The Deterrent Effects of Ethics Codes for Corporate Crime: A Meta-Analysis
Schell-Busey, Natalie Marie
Simpson, Sally S.
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The current financial crisis, brought on in part by the risky and unethical behaviors of investment banks, has drawn attention to corporate crime, particularly on the issue of how to prevent it. Over the last thirty years, codes of conduct have been a cornerstone of corporate crime prevention policies, and consequently are now widespread, especially among large companies. However, the empirical literature is mixed on the effectiveness of codes, leaving them open to critics who charge that codes can be costly to implement, ineffective, and even criminogenic. In this dissertation I use meta-analysis to examine the evidence regarding the preventative effects of ethics codes for corporate crime. The results show that codes and elements of their support system, like enforcement and top management support, have a positive, significant effect on ethical-decision making and behavior. Based on these results, I propose an integrated approach toward self-regulation founded on Braithwaite's (2002) enforcement pyramid, which specifies that regulation should primarily be built around persuasion with sanctions reserved for situations where a stronger deterrent is needed.