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Distributing Responsibility for Wrongdoing Inside Corporate Hierarchies: Public Judgments in Three Societies

  • Joseph Sanders, V. Lee Hamilton, Gennady Denisovsky, Naotaka Kato, Mikio Kawai, Polina Kozyreva, Takashi Kubo, Michael Matskovsky, Haruo Nishimura and Kazuhiko Tokoro...


The decision rules individuals use to judge wrongdoing committed inside corporations and other hierarchical organizations are not well understood. We explore this issue by asking random samples of individuals in Moscow, Tokyo, and Washington, D. C., to respond to four short vignettes describing acts of wrongdoing by people in corporations. The vignettes are experiments that manipulate the actor's mental state, the actor's position in the organization, and whether the actor's decision was influenced by others in the organization. We examine (1) the distribution of responsibility among people in the organization, (2) how individual responsibility affects the attribution of responsibility to the organization itself, and (3) cross-national differences in attributions. We find that both what the actors did (their deeds) and the position they occupied (their roles) significantly influence the responsibility attributed to them. The responsibility attributed to the organizations themselves is a function of the responsibility attributed to the actors inside the organization, but not a function of the independent variables in the experiments. Cross-national differences emerge with respect to the responsibility assigned both to individuals and to the organizations themselves. We discuss implications of these results for past and future work.



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1 Edwin Sutherland initially defined “white collar crime” as “a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation” Edwin H. Sutherland, White Collar Crime: The Uncut Version 9 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1983). The United States Department of Justice has offered the following definition: “Those crimes that are committed by non-physical means to avoid payment or loss of money or to obtain business or personal advantage where success depends upon guile or concealment.” Tony G. Poveda, Rethinking White-Collar Crime 134 (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1994). For our purposes, the most important subcategories or subtypes of white-collar crime are (1) crimes against organizations or society that occur because the person's occupation allowed their commission (e. g., bank embezzlement by tellers) and (2) crimes against consumers or society that occur because a person did their job within their organization (e. g., “corporate crimes”). Marshall B. Clinard & Richard Quinney, Criminal Behavior Systems: A Typology (New York: Free Press, 1973); Laura Shill Schrager & Short, James F. Jr., “Toward a Sociology of Organized Crime,” 25 Soc. Prob. 407 (1978). In this article we are interested almost exclusively in the latter category of white-collar crimes, those committed by organizational actors for the organization.

2 Marshall B. Clinard & Peter C. Yeager, Corporate Crime 281 (New York: Free Press, 1980) (“Clinard & Yeager, Corporate Crime”).

3 Herbert Kelman & V. Lee Hamilton, Crimes of Obedience: Toward a Social Psychology of Authority and Responsibility (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1989) (“Kelman & Hamilton, Crimes of Obedience”); Barry Mitnick, “The Theory of Agency and Organizational Analysis,”in Norman Bowie & Edward Freeman, eds., Ethics and Agency Theory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992); J. Pratt & R. Zeckhauser, eds., Principals and Agents: The Structure of Business (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1985).

4 As Coffee notes, fines large enough to deter may be so large that they put the organization's viability at risk. Coffee, John C., “No Soul to Damn: No Body to Kick: An Unscandalized Inquiry into the Problem of Corporate Punishment,” 79 Mich. L. Rev. 386, 389 (1981). Even in the case of egregious behavior, it rarely seems to be wise to force the dissolution of the company, with disastrous consequences on employees and others; see Richard B. Sobol, Bending the Law: The Story of the Dalkon Shield Bankruptcy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991). Most people argue for a mixed response to corporate crime, holding both the organization and its agents responsible. Coffee, 79 Mich. L. Rev.; Christopher Stone, Where the Law Ends: The Social Control of Corporate Behavior (New York: Harper & Row, 1975) (“Stone, Where the Law Ends”); id., ”The Place of Enterprise Liability in the Control of Corporate Conduct,” 90 Yale L. J. 1 (1980).

