The Missing Account of Progressive Corporate Criminal Law

72 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2017 Last revised: 13 Mar 2019

See all articles by William S. Laufer

William S. Laufer

University of Pennsylvania - Legal Studies Department

Date Written: September 1, 2017


This Article offers a modern progressive account of corporate criminal law using foundational principles of twentieth century progressivism. The central role of science and advancing technology define the architecture of this account. Some of the intractable challenges of using the criminal law to regulate corporations are reviewed, followed by a recognition of a remarkable convergence of corporate compliance standards, measures, practices, and insights from conventional, plural, and polycentric theories of regulation. This is a convergence of informal corporate social controls offering a potentially powerful opportunity for the promotion of modern progressive interests, practices, and advocacy. Next, the two pillars of twentieth century progressivism, the instrumental use of science and social control, are discussed. A “compliance conundrum,” it is argued, undermines corporate commitments to compliance science, technology, and more effective social controls. This conundrum contributes to a compliance game where corporate and regulatory players placate each other with an outcome that often has little to do with greater law abidance. With a glimmer hope, this Article concludes by considering the unique position of progressives to disrupt the compliance game while promoting corporate criminal justice.

Keywords: Regulation, Compliance, Governance, Corporate Criminal Law, Corporate Crime

JEL Classification: K14, K20, K22, K23, K42

Suggested Citation

Laufer, William S., The Missing Account of Progressive Corporate Criminal Law (September 1, 2017). New York University Journal of Law and Business, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2017, Available at SSRN: or

William S. Laufer (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Legal Studies Department ( email )

3730 Walnut Street
Suite 600
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States
(215) 898-7693 (Phone)
(215) 573-2006 (Fax)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics