Summer Reading: Corporate Wrongdoing and the Art of Accusation

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9780857287946_1_2Looking for some summer reading for those hazy, lazy days of July? Donald Palmer’s review of Robert R. Faulker’s book “Corporate Wrongdoing and the Art of Accusation” appeared in the June issue of Administrative Science Quarterly.

Robert R. Faulker: Corporate Wrongdoing and the Art of Accusation. New York: Anthem Press, 2011. 192 pp. $32.95, paper. ISBN 9780857287946.

Inquiry in contemporary organizational theory into the causes of wrongdoing in and by organizations can be neatly packaged in a very small box. It exclusively focuses on the factors that can lead organizational participants and organizations to engage in wrongdoing, concentrating on factors related to rational choice, cultural prescriptions, and performance strain. Further, it analyzes a narrow range of types of wrongdoing: types that result in administrative sanctions, civil judgments, and criminal convictions. Organizational scholars for the most part completely ignore the labeling process by which organizational behaviors are designated wrongful and organizational actors are classified as wrongdoers. This labeling process is an important cause of wrongdoing. Simply put, there can be no wrongdoing unless someone or some organization draws a line separating right from wrong. Organizational theorists for the most part also ignore the large volume of wrongful behaviors that do not result in administrative sanctions, civil ASQ_v59n2_Jun2014_cover.inddjudgments, and legal convictions.

Robert Faulkner’s Corporate Wrongdoing and the Art of the Accusation rectifies these omissions. It focuses on accusations of wrongdoing that are voiced by buyers and suppliers, business partners and competitors, and governmental and non-governmental watchdogs and that are amplified by media organizations and others. Accusations are “between” private complaints and semi-public rumors, on the one hand, and official investigations, indictments, and convictions, on the other. Their intermediate status is reflected in the degree to which they are public and the extent to which they are adjudicated by officially constituted social control agents. As such, accusations, Faulkner contends, are “red flags” and “signs that something is wrong,” by which he means that organizational relationships have broken down and formal social control reactions are on the horizon.

Click here to read the review of Robert R. Faulker’s “Corporate Wrongdoing and the Art of Accusation” from Administrative Science Quarterly. Don’t forget to sign up for e-alerts and get notified of all the latest research and book reviews from Administrative Science Quarterly!

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