Featured Research

Using meta-analysis under conditions of definitional ambiguity: the case of corporate crime
M. Rorie, M. Alper, N. Schell-Busey, S.S. Simpson

Given the reliance on meta-analyses to produce criminal justice policy recommendations, it is important to think critically about how this method is being applied in practice. In this study, we use data from a meta-analysis of corporate crime deterrence to demonstrate that applying meta-analytic methods to conceptually ambiguous research domains is problematic. Although meta-analysis is capable of modeling methodological variations in different research projects examining the same construct, analysts should not assume that meta-analytic methods are always appropriate; methodological differences may reflect underlying conceptual dissimilarities – this violates an assumption of meta-analysis. We also offer a critique of the corporate crime field for failing to clearly define its outcome, a critique that can be extended to other areas of criminological study. FULL ARTICLE.

Research Briefs

Illegal Roaming and File Manipulation on Target Computers
The results of previous research indicate that the presentation of deterring situational stimuli in an attacked computing environment shapes system trespassers’ avoiding online behaviors during the progression of a system trespassing event. Nevertheless, none of these studies comprised an investigation of whether the effect of deterring cues influence system trespassers’ activities on the system. Moreover, no prior research has been aimed at exploring whether the effect of deterring cues is consistent across different types of system trespassers. We examine whether the effect of situational deterring cues in an attacked computer system influenced the likelihood of system trespassers engaging in active online behaviors on an attacked system, and whether this effect varies based on different levels of administrative privileges taken by system trespassers. By using data from a randomized experiment, we find that a situational deterring cue reduced the probability of system trespassers with fewer privileges on the attacked computer system (nonadministrative users) to enter activity commands. In contrast, the presence of these cues in the attacked system did not affect the probability of system trespassers with the highest level of privileges (administrative users) to enter these commands. Full study is available.

Controversial Use Of Administrative Proceedings
In October 2016, C-BERC’s Associate Director Gideon Mark, associate professor of logistics, business and public policy at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, published an article entitled “SEC and CFTC Administrative Proceedings.”  The article appears in Volume 19 of the University of Pennsylvania’s Journal of Constitutional Law and can be found on both Westlaw and LexisNexis.  The article concerns the controversial use of administrative proceedings to enforce the federal securities laws and Commodities Exchange Act.

Corporate Crime Deterrence: A Systematic Review

Sally S. Simpson, Melissa Rorie, Mariel Alper, Natalie Schell-Busey
With William S. Laufer and N. Craig Smith

A Systematic Review Campbell Systematic Reviews 2014:4
DOI: 10.4073/csr.2014.4

Focusing on legal and administrative prevention and control strategies, this systemic review and meta-analysis examines the effect of legal and administrative interventions such as new laws or changes in laws, inspections by regulatory agencies, punitive sanctions and non-punitive interventions aimed at deterring or controlling illegal behaviors by firms and their representative managers. The review process identified nearly 30,000 studies that were potentially relevant for inclusion, but only 265 met the eligibility criteria for the systematic review.

Taken as a whole, our basic findings are inconclusive regarding treatment effects. Looking at the specific mechanisms, the impact of law on corporate crime showed a modest deterrent effect at the firm and geographical level of analysis (there was not enough data to calculate effect sizes for individuals) but only for cross sectional studies. Punitive sanctions also reveal a tendency toward deterrence across units of analysis, but with relatively few effects are significant regardless of study design. The one area where there appears to be a consistent treatment effect is in the area of regulatory policy, but only at the individual level. Effects for other levels are contradictory (with some positive and others iatrogenic) and none are statistically significant. Multiple interventions is the only treatment category to demonstrate a small but consistent treatment effect at both the individual and company level. Although there are not enough studies to thoroughly test this approach as it applies to corporate deterrence, recognizing the need for different types and levels of interventions is consistent with the enforcement pyramid developed by Braithwaite and the pulling levers “varied menu” of sanctions (Kennedy, 1997) which have showed promise in the prevention and control of violence (Braga and Weisburd, 2012).

Campbell Collaboration Systematic Review of Corporate Crime Deterrence
The overall objective of this research is to identify and synthesize published and unpublished studies on formal legal and administrative prevention and control strategies—i.e., the actions and programs of government law enforcement agencies, legislative bodies, and regulatory agencies on corporate crime. This review has considered all types of legal and regulatory practices as long as corporate crime prevention and control was part of the outcome. The study provides a systematic assessment and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of the identified strategies and programs. - Sally S. Simpson, Principal Investigator

Building a Federal Statistical Series on White Collar Offending (grant funded by the Bureau of Justice Statistics)
This project has multiple objectives: (1) to propose a definition of white-collar crime that is consistent with data currently held by BSJ and data developed and utilized by regulatory agencies; (2) to identify regulatory agencies with whom BJS can partner to build a more comprehensive data set and specify how agency cooperation will be sought; (3) to map how regulatory agencies process offenses, especially identifying similarities and differences in legal/legislative authority, decision processes, available sanctions, levels of analysis, and ultimately the kinds of data collected in processing across agencies so that BJS can develop and implement the means to standardize coding and presentation of data across the variety of data sources; (4) to describe the kinds of regulatory agency data that are available on-line and the challenges associated with extracting and converting these data into statistical tables; and (5) to propose a pilot analysis using data from a sample of federal judicial districts that will integrate individual case-level data on regulatory actions and criminal and civil actions to assess the “totality” of sanctions imposed on white-collar offenders. - Sally S. Simpson, Principal Investigator (with Peter C. Yeager, Boston University)

Public Willingness to Pay for White-Collar Fraud Control
Funded by the National Institute of Justice, this study provides policy-relevant evidence on the public’s attitudes towards white-collar and corporate frauds. In particular, the study will offer (1) new evidence on the cost of white-collar and corporate frauds, (2) an assessment of how the public’s willingness-to-pay might vary with policy alternatives such as civil versus criminal adjudication, and (3) a comprehensive analysis of how the public’s willingness-to-pay varies by the information provided on factors (e.g., details of the offense, the offender, the victim, and the institutional approach to handling the offense). We also will explore the feasibility of collecting self-report data on fraud offending. Data for this research will be collecting using knowledge panel survey methodology. - Sally S. Simpson, Co-Principal Investigator (Mark A. Cohen, Vanderbilt Co-Principal Investigator, and Tom Laughran, University of Maryland, Co-Principal Investigator)