Theorizing financial crimes as moral actions
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The paper maintains that all acts of financial crimes can be explained within a general theory of moral action and analyzed as such. In this regard, the paper presents such a theory – Situational Action Theory (SAT) – and argues that acts of financial crimes result from a perception-choice process involving rational deliberation and experimental habituation, themselves being the outcomes of interactions between individuals and their environments. To examine this argument, the paper draws on two recent high-profile fraud cases to critically discuss the extent to which these crimes should be meaningfully and innovatively analyzed as moral actions and the moral context in which they occur. The findings indicate that the feature most relevant to a criminogenic is its moral context in relation to the opportunities and frictions that it generates. As such, environmental factors along with psychosocial processes of moral education become particularly important in the explanation of why certain moral contexts emerge in particular kinds of settings at a particular point in time. In this regard, SAT can be used as a powerful overarching framework to gain a more comprehensive understanding of peoples’ choice processes to breach moral rules and devise effective crime prevention strategies to combat fraud.
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