While Collar and Corporate Crimes

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WhileCollar and Corporate Crimes

WhileCollar and Corporate Crimes

Itis generally perceived that crime involves the use of force tovictimize targeted individuals, but the members of the public fail toconsider that close to half of all crimes that are committed annuallydo not require the use of force. These special crimes includecorporate and white collar crimes that are mainly perpetrated byeducated people who would otherwise be considered as respectablemembers of the society. White collar crime is defined as anon-violent type of crime that is mainly committed by government ofbusiness officials, which corporate crimes refers to similar crimesthat are commit to or on behalf of corporations through manipulationof documents (Gottschalk, 2011, p. 5-6). According to CengageLearning (2016, p. 1) close to half (46.5 %) of all household andabout 36 % of individual crimes reported annually are white collar.Most of the corporate and white collar crimes include identity theft,bank theft, telemarketing, mail crime, and computer crimes. Theconcept of white collar crime was coined by Edwin Southerland in theyear 1939 after observing that the people who were considered by thesociety used to engage illegal behaviors, which betrayed theexpectations of the society (Stadler, 2012, p. 495 and (Schoepfer,2004, p. 6). This paper will focus on the key sources of motivationfor engagement in white collar and corporate crime.

Generalstrain theory

Thestrain is used to explain the motivation of some classes ofindividuals to engage in the while collar crimes. The theory holdsthat people commit crime when frustrations or strains that resultsfrom theory emotions become too much to bear. The primary cause ofthese frustrations is the rules that are set by the society to guideits members in conducting their operations and achieving their goalsin life. When contributing towards the advancement of the straintheory, Langton (2007, p. 3) and Graycar (2001, p. 2) stated that thesociety have been moving progressively from lawlessness to a modernsociety that is able to create laws and rules that ought to befollowed by all of its members.

Breakingthese laws leads to punishment. However, there is a group ofdisadvantaged members of the society who feel frustrated afterfailing to achieve their goals by using the rules that have been setby the society. These frustrations cause strain to the disadvantagedpersons and subject them to the risk of breaking the laws by way ofengaging in while collar crimes in order to find short-cuts that canhelp them achieve their goals (Agne, 2011, p. 431 and Alalehto, 2015,p. 31). For example, fraudulent activities are prohibited by the law,but managers who fail to achieve their financial success goals feelstrained and to break the anti-fraud laws to get easy cash. Thestrain may also occur after observing age-mates and coworkersprogress financial, which tempts the disadvantaged person to engagein the white collar crimes in order to also climb up the ladder.


Theopportunity perspective is founded on the notion that crime onlyoccurs when offenders are presented with an opportunity to engage insuch kind of crime. This assumption explain the occurrence ofdifferent types of crimes in different settings because the type ofcrime that offenders commit is directly influenced by specificcharacteristics of the opportunity that comes their way (Eck, 2008,p. 178). Different settings provide offenders with opportunities thattend to vary in terms of attractiveness and accessibility. Forexample, the strength of internal controls in an organizationdetermines the attractiveness of the opportunity for managers of thatorganization to engage in crime. Cash transactions that are lesmonitored present more attractive and accessible opportunities forwhite and corporate crimes.

Theroutine activity theory enhance the understanding of the opportunityperspective by stating that conditions for crime must include thetarget, a common location that an offender can access the target, anda motivated offender (Eck, 2008, p. 178 and Simpson, 2013). Theelement of location may be replaced by the availability of networksthat permit motivated offenders to access “places” from wherethey can access their victims. This idea can be used to explain tofraudulent activities that occur in the Medicaid programs. In thiscase, the health care providers who are motivated to engage in fraudtake advantage of the confusions that surround the billing proceduresto access their victims and make false claims (Piquero, 2004, p.152).

Thecrime pattern theory holds that offenders identify attractive andaccessible opportunities when carrying out their daily lifeactivities. It becomes easier for the white collar offenders to findviable opportunities in the settings that they are more familiar withthan those that they are not familiar with. For example, most of thewhile crimes and corporate crimes that are reported in the modernworld are either committed by people working in the affected worksettings or by outside offenders who collude with people who work forthe victim companies (Eck, 2008, p. 180). This implies that motivatedoffenders of white and corporate crimes are tempted to engage incrime when opportunities come by in their work settings.