5 Coffee, John C., “Corporate Crime and Punishment: A Non-Chicago View of the Economics of Criminal Sanctions,” 17 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 419 (1980); Donald R. Cressey, “The Poverty of Theory in Corporate Crime Research,”in W. S. Laufer & F. Adler, eds., Advances in Criminological Theory, vol. 1 (New Brunswick, N. J.: Transaction Books, 1989); Brent Fisse & John Braithwaite, Corporations, Crime and Accountability (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993) (“Fisse & Braithwaite, Corporations, Crime”); Peter A. French, Collective and Corporate Responsibility (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984) (“French, Collective/Corporate Responsibility”); Steven Walt & William S. Laufer, “Corporate Criminal Liability and the Comparative Mix of Sanctions,”in Kip Schlegel & David Weisburd, eds., White Collar Crime Reconsidered (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1992).

6 Other writers have used different terminology to indicate the nature of Japanese capitalism, such as “welfare corporatism”: Ronald P. Dore, British Factory-Japanese Factory: The Origins of National Diversity in Industrial Relations (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973) (“Dore, British Factory”); James Lincoln & Arne Kalleberg, Culture, Control and Commitment: A Study of Work Organization and Work Attitudes in the United States and Japan (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990) (“Lincoln & Kalleberg, Culture, Control and Commitment”) and “alliance capitalism” (Michael L. Gerlach, Alliance Capitalism: The Social Organization of Japanese Business (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992) (“Gerlach, Alliance Capitalism”).

7 Ideally, our research would have involved national surveys of these three societies. Cost considerations, however, prohibited this approach.

8 As we use the term in this article, culture involves ideas about the nature of persons (and of organizations) and their proper place in the social order. V. Lee Hamilton & Joseph Sanders, Everyday Justice: Responsibility and the Individual in Japan and the United States 46 New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1992) (“Hamilton & Sanders, Everyday Justice”); Richard Shweder, Thinking through Cultures: Expeditions in Cultural Psychology (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991).

9 Herbert Jacob, Erhard Blankenburg, Herbert Kritzer, Doris Marie Provine, & Joseph Sanders, Courts, Law, and Politics in Comparative Perspective (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1996); Hamilton & Sanders, Everyday Justice; Robert J. Smith, Japanese Society: Tradition, Self and the Social Order (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983) (“Smith, Japanese Society”); Frank Upham, Law and Social Change in Postwar Japan (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987).

10 Chie Nakane, Japanese Society (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970) (“Nakane, Japanese Society”); John O. Haley, Authority without Power: Law and the Japanese Paradox (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).

11 Hamilton, & Sanders, , Everyday Justice 134.

12 Michael Thompson, Richard Ellis, & Aaron Wildavsky, Cultural Theory 88 (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1990) (“Thompson et al., Cultural Theory”).

13 Markovits, Inga, “Pursuing One's Rights under Socialism,” 38 Stan. L. Rev. 689 (1986); Joseph S. Berliner, Factory and Manager in the USSR (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957); id., Soviet Industry from Stalin to Gorbachev: Studies in Management and Technological Progress (Ithaca, N. Y.: Cornell University Press, 1988).

14 Christine Sypnowich, The Concept of Socialist Law (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990) (“Sypnowich, Socialist Law”).

15 Burawoy, Michael & Hendley, Kathryn, “Between Perestroika and Privatization: Divided Strategies and Political Crisis in a Soviet Enterprise,” 44 Soviet Stud. 371 (1992); John S. Earle, Roman Frydman, & Andrzej Rapaczynski, Privatization in the Transition to a Market Economy (New York St. Martin's Press, 1993).

16 Jankiewicz, Sara, “Comment: Glastnost and the Growth of Global Organized Crime,” 18 Houston J. Int'l L. 215 (1995); Stephen Handelman, Comrade Criminal: Russia's New Mafiya (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1995); Hendley, Kathryn, “The Spillover Effects of Privatization on Russian Legal Culture,” 5 Transnat'l L. & Contemp. Prob. 39 (1995).

17 Hamilton & Sanders, Everyday Justice; Kelly Shaver, The Attribution of Blame: Causality, Responsibility and Blameworthiness (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1985) (“Shaver, Attribution of Blame”); Herbert Packer, The Limits of the Criminal Sanction (Palo Alto, Cal.: Stanford University Press, 1968) (“Packer, Limits”).

18 Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgement of the Child (New York: Free Press, 1965).

19 Shaver, Attribution of Blame.

20 Walster, Elaine, “Assignment of Responsibility for an Accident,” 3 J. Personality & Soc. Psychol. 73 (1966).

21 Richard Lempert & Joseph Sanders, An Invitation to Law and Social Science (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986) (“Lempert & Sanders, Invitation”); Lee Hamilton, V., “Who Is Responsible? Toward a Social Psychology of Responsibility Attribution,” 41 Soc. Psychol. 316 (1978); Packer, Limits.

22 Lee Hamilton, V. & Sanders, Joseph, “Effects of Roles and Deeds on Responsibility Judgments: The Normative Structure of Wrongdoing,” 44 Soc. Psychol. Q. 237 (1981).

23 H. L. A. Hart, Punishment and Responsibility (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968).

24 James S. Coleman, The Foundations of Social Theory (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990) (“Coleman, Foundations”).

25 V. Lee Hamilton & Joseph Sanders, “Responsibility and Risk in Organizational Crimes of Obedience,”in B. M. Staw & L. L. Cummings, eds., 14 Research in Organizational Behavior 49–90 (Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1992) (“Hamilton & Sanders, ‘Responsibility & Risk”).

26 P. E. Tetlock, “Accountability,”in L. L. Cummings & B. M. Staw, eds., 7 Research in Organizational Behavior 326 (Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1985).

27 Hamilton & Sanders, Everyday Justice (cited in note 8); Lee Hamilton, V., “Chains of Command: Responsibility Attribution in Hierarchies,” 16 J. Applied Soc. Psychol. 118 (1986).

28 Kelman & Hamilton, Crimes of Obedience (cited in note 3).

29 Hamilton & Sanders, Everyday Justice 126–27.

30 Hans, Valerie, “Attitudes toward Corporate Responsibility: A Psychological Perspective,” 69 Neb. L. Rev. 158 (1990).

31 Clinard & Yeager, Corporate Crime (cited in note 2).

32 Hamilton & Sanders, “Responsibility & Risk.”

33 Kelman & Hamilton, Crimes of Obedience (cited in note 3); Diane Vaughan, Controlling Unlawful Organizational Behavior (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983); id., “The Macro-Micro Connection in White-Collar Crime Theory,”in Kip Schlegel & David Weisburd, eds., White Collar Crime Reconsidered (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1992); Hans, Valerie & Lofquist, William, “Jurors' Judgments of Business Liability in Tort Cases: Implications for the Litigation Explosion,” 26 Law & Soc'y Rev. 85 (1992).

In such situations the legal system may settle for some middle-level manager who cannot fully avail himself of the excuse of ignorance or obedience. Sometimes, the logic of responsibility inside organizations produces the proverbial “vice president in charge of going to jail.” Brent Fisse & John Braithwaite, Corporations, Crime and Accountability (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993).

34 Lee Hamilton, V. & Sanders, Joseph, “Crimes of Obedience and Conformity in the Workplace: Surveys of Americans, Russians and Japanese,” 51 J. Soc. Issues 67 (1995).

Following Lempert & Sanders, Invitation 26 (cited in note 21), we use the word “excuse” as a generic term to describe an “explanation and definition of a situation that absolves or mitigates the offerer's responsibility for an untoward event.” Such explanations are sometimes called “accounts.” See Scott, Marvin & Lyman, Stanford, “Accounts,” 33 Am. Soc. Rev. 4662 (1968); Blum, Alan & McHugh, Peter, “Social Ascription of Motives,” 36 Am. Soc. Rev. 98 (1971). Excuses differ from justifications, which occur when actors admit their involvement in an event and their responsibility, but deny that they have done anything wrong. “Selfdefense” is a justification in this sense. A plea of insanity, on the other hand, is an excuse.

35 James William Coleman, The Criminal Elite: The Sociology of White Collar Crime 217 (New York: St. Martins Press, 1989) (“Coleman, Criminal Elite”).

36 Kip Schlegel, Just Deserts for Corporate Criminals 79 (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1990) (Schlegel, Just Deserts”).

