State-Corporate Crime Research Paper

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State-corporate crime has been defined as the illegal or socially injurious actions that occur when one or more institutions of political governance pursue a goal in direct cooperation with one or more institutions of economic production and distribution (Kramer et al. 2002). Originating from a series of papers and articles produced by Ronald Kramer and Raymond Michalowski in the early 1990s (see Michalowski and Kramer 2006), the concept of state-corporate crime unites two parallel streams of criminological literature to draw attention to the mutually dependent interorganizational relationships between governments and private corporations. Scholarship on state-corporate crime seeks to breach the conceptual wall between economic crimes and political crimes in order to create a new lens through which criminologists can examine the ways illegal acts and social harms often emerge from intersections of economic and political power. While the concept of state-corporate crime could be applied to illegal or other socially injurious actions in societies ranging from private production systems to centrally planned political economies, most of the early research focused on state-corporate crimes within the private production system of US capitalism. State-corporate crimes within a global capitalist economy involve the active participation of two or more organizations, at least one of which is in the civil sector and one of which is in the state sector.


The concept and theory of state-corporate crime evolved within the broader tradition of whitecollar crime research in the field of criminology, and it introduces a third form of organizational crime to examine in addition to the separate focus on either corporate or state crime. The roots of the concept can be traced to Edwin Sutherland’s analysis of corporate offenses in his classic work, White-Collar Crime (1949). Over time, two divergent approaches to white-collar crime research emerged. One approach embraced the occupational dimension of white-collar crime, while the other stressed the importance of focusing on organizational offenders. Occupational crimes consist of offenses committed by individuals for their own personal gain in an occupational setting, while corporate crimes are illegal or socially injurious acts committed by corporate officials acting on behalf of the corporation for the benefit of the corporation (Clinard and Quinney 1973). The organizational turn in white-collar crime research retained the importance Sutherland placed on studying crimes of the powerful and paved the way for an organizational analysis of corporate crime (Clinard and Yeager 1980; Kramer 1982).

Although the broader study of white-collar crime also includes offenses committed by government officials, the concept of state crime more explicitly draws attention to the illegal or harmful actions committed by the state as an organizational entity. Highlighting the important relationship between politics and the economy, state crime is often motivated by the need for capital accumulation by modern nation states. Defined as acts prohibited by criminal law and committed by state officials in the pursuit of their jobs as representatives of the state, “stateorganized crime” includes acts such as piracy, smuggling, and illegal spying on citizens (Chambliss 1989). As with corporate offenses, deviant behavior by state actors can take the form of both crimes of commission and of omission (Kauzlarich et al. 2003).

To sum up, after the organizational turn in the field of white-collar crime, two nearly independent bodies of research had developed. Theory and research in the area of corporate crime had concentrated primarily on organizational deviance within private business corporations. Paralleling that work but seldom intersecting with it, others had examined crimes by governments. Despite its ubiquity, the structural relations between corporate and governmental organizations had been relatively peripheral to the study of organizational crime. Kramer and Michalowski suggested that many forms of organizational deviance are generated at the interstices of corporations and government and they introduced the term state-corporate crime to denote these particular forms of organizational deviance.

In addition, rather than limiting inquiry to acts in violation of criminal law, white-collar and organizational crime studies broadened the scope of criminological concern to include violations of other forms of law, such as regulatory law for the study of corporate crime and international law for the analysis of state crime. With regard to crimes of the state, since governments select which behaviors to criminalize, socially harmful actions committed by the state are often exempt from any legal scrutiny. For this reason, some criminologists argue that it is necessary to move beyond the confines of law in favor of approaches that focus on violations of human rights or other forms of social harm (Schwendinger and Schwendinger 1970; Hillyard et al. 2004). The study of state-corporate crime fully supports this expansion of criminological inquiry to encompass violations of regulatory and international law, as well as other legal, but socially injurious behavior, as legitimate phenomena for analysis.


Initially, four case studies (Kramer 1992; Kauzlarich and Kramer 1993; Aulette and Michalowski 1993; Matthews and Kauzlarich 2000) established the foundation for understanding two distinct forms of deviant state-corporate interactions: state-initiated corporate crime and state-facilitated corporate crime. State-initiated corporate crime occurs when corporate entities undertake organizational deviance at the behest or direction of, or with the tacit approval of, government institutions. Illustrating this concept, the case studies of the Challenger explosion and the US production of nuclear weapons both draw attention to explicit role of the state in initiating deviant interorganizational actions. Alternatively, state-facilitated corporate crime occurs when government institutions of social control fail to restrain deviant business actions, either due to direct collusion between corporations and government or because they adhere to common goals that would be thwarted by forceful regulation. Both the investigation of the fire at the Imperial Food Products chicken processing plant and the crash of ValuJet 592 highlight the failure of the state to effectively constrain corporate criminality.

The original development of the concept of state-corporate crime stems from a case study of the deviant state and corporate intersections that resulted in 1986 Challenger space shuttle explosion. At first glance, the explosion of the Challenger appeared to simply be an accident. However, Kramer’s (1992) examination demonstrated how the interactions between a government agency, the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) and Morton Thiokol, Inc. (MTI), a private business corporation, led to risky decisions and unsafe actions that resulted in the death of six astronauts and one school teacher. While the technical cause of the disaster was the failure of the O-ring seal on the solid rocket booster, larger structural and organizational forces increased the likelihood that a dangerous outcome would occur. Budgetary compromises, political pressure to launch, and what (Vaughn 1996) later identified as the “normalization” of deviant practices within the organizational culture at NASA led to a catastrophic explosion.

Also focusing on the historical, political, and contextual factors contributing to deviant state and corporate interactions is Kauzlarich and Kramer’s (1993) study of the environmental damage caused by the US nuclear weapons manufacturing industry. For more than 50 years, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Atomic Energy Commission contracted with private multinational corporations such as Westinghouse, DuPont, General Electric, and Martin Marietta to produce nuclear weapons. While DOE owned the equipment and oversaw the production of nuclear weapons and materials around the country, the corporations were responsible for daily manufacturing operations. Producing nuclear weapons results in enormous amounts of radioactive and nonradioactive hazardous waste. This waste was improperly disposed of causing irreversible environmental damage. For example, two of the most environmentally harmful nuclear weapon facilities, the Hanford facility and the Savannah River plant which both produce plutonium and tritium, have released billions of gallons of liquid waste contaminating the local air, soil, groundwater, rivers, and watersheds. Encouraged by Cold War cultural beliefs and lacking interorganizational oversight, the nuclear weapons industry placed production of defense materials above the environmental consequences of warhead production (Kauzlarich and Kramer, 1993).

Another foundational case study of statecorporate crime by Aulette and Michalowski (1993) details the 1991 fire at the Imperial Food Products chicken processing plant in Hamlet, North Carolina, that resulted in the deaths of 25 workers and injured an additional 56. Although the technical cause of the fire was a rupture in the hydraulic line near the deep fryer that sent a wave of fire throughout the plant, it was discovered that Imperial had deliberately locked the fire doors to prevent employee theft, thereby denying them access to a safe exit. Beyond the actions of Imperial, a complex pattern of regulatory failure was revealed. Facilitated by a long history of privileging business interests over labor, North Carolina’s neglect to fund the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Program severely weakened regulatory oversight designed to protect workers. In contrast to the examinations of the Challenger explosion and the US manufacturing of nuclear weapons that demonstrate the direct role of the state in the commission of corporate wrongdoing, the Hamlet fire study identified a different type of relationship in which the state indirectly creates the conditions for corporate crime to occur (Aulette and Michalowski 1993).

Matthews and Kauzlarich’s (2000) examination of the crash of ValuJet Flight 592 in the Florida Everglades on May 11, 1996, helps to further define the role of the state in facilitating corporate crime. While the explicit cause of the crash that killed all 105 passengers and five crewmembers was the explosion of oxygen generators in a cargo compartment that resulted in fire, government investigations also identified the failure of both ValuJet and SabreTech (an airline maintenance company) to comply with numerous regulations as important factors. Dually tasked with the conflicting mandates of regulating the safety of the airline industry while simultaneously promoting it, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) refused to implement safeguards and guidelines that could have protected passengers in favor of the economic interests of the airline industry. By ignoring two specific recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to place smoke detectors in cargo holds (the exact area the fire started in ValuJet 592), as well as to reclassify cargo holds to prevent the spreading of fire to the rest of the plane, the FAA indirectly sets the stage for the crash to occur (Matthews and Kauzlarich 2000).

A Theory Of State-Corporate Crime

State-corporate crime has three useful characteristics as a sensitizing concept. First, it refutes the notion that organizational deviance is a discreet act by illuminating the relationships between social institutions. Second, by embracing the relational character of the state, the concept of state-corporate crime demonstrates how the horizontal interactions between political and economic institutions contain the potential for illegal and social injurious actions to occur (Wonders and Solop 1993). Finally, adopting a relational approach to the state not only allows for a consideration of horizontal interactions but of the vertical relationships between different levels of organizational action: political-economic, organizational, and interactional.

