A forcefully developed and documented contribution to our further understanding of high-level criminality in lightly...

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WHY THEY DO IT

INSIDE THE MIND OF THE WHITE-COLLAR CRIMINAL

A groundbreaking study of the psychology and motivations of white-collar criminals.

Using interviews, correspondence, and phone calls over seven years with, among many others, Bernie Madoff, Enron’s chief financial officer Andrew Fastow, and Tyco’s Dennis Kozlowski, Soltes (Business Administration/Harvard Business School) provides special insight into insider trading, violations of financial reporting requirements, and pyramid schemes. In his impressive debut, the author has gathered in one place the thoughts and reflections of this group of criminals, many of whom have become well-known thanks to extensive media exposure. Soltes begins with a theoretical discussion of the roots of human behavior in an intriguing attempt to discern how propensities for ethical misconduct and criminal behavior occur. The subsequent discussions with the perpetrators concern their crimes, motives, and rationalizations. The author refutes the contention that white-collar criminality is distinct from criminality at large as essentially a race- or class-driven argument. He emphasizes instead how the business environment and the incentives for management to succeed foster white-collar crime. Management decisions, he insists, involve moral choices since they involve “the potential to help or harm another person.” Soltes prefers to “consider the possibility that illegal business decisions—moral decisions in their own right—are actually made much like any other kind of decision.” The interviewees’ rationalizations and “euphemistic labeling” are quite illustrative. Fastow, Enron’s financial wizard, said, “I was doing exactly what I was incentivized to do. We wouldn’t have gone through all this trouble if we just wanted to cheat. We were finding ways to get around the rules but going through a complex process to find the loopholes to allow us to do it.” Madoff preferred to view the fraudulent scheme for which he was convicted as “something closer to oversight than to recklessness.” The author also discusses the regulations related to white-collar crime and corrects some popular misconceptions—about insider trading, for example.

A forcefully developed and documented contribution to our further understanding of high-level criminality in lightly regulated free markets.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61039-536-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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IN COLD BLOOD

"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.

REIMAGINING CAPITALISM IN A WORLD ON FIRE

A well-constructed critique of an economic system that, by the author’s account, is a driver of the world’s destruction.

Harvard Business School professor Henderson vigorously questions the bromide that “management’s only duty is to maximize shareholder value,” a notion advanced by Milton Friedman and accepted uncritically in business schools ever since. By that logic, writes the author, there is no reason why corporations should not fish out the oceans, raise drug prices, militate against public education (since it costs tax money), and otherwise behave ruinously and anti-socially. Many do, even though an alternative theory of business organization argues that corporations and society should enjoy a symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit, which includes corporate investment in what economists call public goods. Given that the history of humankind is “the story of our increasing ability to cooperate at larger and larger scales,” one would hope that in the face of environmental degradation and other threats, we might adopt the symbiotic model rather than the winner-take-all one. Problems abound, of course, including that of the “free rider,” the corporation that takes the benefits from collaborative agreements but does none of the work. Henderson examines case studies such as a large food company that emphasized environmentally responsible production and in turn built “purpose-led, sustainable living brands” and otherwise led the way in increasing shareholder value by reducing risk while building demand. The author argues that the “short-termism” that dominates corporate thinking needs to be adjusted to a longer view even though the larger problem might be better characterized as “failure of information.” Henderson closes with a set of prescriptions for bringing a more equitable economics to the personal level, one that, among other things, asks us to step outside routine—eat less meat, drive less—and become active in forcing corporations (and politicians) to be better citizens.

A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5417-3015-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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