37 Coleman, Foundations (cited in note 24).

38 George Herbert Mead, Mind, Self, and Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1934).

39 Coleman, Foundations 507–8.

40 French, Collective/Corporate Responsibility (cited in note 5); Schlegel, Just Deserts.

41 Fisse & Braithwaite, Corporations, Crime 17 (cited in note 5).

42 Id. at 123.

43 See Cressey, Donald R., “The Poverty of Theory in Corporate Criminal Research,” 1 Advances in Crim. Theory 31 (1988); Velasquez, Manuel, “Why Corporations Are Not Morally Responsible for Anything They Do,” 2 Bus. & Professional Ethics J. 1 (1983).

44 Fisse & Braithwaite, Corporations, Crime.

45 This is similar to the rule in the American tort law system, which holds employers responsible upon proof of negligent behavior of an employee acting within the scope of his or her employment.

46 See Coleman, Foundations 577.

47 Robert E. Cole, Japanese Blue Collar: The Changing Tradition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971); id., Work, Mobility, and Participation: A Comparative Study of American and Japanese Industry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979).

48 Paul DiMaggio, “Nadel's Paradox Revisited: Relational and Cultural Aspects of Organizational Structure,” in N. Nohria & R. G. Eccles, eds., Networks and Organizations: Structure, Form, and Action 119 (Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press, 1992) (“Nohria & Eccles, Networks”).

49 Michael L. Gerlach & James R. Lincoln, “The Organization of Business Networks in the United States and Japan,” in Nohria & Eccles, Networks; Lincoln & Kalleberg, Culture, Control and Commitment (cited in note 6).

50 Ross Mouer & Yoshio Sugimoto, Images of Japanese Society: A Study of the Structure of Social Reality (London: KPI, 1986).

51 Hamilton & Sanders, Eveyday Justice (cited in note 8).

52 Lee Hamilton, V. & Sanders, Joseph, “Corporate Crime through Citizens' Eyes: Stratification and Responsibility in the United States, Russia, and Japan,” 30 Law & Soc'y Rev. 513 (1996).

53 Hui, C. H. & Triandis, H. C., “Individualism-Collectivism: A Study of Cross-cultural Researchers,” 17 J. Cross-Cultural Psychol. 225 (1986); Miller, J. G., “Culture and the Development of Everyday Social Explanation,” 46 J. Personality & Soc. Psychol. 961 (1984); R. Shweder & E. J. Bourne, “Does the Concept of the Person Vary Cross-culturally?”in Anthony J. Marsella & Geoffrey M. White, Cultural Conceptions of Mental Health and Therapy (Boston: Reidel, 1982); Triandis, Harry, “The Self and Social Behavior in Differing Cultural Contexts,” 98 Psychol. Rev. 506 (1989); id., Individualism and Collectivism (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1995).

54 Louis Dumont, Homo Hierarchicus: The Caste System and Its Implications (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980); Nakane, Japanese Society (cited in note 10).

55 Smith, Japanese Society 65 (cited in note 9). We should be careful not to overstate the difference. As Atsumi points out, it would be a misconception to think that tsukiai makes co-workers into close friends; theirs is still an employment relationship. Atsumi, Reiko, “Tsukiai-Obligatory Personal Relationships of Japanese White-Collar Company Employees,” 38 Hum. Organization 63 (1979). Feeling like family is not necessarily the same thing as being family. The point is that many Japanese employees are embedded in a relationship that is more complex and more enduring than that of their American counterparts.

56 Lincoln, & Kalleberg, , Culture, Control and Commitment 114.

57 Dore, British Factory (cited in note 6); Taishiro Shirai, “A Theory of Enterprise Unionism,”in Shirai, ed., Contemporary Industrial Relations in Japan (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983) (“Shirai, ‘Theory”’).

58 Tadashi Fukutake, The Japanese Social Structure: Its Evolution in the Modern Century, trans. R. Dore, 25 (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1982).

59 Richard Wokutch, Worker Protection, Japanese Style 39–40 (Ithaca, N. Y.: ILR Press, 1992).

60 Lincoln, J. R. & McBride, K., “Japanese Industrial Organization in Comparative Perspective,” 13 Ann. Rev. Soc. 289, 297 (1987).