Thefraud triangle and the motivation to engage in crime

Thefraud triangle theory explains three elements that increase the riskof an individual engaging in crime. These factors include theperceived opportunity, perceived un-shareable financial needs orpressure, and rationalization (Ramamoorti, 2008, p. 525 and Cliff,2014, p. 482). The element of opportunity under the fraud triangletheory is based on the same notion as the theories of opportunity.This element is founded on the idea that people commit crime, whiteor corporate, when they identify opportunities that they are capableof using to their advantage. Apart from the opportunity beingaccessible and attractive to the potential offender, the chances ofusing the opportunity and concealing the evidence increase themotivation of potential offenders to exploit the availableopportunities (Glasbeek, 2015, p. 1). In most cases, people whoengage in white as well as corporate crimes are elite members of thesociety and employees with technical knowledge that they can apply toconceal the evidence of their crimes. These offenders have theknowledge that helps them identify flaws in financial reporting,weaknesses in internal controls, poor procedures, processes, andineffective oversight. Therefore, weaknesses in the internalcontrols, accessibility of assets or the target, and possession ofknowledge that can help potential offenders cover the evidencemotivate people to commit crime.

Opportunitiesto engage in white or corporate crimes may be available, but it isnot all people who can exploit them unless they under pressure thatthey cannot withstand. In other words, the pressure to fulfillcertain needs that are beyond one’s financial capacity increase thechances of taking advantage of the accessible and attractiveopportunities that are in one’s environment (Abdullahi, 201, p.39). This has been confirmed by the observation that most ofcorporate crime are white crimes involve financial assets or othertypes of assets that can be easily converted into cash since thepressure comes from the perceived needs that are fulfilled usingmoney (Bhasin, 2013, p. 28). Although most of the crimes involvepressure from perceived need to access cash, there are a fewinstances in which the pressure comes from non-financial needs, suchas the sense of unjust treatment at work, a decline in the jobsatisfaction, discrimination, job dissatisfaction, and the fear oflosing the job (Glasbeek, 2015, p. 1).

Thelast element in the fraud triangle theory is rationalization, whichinvolves the attempt by offenders to justify their offences usingdifferent reasons. The concept of rationalization is common amongoffenders who believe that they have genuine reasons to engage incrime. Studies have shown that a number of corporate and white collarcrimes are perpetrated by ordinary people who are considered to belaw abiding and morally upright (Glasbeek, 2015, p. 1). These peopletend to justify their engagement in white collar and corporate crimesusing different reasons, such as underpayment by the company,replacement of the bonus that they were denied, or bad treatment atthe place of work. Other offenders use pressure to justify theircrime. For example, employees handling the company finances mayconvince themselves that they are just “borrowing” some moneyfrom the company, though without following the laid downauthorization process, and then return the cash later.Rationalization plays the role of reduce the feeling of guilt, whichin turn give respectable citizens the courage to commit crime. Tothis end, the fraud triangle theory explains the motivation to engagein crime by showing that the availability of opportunities,individual’s pressure to meet some obligations, and facts that onecan use to justify their engagement in crime motivate people whowould otherwise be considered as respectable citizens to engage incorporate or white collar crimes. However, the theory holds that thethree factors must present for a potential offender to be motivatedto an extent of commit the crime.

Rationalchoice theory

Thetheory of rational choice provides a framework for explaining thesocial as well as the economic aspects of human behavior. The termrationale is often used to refer to the human tendency to what moreas opposed to wanting good. In the context of the white collar andcorporate crimes, the term rationale is used to imply that those whocommit the white collar crimes take time to reason and use theirlogical thinking to plan before acting (Shover, 2011, p. 10). Studieshave shown that offenders who engage in white collar crimes are morelikely to think rationally compared to street criminals (Kenan, 2009,p. 36). In addition, offenders in the white collar crimes rarelyengage in drugs or any kind of self-destructive behavior. The use ofrational or logical reasoning is confirmed by the fact that the whitecollar offenders are always willing to delay or postpone short-termindulgencies in order to pursue long-term gains (Siegel, 2012, p.38). Therefore, the rational choice theory suggests that the whilecollar offenders feel motivated to engage in crime once they discoverthat they have the skills and the knowledge to exploit someopportunities without harming themselves. This gives them a sensethat they have the capacity to get way with easy cash to satisfytheir needs without any substantial risk.

Theneutralization theory

Thistheory is explain people’s motivation to engage in corporate orwhite collar crimes by showing how they are able to drift in and outof the values set by the society and their orthodox attitudes(Siegel, 2012, 408). Different categories of offenders use at leastone of the five techniques considered below to neutralize theiractions and behavior. The first technique is denial ofresponsibility, where offenders make claims that they did not haveresponsibility over their actions. This category of offenderscompares themselves to helpless balls that are kicked to anydirection by an external force (Gottschalk, 2011, p. 10 Lanier, 2004,p. 1).

Thesecond technique is denial of injury, where offenders claim thattheir actions did not cause any harm to people. The categories ofoffenders who try to neutralize their actions using this techniquemostly include computer hackers who hold that attacking computershave no direct harm on owners of those computers.

