Understanding and responding to criminal conduct in organisations by senior management

Russell Smith1
1NA, Kyneton, Australia

This paper considers the problem of criminal conduct perpetrated by chief executives and senior managers in public and private sector organisations. Recent reports have seen various types of crime alleged against heads of corporations, senior government officials, professional advisers and managers of non-profit bodies – for personal financial gain, for organisational purposes (such as bolstering failing businesses, concealing internal misconduct, or protecting reputations), or for personal gratification, particularly of a sexual nature. After presenting some illustrative data on the nature of the problem, consideration is given to understanding why otherwise reputable individuals behave criminally, and how they seek to justify their conduct. It is concluded that organisational prevention and response strategies may be better able to achieve general and specific deterrent effects than relying solely on criminal justice responses.

Dr Russell G Smith has qualifications in law, psychology and criminology from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from King’s College London. He practised as a lawyer in Melbourne in the 1980s prior to taking up a lectureship in criminology at the University of Melbourne in 1990. He then accepted a research position at the Australian Institute of Criminology where he is now Principal Criminologist. He has published extensively on aspects of fraud and corruption control, cybercrime and professional regulation and is a Fellow and former President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology.


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