Do the Ends Justify the Means: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach to Illegal Organizational Activity

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Publication Date

Summer 2014


This study examines possible internal antecedents of illegal organizational activity through the criminology lens of strain and the management lens of control to inform a theoretical framework that explores why organizations engage in unethical behaviour. We posit that illegal activity, undertaken as a result of an inability to achieve organizational goals through legal means (strain theory), is impacted by the control mechanisms that the owners of corporations and their agents impose on the CEO and managers of the organization. We contribute to the literature on institutional deviance by expanding upon strain theory within an organizational context and considering it in tandem with agency theory.

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