61 Kazuo Sugeno, Japanese Labor Law, trans. Leo Kanowitz (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1992).

In the United States, on the other hand, most unions are either craft unions (e. g., the carpenters' union) or industrial unions, unions that organize workers in an entire industry (e. g., the United Mine Workers). Some industrial unions in the United States have branched out to become general unions that organize workers without regard to their occupation, industry, or enterprise (e. g., the Teamsters).

62 Shirai, “Theory” at 139.

63 Nakane, Japanese Society (cited in note 10).

64 Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, Rice as Self: Japanese Identities through Time 100 (Priceton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1993).

65 Hamilton & Sanders, Everyday Justice 52 (cited in note 8). Individualism is a complicated idea. Luke describes four dimensions of individualism: (1) accepting the intrinsic moral worth of individuals, (2) advocating the autonomy of individual thought and action, (3) acknowledging the importance of individual privacy, and (4) supporting self-development as a desitable goal. Steven Lukes, Individualism (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1973). Japanese conceptions of the social actor in fact are quite individualistic on some of these dimensions, espcially moral worth and self-development. Japanese attention to selfdevelopment and belief in meritocracy predates Western influence. Ronald P. Dore, “Mobility, Equality, and Individualism in Modem Japan, in R. P. Dore, ed., Aspects of Social Change In Modem Japan (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1967). Ikegami has recently coined the phrase “honorific individualism” in his book tracing the historical development of these aspects of individualism in Japan. He and others note that absent these components of individualism it would be difficult to explain Japan's rapid change from a feudal to an advanced capitalist society. Eiko Ikegami, The Taming of the Samurai; Honorific Individualism and the Making of Modern Japan 350 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995).

For discussions of the “individual actor” orientation in the United States, see Frank Johnson, “The Western Concept of Self,” in A. J. Marsella, G. DeVos & F. L. K. Hsu, eds., Culture and Self: Asian and Western Perspectives (New York: Tavistock, 1985) (“Marsella et al., Culture and Self'); Macneil, Ian, “Bureaucracy, Liberalism, and Community-American Style,” 79 Nw. U. L. Rev. 900 (1985); Michael Sandel, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982). For discussions of the “contextual actor” orientation in Japan see Azuma, Hiroshi, “Secondary Control as a Heterogeneous Category,” 39 Am. Psychol. 97 (1984); George DeVos, “Dimensions of the Self in Japanese Culture,” in A. J. Marsella et al., Culture and Self; Hamaguchi, Esyun, “A Contextual Model of the Japanese: Toward a Methodological Innovation in Japanese Studies,” 11 J. Japanese Stud. 289 (1985); Smith, Japanese Society (cited in note 9); Weisz, John R., Rothbaum, Fred M., & Blackbum, Thomas C., “Standing Out and Standing In: The Psychology of Control in America and Japan,” 39 Am. Psychol. 955 (1984).

66 Takao Suzuki, Japanese and the Japanese: Words in Culture 135 (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1978).

67 Hamilton & Sanders, Everyday Justice 59.

There is an asymmetry between relationships of low and high solidarity in terms of their likelihood of involving inequality. In societies where relationships are characteristically low in solidarity, the actor is typically thought of and referred to as an equal individual (Hamilton, & Sanders, , Everyday Justice 58).

68 Morris, Michael & Peng, Kaiping, “Culture and Causation: American and Chinese Attributions for Social and Physical Events,” 67 J. Personality & Soc. Psychol. 949 (1994).

69 Hamilton, & Sanders, , Everyday Justice 60.

These conceptions of the self parallel the cultural framework developed by Mary Douglas and Aaron Wildavsky (Mary Douglas, Risk And Blam: Essays in Cultural Theory (London: Routledge, 1992); id., “The Person in an Enterprise Culture,” in S. Heap & A. Ross, eds., Understanding the Enterprise Culture (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1992) (“Heap & Ross, Enterprise Culture”); Mary Douglas & Aaron Wildavsky, Risk and Culture: An Essay on the Selection of Technical and Environmtal Dangers (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982); Thompson et al., Cultural Theory (cited in note 12). This work describes four idealtypical political cultures: fatalism, individualism, hierarchical collectivism, and egalitarianism 1978). (Polisar, Daniel & Wildavsky, Aaron, “From Individual to System Blame: A Cultural Analysis of Historical Change in the Law of Torts,” 1 J. Pol'y Hist. 129 (1989); Michael Thompson, “The Dynamics of Cultural Theory and Their Implications for the Enterprise Culture,”in Heap & Ross, Enterprise Culture). As Kagan notes, each cultural perspective may employ differing attributions of responsibility for harm. Robert Kagan, “Responsibility, Accountability, and Adversarial Legalism” at 12 (presented at Law & Society Association annual meeting, Toronto, 1995).

