Central Problems in Deviant Organization Theory: Isolating the Criminogenic Aspects of Formal Organizations

Michael Siegfried, Coker College

Elite deviance or white-collar crime is primarily thought of as involving large organizations. Traditional criminological theory does not adequately explain crime among people bureaucratically linked to one another. This paper articulates the criminogenic features of formal organizations illustrating how bureaucratic structure contributes to illegal activites. Factors uncovered by existing research are brought together as a step toward a more general theory. Our understanding of the criminogenic aspects of organizational structure is limited to investigations of a few cases of crime primarily in corporations. A comparison of studies of organizational deviance and theoretical discourse is made noting how structural features can be criminogenic. The characteristics of deviant organizational structures are contrasted with legitimate ones. Many new hypotheses emerge. Currently theory of deviant organizations is based on a single or very few studies of a limited number of deviant organizations.

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Updated 05/20/2006