In Search of Effective Ethics & Compliance Programs

39 Journal of Corporation Law 769 (2014)

University of Tennessee Legal Studies Research Paper No. 229

64 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2013 Last revised: 9 Nov 2014

See all articles by Maurice E. Stucke

Maurice E. Stucke

University of Tennessee College of Law; The Konkurrenz Group

Date Written: December 10, 2013


The U.S. Sentencing Commission's Organizational Guidelines for over twenty years have offered firms a significant financial incentive to develop an ethical organizational culture. Nonetheless, corporate crime persists. Too many ethics programs remain ineffective.

As this Article explores, the Guidelines' current approach is not working. The evidence, including sentencing data over the past twenty years, reveals that few firms have effective ethics and compliance programs. Nor is there much hope that the Guidelines' incentive will induce companies, after the economic crisis, to become more ethical.

The problem is not attributable to three assumptions underlying the Guidelines. The empirical research, while still developing, suggests that compliance efforts can be effective, and that effective compliance is attainable.

Instead the problem is likely attributable in part to the fourth assumption. This Article explores how the Guidelines’ extrinsic, incentive-based approach to compliance does not cure, and likely contributes to, the problem.

Keywords: Organizational Guidelines, compliance, ethics, antitrust, FCPA, organizational culture, intrinsic motivation, behavioral economics

JEL Classification: K21, K14, K42, L40

Suggested Citation

Stucke, Maurice E., In Search of Effective Ethics & Compliance Programs (December 10, 2013). 39 Journal of Corporation Law 769 (2014); University of Tennessee Legal Studies Research Paper No. 229. Available at SSRN: or

Maurice E. Stucke (Contact Author)

University of Tennessee College of Law ( email )

1505 W. Cumberland Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37996
United States
865-974-9816 (Phone)


The Konkurrenz Group ( email )

5335 Wisconsin Ave., NW
Suite 440
Washington, DC 20015
United States

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