Fatalism and individualism define a cultural dichotomy concerning individual actors. Together, they describe an “individualistic” dimension. Fatalism tends to blame no one for misfortune, sometimes because of a belief that individuals lack the ability to control events. Individualism holds individuals responsible for their acts of intentional wrongdoing and lack of due care. The egalitarian-hierarchical dimension defines opposite orientations to communal/collectivist forces. A hierarchical culture respects and gives deference to expertise and authority. “[P]eople in authority are presumed to know what they are doing and to have acted reasonably unless proven otherwise” (Polisar, & Wildavsky, , 1 J. Pol'y Hist. at 149). Egalitarian cultures are more distrustful of hierarchies and the power structures they generate. Hierarchical cultures are more deferential to excuses based on following the directive of a superior.

70 We must emphasize that this discussion concerns general cultural values, and not an assessment of the existing social structure or the actual pressures to conform experienced by individuals in organizations. An individualistic perspective on the self in the United States does not mean individuals are unconstrained in their actions, only that they will tend to be judged as if they were.

71 This is a different issue than whether the Japanese are less likely to suspect corporate malfeasance when untoward events occur. By most accounts, hierarchical political cultures create a presumption of correct behavior, whereas egalitarian cultures are quicker to assume untoward outcomes are the result of wrongful behavior. Polisar, & Wildavsky, , 1 J. Pol'y Hist. at 148; Sheila Jasanoff, “Acceptable Evidence in a Pluralistic Society,”in Deborah Mayo & Rachelle Hollander, eds., Acceptable Evidence: Science and Values in Risk Management (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).

72 Daniel Okimoto, Between MITI and the Market: Japanese Industrial Policy for High Technology (Palo Alto, Cal.: Stanford University Press, 1989); Kenichi Miyashita & David W. Russell, “Keiretsu”: Inside the Hidden Japanese Conglomerates (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994); Gilson, Ronald J. & Roe, Mark J., “Understanding the Japanese Keiretsu: Overlaps between Corporate Governance and Industrial Organization,” 102 Yale L. J. 871 (1993).

73 See sources cited in note 13.

74 Sindler, Riley M., “Protections for Mobilizing Improvements in the Workplace: United States and Russia,” 9 Am. U. J. Int'l L. & Pol'y 309 (1993); William Moskoff, Hard Times: Impoverishment and Protest in the Perestroika Years 184 (Armonk, N. Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 1993) (“Moskoff, Hard Times”).

75 Sypnowich, Socialist Law (cited in note 14).

76 Aaron Wildavsky, “The Soviet System,”in A. Wildavsky, ed., Beyond Containment: Altermative American Policies toward the Soviet Union (San Francisco: ICS Press, 1983).

(Wildavsky, 1983; Thompson, et al., Cultural Theroy 263 (cited in note 12).

77 Nicolai N. Petro, The Rebirth of Russian Democracy: An Interpretation of Political Culture (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995).

78 Some recent scholarship has argued that the industrial ministries were dominant political players in Soviet politics and conflicts between the ministries and national politicians were an important source of the political and economic crises leading up to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Stephen Whitefield, Industrial Power and the Soviet State (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993).

79 Id. at 42.

80 Hendley, 5 Transat'l L. & Contemp. Prob. 43 (cited in note 16).

81 Id. at 52.

82 Joseph S. Berliner, The Innovation Decision in Soviet Industry 162–63 (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1976). Paradoxically from a capitalist perspective, the relative inability to release workers was accompanied by a general hoarding of labor by enterprises. Because enterprises were not penalized for high production costs hoarded labor posed few real costs. However, the excess workers could prove useful for purposes of “storming,” the practice of increasing production to meet gross output targets at the end of the month. Philip J. Bryson, The Reluctant Retreat: The Soviet and East German Departure from Central Planing 13 (Brookfield, Vt.: Dartmouth, 1995). The effect of hoarding and the difficulty of discharging unnecessary or unproductive workers led to considerable underemplovent. In 1991 the labor minister estimated that nationwide the labor surplus was in the neighborhood of 28 million people. Moskoff, Hard Times 162.

