The Effect of "Desire for Control" on Intentions to Engage in Corporate Offending

M. Lyn Exum, University of North Carolina - Charlotte
Nicole Leeper Piquero, University of Florida
Alex R. Piquero, University of Florida
Sally S. Simpson, University of Maryland at College Park

Researchers have identified several perceptual and emotional characteristics that are associated with white-collar and corporate forms of criminal activity. This study examines the effect of another personality characteristic-the "Desire for Control"-on illegal corporate activities. Desire for Control (DC) is the general wish to be in control over everyday life events, and prior research suggests that high DC levels encourage some forms of risky behavior (e.g., gambling). Data for the current study come from corporate executives and MBA students who read vignettes describing various forms of illegal corporate behavior. Participants indicated their likelihood of engaging in a similar act, and also completed a 20-item scale measuring their DC. Consistent with prior research, those with a high desire for control were more likely to endorse corporate offending. We interpret this DC effect on corporate crime as an attempt to exert some control over what is ordinarily a volatile environment-the business market. Implications for theory and future research are addressed.

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Updated 05/20/2006