Thethird technique is defense of necessity, which involves theneutralization of offenses by claiming that rule breaking was act ofnecessity. The use of this technique reduces the feeling of guilt.

Fourth,the technique condemnation of condemners is used to neutralizeoffenses by passing the blame to victims or people who are trying toblame the offender (Gottschalk, 2012, p. 578 and Gottschalk, 2013, p.76). For example, many offenders tend to belief that the laws theybroke were unreasonable, which implies that the blame ought to bepassed to the law makers and not to the offenders.

Thelast technique is an appeal that offenders make to higher loyalties.This technique is mainly used by employees who tend to believe thatthey must break the law or company policies in order to have theirresponsibilities accomplished (Croal, 2001, p. 135). Therefore, theneutralization theory indicates that the availability of facts thatone can use to neutralize criminal behavior motivates people toengage in crime in order to achieve their personal goals.

Differentialassociation and motivation to engage in criminal behavior

Itis common knowledge that peer groups can influence people to indulgein either negative or positive behavior. The differential associationperspective is based on the same idea, where it holds that peopletend to learn the wrong attitudes, values, motives, and techniquesfor criminal behavior from the people that they interact with(Matsueda, 2006, p. 6). The differential theory departs from thenotion that people are capable of being motivated individually andtake actions as independent and rational actors. To this end, thetheory tends to predict people’s engagement in crime or theirtendency to select criminal behavior as opposed to the correctbehavior when their perceived balance of definition for law abidingis less than the definition for law breaking.

Ideally,the differential association is founded on the notion that criminalbehavior is usually learned through interactions. However, there is ahigh risk of learning criminal behavior from members of intimategroups through communication as opposed to non-intimate groups(Matsueda, 2000, p. 126) and Apel, 2009, p. 18). Learning thatculminates to engagement in crime involve the sharing of a package ofall elements that are required for one to accomplish a crime. Theseelements include the drive, motives, attitudes, and rationalizationtechniques (Croal, 2001, 71 and Pontell, 2007, p. 81). A combinationof these negative elements tend to favor the definition of lawbreaking as opposed to obedience, which in turn motive individualslearners to engage in criminal behavior. This implies that thepassion of knowledge and skills that can lead to successful criminalschemes, all of which are learned from the peer groups serve as thekey motivating factor for engagement in the criminal behavioraccording to the differential learning theory.

Thegeneral theory of crime, the self-control perspective, and motivationfor white collar crime

Thegeneral theory of crime is founded on the notion that offenders tendto be impulsive and in most cases fail acknowledge the long-termramifications of their actions (Logo, 2013, p. 22). Thisimpulsiveness coupled with the inadequate capacity to acknowledge theconsequences is associated with the lack of self-control. The theoryholds that self control is learned during childhood, which impliesthat parents play a critical role in helping their children acquireskills that can help them practice self-control. Good parents helptheir children acquire self-control through supervision, monitoring,recognizing their anti-social behavior, and consistent punishment forany case of misbehavior (Logo, 2013, p. 24). Low self-control amongoffenders is indicated by high temper, self-centeredness, preferencefor physical activities to verbal communication, the lack of care forlong-term consequences, and impulsiveness. These characteristics areconsistent with an observation that people who engage in white collarcrimes are often impulsive and high risk takers, who do not seem tomind and the long-term impact of their actions on their life andcareer (Logo, 2013, p. 23). This implies that the lack ofself-control, which results from poor parenting, may be a keymotivating factor for engagement in corporate crimes and white collarcrimes.


Corporateand white collar crimes have been increasing exponentially, and themotivation from people’s engagement in these categories of crimecan be derived from multiple sources. Different theorists use theirlogical reasoning to explain the mechanisms that results in the highprevalence of the white as well as the corporate crimes that aremainly conducted by elite people and people might be considered asrespectable citizens. The general strain theory holds that strains offrustrations from personal life can motivate respectable people tocommit corporate or white collar crimes. The opportunity and thefraud triangle theories hold that people are mainly motivated toengage in crime by the availability of opportunities that areaccessible and attractive. From the rational choice perspective,respectable people are motivated to engage in crime by theirpossession of certain skills and knowledge that gives them theconfidence that they have all it might take for them to commit crimeand go scot free. The neutralization perspective holds thatmotivation for engagement in crime is derived from the availabilityof facts that one can use and justify or neutralize their criminalbehavior. The differential perspective present a unique view of thewhite collar crime by stating that crime is learned and people whoengage in it learn delinquent behavior from their social groups ofpeers. The general theory of crime attributes the motivation tocommit crime to poor parenting, which results in the lack ofself-control. The theories present unique sources of motivation,which implies that people’s tendency to engage in crime cannot beattributed to a single source of motivation.

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