Corresponding to each level of social action are three theoretical approaches to the study of corporate crime: differential association theory, organizational theory, and political economy. Developed by Edwin Sutherland, differential association theory is a social psychological theory that seeks to establish the processes by which individuals learn deviant behavior. While differential association has been criticized for failing to consider the institutional context, the organizational perspective helps to link the external political-economic environment with the work-related thoughts and actions of individuals occupying structural positions in the social organization of work. Motivated by pressure to achieve organizational goals in a competitive setting, there exists an inherent inducement for the organization to participate in crime (Kramer 1982). The perspective of political economy demonstrates the implicit criminogenic potential of pressures for profit maximization within capitalist markets. By drawing attention to the structural relations between political and economic institutions, the political-economic perspective recognizes that many crimes of corporations and of governments are ultimately crimes of capital arising from the ownership or management of the accumulation process (Michalowski and Kramer 2006).

Independent of one another, each of these three theoretical approaches is inadequate to explain organizational deviance. In an effort to overcome these shortcomings, state-corporate crime scholars propose an integrated theoretical model of organizational crime that combines the three levels of analysis with three catalysts for action: motivation, opportunity, and control (Michalowski and Kramer 2006). The first catalyst for action concerns goal attainment. As the emphasis on goal attainment by political-economic institutions, organizations, and individuals increases, corporations and state agencies become more susceptible to engaging in organizational deviance. The second catalyst for action – opportunity – assumes that organizational deviance is more likely where legitimate means are scarce relative to goals. Finally, the third catalyst for action examines the presence or absence of social control at all three levels of analysis. Organizations subjected to a high operationality of social controls are more likely to cultivate organizational cultures that favor compliance with laws and regulations, and those organizations that are not subject to such controls are more likely to develop cultures of resistance. By investigating the linkages between levels of analysis and catalysts for action, a more nuanced understanding of state-corporate crime can potentially be developed.

Recent Research Trends

Beyond its early incarnations, the concept and theory of state-corporate crime has been increasingly used to understand diverse forms of organizational deviance engaged in by state and corporate actors. In addition to the early empirical and theoretical research on state-corporate crime, State-Corporate Crime: Wrongdoing at the Intersection of Business and Government (Michalowski and Kramer 2006) includes case studies on topics such as globalization, women and state-corporate crime, corporate facilitation during the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Ford Motor Company and the Bridgestone-Firestone tread separation case, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Enron era economics and economic democracy, violations of the treaty rights of indigenous peoples, the invasion of Iraq, as well as the role of Halliburton in Iraq. In addition to these early case studies, more recent research on state-corporate crime has emerged, particularly concerning international and environmental issues.

International Issues

A number of criminologists have paid increasing attention to the changing nature of state power in the global neoliberal economy and have begun to focus on the international arena. One theme among numerous recent case studies of state-corporate crime concerns the organizational deviance that has occurred due to the US invasion of Iraq. A second prominent theme is the relationship between private military firms and governments and the implications this has for state-corporate deviance. Moreover, other case studies on the state and corporate interactions surrounding international conflict over scarce natural resources, as well as the antecedents of the most recent global financial meltdown, have also been undertaken.

Kramer and Michalowski (2005) argue that the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq were illegal under international law and can therefore be classified as an instance of state crime. Laying the foundation for international relations is the United Nations (UN) charter, which at its core prohibits the use of aggressive force between nations with only two exceptions: self-defense and humanitarian interventions. Initially, the Bush administration sought to implicate Iraq in the September 11th terrorist attacks in an effort justify war as self-defense. After being forced to concede that there was in fact no connection between Iraq and 9/11, the Bush administration argued for preemptory war due to allegations that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, thereby constituting a direct threat requiring defensive military action. As a final strategy, the Bush administration attempted to convince the UN Security Council that it was necessary to go to war in order to protect Iraqi citizens from human rights abuses by Saddam Hussein. Despite all the efforts to legitimate war in Iraq, none met the legal requirements of international law and were unable to receive necessary approval from the UN Security Council. In the end, the March 2003 decision to go to war in Iraq was undertaken in clear violation of international law and paved the way for continued state-corporate crimes as a result (Kramer and Michalowski 2005).