83 Moskoff, Hard Times (cited in note 74).

84 The survey was conducted by the Survey Research Center at the University of Maryland.

85 The Japanese group was lead by Professor Kazuhiko Tokoro from Rikkyo University and included Naotaka Kato, Mikio Kawai, Takashi Kubo, Kubo, and Haruo Nishimura. We had worked with Professors Nishimura and Tokora on earlier collaborations. The Russian colleagues included Gennady Denisovsky, Polina Kozyreva, and Michael Matskovsky, all from the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, whom we had also worked with on an earlier collaboration.

86 The advantage of vignette experiments is the relative clarity of causal inferences. A disadvantage is that judgments with respect to any specific vignette may be partly the result of idiosyncratic factors embedded in the story rather than general underlying decision rules. Oneway to address this problem is to ask multiple vignettes on basically similar issues. We have adopted that strategy in this study. For general discussions of using vignettes inside surveys, see Peter H. Rossi & Steven L. Nock, eds., Measuring Social Judgments: The Factorial Survey Approach (Beverly Hills, Cal.: Sage Publications, 1982).

87 In the language of the white-collar crime literature, each of these stories focuses on “organizational crime” as compared to “occupational crime,” e. g., employee theft (Coleman, Criminal Elite (cited in note 35)).

88 The full text of all versions of all vignettes are available from the authors on request.

89 Stone, Where the Law Ends (cited in note 4).

90 The Failure to Publicize story involves a secondary rather than primary harm. The newspaper organization is not the creator of the toxic waste. However, wrongdoing by the media (information transmission organizations) would characteristically involve this sort of secondary injury (Failure to Publicize and prevent harm). We anticipated that the average responsibility of the actor in this vignette might be lower for this reason, but we expected thatall three variables (type of influence, hierarchy, and mental state) would exert some effect across all vignettes.

91 Kelman & Hamilton, Crimes of Obedience (cited in note 3).

92 The first of these questions was used to assess whether vignettes were comparable in severity; the second was a manipulation check for influence type; the third was a manipulation check for the actor's mental state.

93 As in other situations of multiple wrongdoers, it is possible that each person will be adjudged fully responsible for what happened. In this sense, there can be more than 100% responsibility for an untoward act.

94 Shaver, Attribution of Blame (cited in note 17); Hamilton & Sanders, Everyday Justice 111 (cited in note 8).

95 Hamilton & Sanders, Everyday Justice 114.

96 Id. at 111.

97 In addition, we believed that the general nature of the instructions given in the authority/obedience conditions would offer the actor a weaker excuse of just following orders.

98 The F-statistics presented in tables 1–4 are from ANOVA analyses that includes the three experimental variables and nation (Japan, Russia, United States). We have included nation in these analyses because, as we shall see below, this variable has a substantial effect on many responsibility judgments. Excluding nation from the analyses slightly alters the F-statistics. No effects that are not significant with nation in the models become significant when it is excluded. Two effects that are significant with nation included fail to reach significance when it is excluded: the mental state-influence interaction effect on co-worker responsibility in the Factory Waste vignette (table 2) and the influence effect on company responsibility in the Dangerous Drug vignette (table 4). In addition, the effect of hierarchy on boss responsibility in the Faulty Design vignette is significant at 0.05, not 0.01 (table 3).

We have presented F-statistics in this and subsequent tables for the sake of parsimony. Some readers, however, may gain a better feel for the data by knowing how these values translate into differences in means. The means (on a 100-point scale) for actor responsibility in the Factory Waste story are as follows: mental state: low = 78, high = 85; hierarchy: subordinate = 77, authority = 86; influence: obedience = 74, conformity = 80; autonomy = 89. The smallest significant difference reported in this table, the F of 6.7 for the mental state effect in the Faulty Design vignette, represents a mean difference of four points (low = 61, high = 65).

