AutoRecovery save of White Collar Crime a Form of Occupational Fraud.doc

Practices within their organization that the

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practices within their organization – that the operational practices, while aggressive, were legal and even necessary for the survival of the organization. This phenomenon of rationalization has been studied by the sociologist Robert K. Merton. In 1993, he first theorized that social structures provide motivation for misconduct because they focus individuals on competition, the importance of money in society and the erosion of norms that encourage legitimate money-making behavior (goal orientation). When individual goal orientation receives more emphasis than the norm of the social structure, the norms will lose their power to regulate behavior. This produces a state of "anomie," or normlessness – an important concept in sociology that is said to lead to lawlessness. Merton also defines competitive economic activity – the production, exchange, distribution and consumption of goods, with wealth assuming a "highly symbolic cast" – as "culturally legitimated success-goals." This definition fits closely to the behavior of most profit-seeking organizations. For a business, economic success means not only cultural approval but survival. Regardless of the cultural emphasis on profits, an organization must seek profits, and profits will
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WHITE COLLAR CRIME 25 be a prime indicator of prestige within a society, as well as the key to social mobility within hierarchies of organizations. In short, money talks in the business world. Merton states that, to obtain financial success, individuals must compete, for both the means toward the goal and the goal itself. The availability of both the tools to compete and the profits themselves is limited by insufficient supply and demand. When these limits threaten a competitor with losses, innovation may result in the endless quest for strategic resources. And that innovation, often necessary to obtain the holy grail of financial success, can sometimes be found on the wrong side of the law. It's About the Thrill Yep, committing crimes does give its perpetrators a thrill. High-dollar criminals describe their machinations as having a "kick." They feel as if they're playing a game, and it's the game of their lives. Behaviorists agree. Money is a "generalized reinforcer," linked with many positive factors directly, and often taking on a symbolic power of its own, yielding a condition of strength. Game-playing exerts something similar on its participants. Someone who manipulates a chessboard or a deck of cards successfully gains a sense of strength over external events. We can play the game "for its own sake" because it yields the impression of strength. Imagine the emotional charge to the "player" when the game's power is combined with money as a generalized reinforcer, and both of these factors are played out with real people and settings. This dealmaker is racing through a thicket of reinforcements, and the greater the risk – financial, legal, personal – the greater the thrill. Now, with a generation growing up playing action video games and living with cloud realities, isn't it realistic to foresee some professionals wanting to duplicate these thrills in their real lives?
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  • Fall '13
  • white collar, Enron Corporation

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