Whyte (2007) explores how the overarching principle behind the US invasion and occupation of Iraq was the creation of a new rule of law based on the opening up of the economy to privatization by Western, and particularly US, corporations in breach of international law. Facilitating this transition, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was given the power to rebuild the Iraqi economy over a 14-month period. Guided by neoliberal economic principles, the CPA spent over $20 billion in Iraqi oil revenue to restructure the economy, much of which was disbursed to US corporations with scant oversight or documentation. Through 100 legally binding administrative orders and decrees, the CPA set the foundations of Iraq’s new economy, justice system, and political structure based on the idea of “trickle down” economics. The Development Fund of Iraq (DFI) provided the CPA with immediate money from Iraqi oil revenues to be dispersed for the humanitarian needs of the people. Since the DFI funds were disbursed in bundles of cash, CPA transactions did not leave a paper trail and contracts frequently went undocumented entirely. Moreover, the Bush administration in conjunction with the CPA took steps to thwart audits and investigations into the dispersal of funds. A US government appointed auditor has since established that an unknown sum of the DFI funds have disappeared as a result of bribery, overcharging, embezzlement, product substitution, bid rigging, and false claims. These forms of state-corporate corruption under the CPA have been essential in achieving neocolonial dominance in occupied Iraq (Whyte 2007).

In the course of the occupation and invasion of Iraq, privatized security has been deployed on a scale never before seen. Rather than abdicating its authority to private military firms (PMFs), Welch (2009) contends that governments work in direct cooperation with them, creating a situation of fragmented power. Although it has enjoyed close ties with the Bush administration, even recruiting former officials from the CIA and the Pentagon, Blackwater has received criticism for its lethal actions in Iraq. For example, in May 2007, Blackwater employees opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in 2 days, including a standoff with Iraqi security forces. Another incident, labeled “Baghdad’s Bloody Sunday,” occurred on September 16, 2005, when Blackwater guards shot and killed between 8 and 20 innocent civilians and wounded dozens of others in Nisour Square. A documented repeat offender, Blackwater has also been investigated for at least six other episodes of excessive force. Despite this pattern of criminality, the US government has not only neglected to prosecute Blackwater employees and other contractors but has extended immunity from wrongdoing altogether with respect to the reconstruction of the Iraqi economy. In this manner, the decoupling of police and government forces enables private contractors to escape accountability for war crimes and human right abuses (Welch 2009).

Part of a broader trend of privatizing military functions, private military companies (PMCs) today have become a legitimate industry involved in a wide range of activities including protecting governmental and nongovernmental organizations during humanitarian missions, in addition to protecting corporate interests such as the extraction of oil and mining. Whyte (2003) argues that the unfolding of the PMC market can be understood as transference of law from international prohibition treaties and national criminal law to civil contracts as the principal means of legal regulation. Far from a reduction of state sovereignty in the era of neoliberal globalization, private military markets are dependent on the consent and support of governments for their livelihood. Moreover, governments have also come to recognize the benefits to be gained by forging a state-corporate alliance in the private military market. Accepting the proliferation of PMCs as not only inevitable but also desirable, the United Kingdom has embraced a “soft-touch” regulatory mix that strengthens state-corporate military relations in a number of ways. First, such an approach enhances British industrial competitiveness in weapons manufacturing and other industries. Second, encouraging the growth of PMCs also allows governments to monitor and influence remote territories while remaining ostensibly neutral, thereby conducting foreign policy by proxy. Finally, the difficulty of prosecuting PMCs under international law and the reluctance of the UK government to support the UN convention on mercenaries create a law-accountability gap. By expanding the PMC market, the opportunity structure for state-corporate crime is increased as states and corporations are able to engage in high risk or politically sensitive conflicts while evading accountability for their actions. Absent any new criminal legal controls, state-corporate crime in the PMC market is only likely to accelerate (Whyte 2003).

Providing a revised theoretical framework of state-corporate criminality, Rothe and Ross (2010) analyze how anomie and social disorganization, resulting in a lack of regulation, are significant factors in explaining the criminal propensity of private military companies (PMCs). Private forces (such as Bechtel, Blackwater, CACI International, DynCorp, Halliburton and subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, and Root, Logo Logistics, and Titan) provide a wide range of services including direct tactical military assistance, military consulting (strategic advisory and training), and logistic, intelligence, and maintenance services to armed forces. Within each of these sectors, however, there are variations in the types of crimes committed including murder, fraud, and war profiteering. PMCs are not held to the same rules of engagement as the military and have an unclear legal status that is undefined by international law. Lacking internal and external constraints at every level, PMCs operate in anomic (lawless or normless) conditions that cultivate criminogenic behavior. Social disorganization occurs when communities are no longer able to create and enforce informal mechanisms of social control. As they operate in war ravaged areas, PMCs function in disorganized environments with uncertain mandates, high rates of employee turnover, and little social support. These factors converge to produce an environment in which regulation and social control breaks down and PMCs are free to engage in deviant behavior without consequence (Rothe and Ross 2010).

