Crime is divided into different types: ordinary/conventional; organizational /occupational. Conventional crime engulfs crimes of violence like rape, assault, and murder. On the other hand, theoccupational crime consists of aviolation of laws in the course of carrying out a legitimate occupation and is also dubbed “white collar crime.” Lastly, organizational crime is committed by large organizations when they participate in illegal means to achieve their goals. Organizational crime is commonly referred to as acorporate crime.
Corporate crime, in criminology, refers to crimes committed by a business entity or corporation or by individuals acting in place of a corporation or any business entity. The main problem of defining corporate crime is that some negative behaviors by corporations are not termed as criminal, and this is primary because laws vary between jurisdictions.For example, corporate crime overlaps when it comes to white-collar crime, organized crime, and state-corporate crime. For whitecrime, it is because many individuals who might act or represent corporation interests are white-collar professionals whereas organized crime may involve criminals who set up corporations for crime purposes or as laundering vehicles of crime. Lastly, state-corporate crime has contexts where the opportunity to commit crime develops from relationships between corporations and the state.
Because of the reasons above, the definition of any “crime” that is used in acorporate crime is any undertaking or act punishable by the state(Clinard etal., 1980, p.xiv). According toSutherland et al. (1983), the critical characteristic of crime what the state prohibits, or, that which brings injury to the state and against which the state, as a whole, may react by punishment. However, in legal terms, only corporate offenses prosecuted under thecriminal law could be termed as truly “criminal.”
Another problem concerning corporate crime is investigating its frequency. It is impossible to tell definitely whether acorporate crime has increased over the recent times. There are rare studies carried out regarding corporate crime. Consequently, it has been impossible to carry out tests of conclusions reached by a certain study. There are no definitive assessments on the commonality of corporate crime in the U.S. Even the F.B.I has not yet compiled comprehensive data on corporate crime in its crime reports. However, there are indications that major corporations in different industries have at one point engaged in activities that are ethically wrong, even if not termed as outright illegal. Sociologist Edwin H.Sutherland carried out a study on corporate crime in 1949 and found out that 70 non-financial corporations had been convicted of 980 criminal and civil charges. The data showed that each company had been convicted of an average of 14 crimes. Many companies have been convicted of acrime in the past as well. Examples include pharmaceutical organizations which withhold information regarding negative side effects of drugs that they market.
All the same, corporate crimes have proved difficult to detect and even prosecute, whether because the illegal behavior is buried within a deep network of transactions or because the wrongdoing can be passed onto an individual or specific employees (Pontell & Geis, 2007, p.188).