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On the Nature of the Reputational Penalty for Corporate Crime: Evidence

42 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2009  

Cindy R. Alexander

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 1, 1999


Recent literature on optimal sanctions for corporations has focused on coordination and refinement of criminal, civil, and market-based sanctions. This paper contributes to emerging evidence on the reputational penalties that public corporations pay for federal crimes. First, it is shown that offenses harming only private parties and not government tend to be addressed through civil or market-based and not criminal sanctions. Second, when criminal allegations do arise, they are often surrounded by reports of terminated or suspended customer relationships and of management or employee turnover. These reports are more frequent if damaged parties are customers, as in fraud, than if they are third parties, as in environmental crime, and if stock prices decline significantly at the first news of crime. All of these features are consistent with characterizations of reputational penalties found in the literature. Findings on the non-atomistic nature of damaged parties suggest directions for future research.

JEL Classification: K2, K32, K4, L14, G14, G38

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Cindy R., On the Nature of the Reputational Penalty for Corporate Crime: Evidence (April 1, 1999). Available at SSRN: or

Cindy Alexander (Contact Author)

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ( email )

United States

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