Punishing Corporations

53 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2019

See all articles by Mark A. Cohen

Mark A. Cohen

Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics; Vanderbilt University - Law School; Resources for the Future

Date Written: May 30, 2019


This paper explores the legal and economic theories, and empirical evidence of government-imposed punishment for corporate wrongdoing. Among the questions addressed are: What is the purpose of corporate criminal law? How are sanctions to be determined? When should firms versus individuals be held criminally liable for corporate wrongdoing? When should the criminal law be used instead of regulatory agency actions? Regardless of the rationale, criminal punishment of corporations for the wrongdoing of its owners, managers, and/or employees, has taken on an important role in the U.S. and globally. The limited empirical evidence on the use of criminal sanctions for corporate wrongdoing since the 1980s shows considerable increases in monetary sanctions over time. However, a large part of that increase can be attributed to larger crimes, not just larger sanctions. The use of nonmonetary sanctions (e.g., corporate probation) has also grown significantly over time.

Keywords: Economics of Crime, Financial Crime, Fraud, Punishment, Monetary Sanctions, Corporate Probation, Sentencing Guidelines, Deferred Prosecution Agreements

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Mark A., Punishing Corporations (May 30, 2019). Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3396586 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3396586

Mark A. Cohen (Contact Author)

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HOME PAGE: http://https://business.vanderbilt.edu/bio/mark-cohen/

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