1. Denial of responsibility.
“When a crime is committed, everyone can, with some degree of plausibility, point the finger at someone else.”
“The competitive structure of the marketplace also generate the perception that they have ‘no choice’ but to violate the law.”
2. Denial of injury.
“Most white collar criminals never meet or interact with those who are harmed by their actions.”
3. Denial of the victim.
“The offender believes he is in fact playing tit-for-tat.”
This can also come from a feeling of being undercompensated.
4. Condemnation of the condemners.
“Business executives dispute the legitimacy of the law under which they are charged.”
Including questioning government motivation in bringing the charges.
5. Appeal to higher loyalties.
“I did it for my family” is one of the most popular excuses for occupational crime.
This can also mean “employees may sometimes feel that they are excused from any accusation of criminality so long as their actions were undertaken for the sake of the firm rather than for reasons of self-interest.”
6. Everyone else is doing it.
Considering illegal conduct can give an unfair competitive advantage to the perpetrator, rivals may feel pressured to follow suit.
7. Claim to entitlement.
“People point to how much ‘good’ a company does (e.g., the number of satisfied customers, happy employees, etc.) as an excusing condition for violation of law.”
Implications for business ethics:
People don’t especially commit crimes due to a lack of knowledge (of what is illegal or unethical). “They are more likely to commit crimes because they have talked themselves into believing some type of excuse for their actions, and they have found a social environment is which this sort of excuse is accepted or encouraged.”
Business leaders / ethics training must deal with these rationalizations, and create an environment in which such behavior are not accepted.
– Reference “Business Ethics and Moral Motivation: A Criminological Perspective” by Joseph Heath (Journal of Business Ethics, Vol 83, No 4)