In the face of recent US actions that violate international law such as the war on terror, the war in Afghanistan, and the war in Iraq, a large segment of the citizenry nevertheless shows support for these policies. Part of the ideology of military aggression, Klein and Lavery (2011) argue, is perceived in-group victimization. A corporately owned political and cultural institution, the mainstream media functions as a tool by which politicians emphasize and validate the national experience of collective victimization. In an attempt to legitimate their illegal actions, elites and organizations use the media to amplify their claims of victimization and thereby neutralize criticism. At least in part, fear of being a terror victim seems to be related to the content of news media. Moreover, there also seems to be support for the notion that terrorism victimization in the media can contribute to public acceptance of state-corporate criminality (Klein and Lavery 2011).

Confronted with widespread political and economic violence for much of the past century, the experience of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) cannot solely be explained by internal factors experienced in the transition from colonial to postcolonial rule. Rather, Mullins and Rothe (2008) argue that neighboring states, transnational corporations, and international organizations all play a significant role in the continuing violence within the DRC. Seeking control of large concentrations of valuable mineral fields including gold, diamonds, silver, copper, and coltan, transnational corporations have been more than willing to negotiate access with warlords and militias controlling the hinterlands despite widespread human rights abuses. While demand from European markets is an important factor spurring participation by transnational corporations and their Western trading partners, states and international organizations also play a crucial role in facilitating the sale of illegally misappropriated resources. Capitalizing on the chaos surrounding the Second Congolese War in 1995 by enacting patterns of illegal resource appropriations particularly for gold and diamonds, Uganda acknowledged to the World Bank (WB) that production levels might reflect exports usurped from the DRC. The WB and the International Monetary Fund praised Uganda and Rwanda for their increases in production, despite the illegal means by which it was achieved. While it is largely recognized that there is no indigenous production of gold in Uganda, Metalor Technologies, a Swiss refinery, has been responsible for purchasing the Congolese gold from Ugandan sources. Although it had been demonstrated that over 100 companies from over a dozen countries are benefiting from illegal mineral exploitation, there has been reluctance on behalf of governments to intervene. The institutional structure of the larger international community therefore plays an important role in perpetuating the political and economic violence in countries engulfed by genocidal civil war such as the DRC (Mullins and Rothe 2008).

As an investigator for a 2002 Royal Commission examining fraud within the Dutch construction industry, Van Den Heuvel (2005) helped reveal that rather than an isolated incident of collusion, the entire sector had engaged in illegal practices including fraud, undercutting the market, unjustified subsidies, monopolization resulting in higher prices, and bribery of politicians and public servants. At the core, the Commission identified the industry-wide pandemic to be due to multiple forms of collusion or a secret agreement for a fraudulent purpose.

One form of collusion occurred between contractors themselves, such as illegal price fixing. A second type involved collusion between authorities and contractors, such as favoring particular contractors over others. Finally, a third type of collusion identified by the Commission occurred at the individual level in the bribing of public servants, for example, providing generous gifts and favors. The Commission concluded that these forms of collusion within the Dutch construction industry were so interconnected that they constituted a culture that placed contactors above the law and in control of authorities. Because of the pervasive collusion between contractors and authorities, it seems necessary to enact stricter rules governing state-corporate interorganizational relationships (Van Den Heuvel 2005).

Liederbach (2010) contends that while the state established the framework for the 2008 mortgage default crisis, corporate malfeasance was at its core. From the 1930s through the 1970s, there were stringent government regulations on mortgages which restricted lending practices such as issuing variable rate loans, capped interest rates, and prohibited partial monthly payments (known as negatively amortized mortgages). However, statutory changes and deregulation by Congress during the early 1980s removed these restrictions. Coasting on the economic success of the 1990s, an effort to increase national homeownership led by the US Department of Housing forced the government-sponsored entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to engage in riskier subprime mortgage markets since the targeted borrowers could not qualify for prime loans. Setting the conditions for the crisis to thrive, during the early 2000s, the Federal Reserve expanded the availability of credit by setting and maintaining surprisingly low interest rates and decreasing the amount of money banks were required to keep in reserve. All of these factors culminated in an economic meltdown that resulted in millions of home foreclosures and an unprecedented $750 billion taxpayer-funded bailout to rescue distressed financial institutions (Liederbach 2010).

