to mitigate unethical practices in the accounting and auditing profession. The formulation and passage of this act was prompted by the collapsing of major US public corporations such as WorldCom and Enron due to financial scandals. The law establishes the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) which dictates qualification of auditors; such are no doubt crucial in ensuring sanity in the accounting profession (Shen, 2009).
On the contrary, during the Bush administration, the government of America adopted a policy that allowed corporations to resolve conflicts internally through probationary agreements. According to the provisions of the policy, corporations are encouraged to quietly avoid entering into court trails for resolution of internal problems. Proponents of this policy claim of its effects in protecting the reputation of corporations in the general public for ensured market share. Given this provision to avoid legal procedures, it is sufficiently clear that the process of documenting and measuring corporate crime is far from being realized. This is because it provides a loophole for corporations to getaway from publicity for engaging in corporate crime activities. Therefore, this government policy should be blamed for complicating the process of documenting and measuring corporate crime in the nation.
The federal government has not implemented a mechanism for tracking the frequency and gravity of the harm caused by corporate crime activities. The existing federal government laws governing business practices are quite clear in prohibiting corporate crime. The purpose of implementing a law is to promote social and economic justice in the community (Hartley, 2008). This means that the government should have a follow-up mechanism to qualify the effectiveness of its laws in serving the purpose they were formulated for. Nevertheless, this has nit been the case for laws concerning corporate crime. This failure by the federal government to access the frequency of corporate crime amounts to failure in enforcing the law. Such assertions are based on the fact that the government fails to instill sense of authority over corporation in the quest for enhancing ethical corporate management practices.
Given the high social and political influence enjoyed by corporations, most victims of corporate crime opt not to report such incidences to the law enforcement. Some cases of corporate crimes such as discriminative hiring and unfair treatment at the workplace are rarely reported. This has been closely attributed to fear of loosing job (Shen, 2009). The economic recession which has hit this nation over the past few years has left millions of American citizens jobless. This means that most Americans are desperately searching for job to regain their economic independence, a move which makes them potential targets of corporate crime. In addition, available statistics have it that most cases of corporate crime target illegal immigrants working, investing, or searching for work in these corporations. Since these people lack the legal authority to report such incidences are never reported.
The controversial debate on the legal definition of corporation has compromised the legal process of effectively identifying and punishing corporate crime. According to some members of the community, corporations are organizations and thus lack the requisite intent of mind, a component which is crucial in determining criminal guilt. Form them, the calls for corporation death penalty is not applicable, but the law should rather target the actual perpetuators of the crime. On the contrary, others define corporations as a business entity which can be represented by an individual and thus qualifies the criterion of determining criminal guilt (Yeager, & Clinard, 2006). This argument is based on the fact that corporations are capable of compensating for their victims just like they are a source of harm to them. This contradiction of meaning brings a legal dilemma which hinders the process of punishing corporate crimes.
In the author’s opinion, the challenges facing the documentation and measurement of the damages caused by corporate crime are due to failure by the government and members of the community. The government should invest resources in implementing a policy for evaluating the gravity and frequency of corporate crime in the society. Such policies should deem it mandatory for corporation to publish their crimes and the strategies put in place to mitigate such in the future. In addition, it should strengthen criminal liability standards for corporations, executives and directors to reflect the damages incurred by the victims (Hartley, 2008). This will serve to instill discipline, integrity and accountability in corporations. Above all, the public should be informed of their rights and the nature of the various forms of corporate crime as well as were to report such incidences. This is because many incidences of corporate crime go unreported as the victims are either not aware it is a crime or do not know where to report.
In conclusion, it is evident that corporate crime encompasses many unethical practices in the business world. They range from simple employment discrimination, to insider trading, to financial scandals in corporations. Due to the diverse nature of this crime, it becomes hard to identify and mitigate. Indeed, most of the publicized responses to corporate crime involve financial scandals; with little attention to other forms of corporate crime (Shen, 2009). The process of documenting and measuring the harm caused by corporate crime has been hindered by failure to report most cases to the relevant authorities. It has been established that although most cases go unreported due to lack of knowledge, the government has failed to encourage such practices. This is evident from the policy adopted by the Bush administration which encourages corporation to quietly avoid court trails by entering into a probationary agreement to address conflicting issues internally. This contradicts efforts to document and measure the harm caused by corporate crime.
Hartley, R. (2008). Corporate Crime: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc.
Shen, C. (2009). Crime in Suites: The Phenomenon of Corporate Deviance. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from http://cshen.ca/file.php?get=sfu/1091/crim104-wall-street.pdf
Yeager, P., Clinard, M. (2006). Corporate Crime. New Brunswick: Transactional Publishers.