Reevaluating Corporate Criminal Responsibility: It's All About Power

21 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2012

Date Written: June 2012


Challenging the neoclassical economic theory that corporate behavior is best governed by the self-regulating process of the free market, this Article maintains that corporations should continue to be subjected to criminal prosecution for violating the law. Stressing the underlying struggle between social and economic institutions to shape our future society, the Author employs institutional economic theory to identify the shortcomings inherent in market-deployed mechanisms as they relate to curtailing corporate criminal behavior. First, the Article details the public mistrust of corporations in light of recent scandals and explores divergent views among academia and practicing attorneys regarding the application of criminal law to artificial entities. Next, the Author examines the relationship of corporations and the criminal law through the lens of institutional economic theory, asserting that financial penalties alone fail to deter corporate criminal activity. The Author rebuffs the claim that individual actors, and not corporations, commit crimes — asserting that corporate cultures tacitly influence the individual actor and thus the entity should bear responsibility for criminal behavior. Finally, the Article suggests assigning criminal liability to corporations is a rational reflection of the public sentiment and eliminating corporations from the ambit of criminal law runs counter to the expectations of society.

Keywords: Corporate crime, corporate hegemony, institutional economics, economic theory, corporate behavior, criminal law, institutional economic theory, corporate cultures, corporate criminal liability, power, organizational culture, knowledge claims, misconduct

Suggested Citation

Pouncy, Charles, Reevaluating Corporate Criminal Responsibility: It's All About Power (June 2012). Stetson Law Review, Vol. 41, No. 1, 2011; Florida International University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-09. Available at SSRN:

Charles Pouncy (Contact Author)


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