Environmental Issues

Another emerging trend within the research on state-corporate crime is case studies examining the environmental harm resulting from organizational deviance. Of increasing significance are the state and corporate interactions contributing to the critical problem of global warming and climate change.

Smandych and Kueneman (2010) contend that Canadian officials and oil corporations are guilty of manipulating environmental regulations as well as the practice of “green-washing:” disinformation provided by an organization attempting to present an environmentally friendly public image, in this case surrounding the Alberta tar sands project. Criticized for its concentrations of toxic waste and a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, the aggressive state-corporate development of the Alberta tar sands project began in 1990s. Effectively surrendering sovereignty over the nation’s resources, the 1989 Canada-USA Free Trade agreement obliges Canada to share its oil and gas resources with the USA. The two means of extracting the oil from a mixture primarily comprised of sand are strip mining and underground “in situ” mining, both of which are environmentally disastrous leading to the devastation of pristine boreal forests, contamination of the Athabasca watershed, and depletion of natural resources. In this regard, the USA accrues the benefits while Canada suffers pollution of its land, air, and water. Working hand in hand with the oil industry, specifically US-based multinational oil corporations, the conservative governments of the Province of Alberta and the federal government of Canada have suppressed attempts to define the harm caused by the tar sands as criminal activity (Samandych and Kueneman 2010).

Lynch et al. (2011) applied the concept of state-corporate crime to global warming by examining the politicization of global warming under the G.W. Bush administration. Although industry leaders are often selected for governmental positions, appointing corporate leaders from the oil and mining industries to crucial environmental policy positions was a dominant trend in the Bush administration that strengthened state-corporate ties and deterred action on climate change. Despite the overwhelming consensus of climate change scientists, the Bush administration colluded with corporations in the fossil fuel industries in an effort to discredit and suppress science on the human causes of global warming. White House officials deliberately sought to undermine science on global warming in a number of ways including blocking publications, editing government reports, altering federal policy, and pressuring climate change scientists to delete references to global warming and climate change in government-sponsored research. Furthermore, the corporate strategy for undermining information on global warming was to fund and create front organizations to disseminate misinformation about climate change to the public. In this manner, the policies of the Bush administration privileged the interests of the fossil fuel industry over the interests of the public (Lynch et al. 2011).

Four forms of state-corporate crime shape the social and environmental harms caused by global warming. Kramer and Michalowski (2012) argue that state and corporate actors produce these harms by (1) denying that global warming is caused by the actions of humans (anthropogenic), (2) thwarting attempts to reduce greenhouse emissions, (3) excluding from the political arena ecologically just adaptations to climate change, and (4) responding to the social conflicts that arise as a result of climate change with militarism and violence. While anthropogenic global warming is the result of over 200 years of industrialization and fossil fuel consumption, it is possible to identify state-corporate relationships that caused knowable and predictable harm and that could have been avoided. Therefore, the failure of state institutions to mitigate or reduce carbon emissions in the private and public sectors should be understood as a state-corporate crime of omission. More than just a failure to act, however, the orchestrated denial of climate change despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary constitutes a state-corporate crime of commission. Designed to cast doubt on the evidence for anthropogenic global warming, the global warming denial counter-movement has been directed, organized, and funded by corporations and conservative think tanks. States and corporations have also refused to seriously consider socially just adaptation policies despite the increasing number of social conflicts resulting from climate change. This too, it is argued, constitutes a state-corporate crime of omission (Kramer and Michalowski 2012).


The study of political economy has been around for a long time, and the idea that corporations and states often act together in ways that have serious social consequences is not new. However, the concept and theory of state-corporate crime filled a gap in the evolving study of organizational crime within criminology. By examining social harms that result from the interaction of political and economic organizations, scholarship on state-corporate crime has made an important contribution to the field. The concept has generated a substantial body of research, and some argue, “the approach developed by statecorporate crime scholars is a significant advance toward developing a powerful integrated theoretical model” (Green and Ward 2004, p. 51). Judged by the growing number of criminologists who find the concept state-corporate crime useful in their work, research and theory in this area have the potential to make additional contributions to the study of organizational offending, particularly with regard to international and environmental crimes.


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