99 The “superior” boss in the Failure to Publicize story was held more responsible than the “subordinate” boss.

100 There were two significant mental state/influence interactions, in the Factory Waste and Dangerous Drug vignettes, but neither supported our hypothesis. In the Factory Waste case, there was a mental state effect in the conformity condition, but not in the obedience condition. In the Dangerous Drug vignette, the interaction was also partly due to a mental state effect in the conformity condition and partly due to the fact that in the autonomy condition the boss was held less responsible in the high mental state condition than in the low mental state condition. Both of these results can be explained in a post hoc fashion, but they clearly do not support our hypothesis.

101 See Jacob Cohen & Patricia Cohen, Applied Multiple Regression/Correlation Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences 198–217 (2d ed. Hillsdale, N. J.: Erlbaum, 1983).

102 Id. at 83–198.

103 One effect is significant at 0.05 but not at 0.01. In the Dangerous Drug vignette, there is a negative effect of mental state on company responsibility.

104 Actor responsibility and company responsibility are significantly correlated (.01) in the Faulty Design, Dangerous Drug, and Failure to Publicize vignettes.

105 Here and elsewhere in this report we have given a substantive interpretation to cross-national differences in means. One must be very cautious when doing this. The problem is one of establishing equivalence (Adam Przeworski & Henry Teune, The Logic of Comparative Social Inquiry 113–30 (Malabar, Fla.: Krieger Publishing. Co., 1982) (“Przeworski & Teune, Logic”); Nihar R. Mrinal, Uma Singhal Mrinal, & Harold Takooshian, “Research Methods for Studies in the Field,”in Leonore Loeb Adler & Uwe P. Gielen, eds., Cross Cultural Topics in Psychology 25–40 (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1994). Observed differences might simply be due to factors such as national differences in the way the scales are understood or subtle differences in translations.

As Przeworski and Teune, Logic 119, note, the problem of equivalence is not unique to cross-cultural work. With respect to many questions, “establishing equivalence of measurement… is probably no more problematic for a study of Russians and Americans than for one of American whites and blacks.”

Several considerations cause us to be willing to give a substantive interpretation to the differences in corporate responsibility scores. First, of course, these scores are responses to a known stimulus: the vignettes. We and our collaborators invested considerable effort to ensure as much as possible that the vignettes would be understood similarly in each society. Second, as we discuss below in the text, we do not observe an overall pattern of lower means for Russian respondents on other responsibility variables. All responsibility variables (e. g., actor responsibility, co-worker responsibility, boss responsibility, corporate responsibility) shared the same basic structure and used the same 0–100 scale. If the Russian questions were subtly different in their meaning, or if Russians used the scale in a different way, we should have observed this in all the questions.

Third, we asked respondents in all countries to rate the seriousness of the consequences of what happened on a 0–100 scale. We were concerned that Russian respondents might view the pollution vignettes as involving less serious outcomes than would American respondents. Differences in attributions of responsibility might, therefore, be due to differences in perceived seriousness. We found, however, that on average Russian respondents assigned “seriousness” scores similar to respondents in the other two countries. Below are the means for each country for each story.

Of course, one could argue that the response to all these scales may be affected by the different ways they are used across societies. However, the existence of multiple common indicators replicated in each of the three cities allows us to look for differences in patterns of responses or patterns of relationships among more than one variable. Hamilton & Sanders, Everyday Justice 120; Przeworski & Teune, Logic. Ultimately, the issue is whether a set of hypotheses are confirmed in a way that makes nonsubstantive explanations (e. g., problems with translations) implausible.

106 Gerlach, Alliance Capitalism (cited in note 6).

107 Valerie Hans, “Lay Judgments of Corporate Defendants” (presented at Law & Society Association annual meeting, Phoenix, Ariz., June 1994).

108 Hamilton & Sanders, Everyday Justice (cited in note 8).

109 Kelman & Hamilton, Crimes of Obedience (cited in note 3).

110 Clinard & Yeager, Corporate Crime 281 (cited in note 2).

111 Fisse & Braithwaite, Corporations, Crime 123 (cited in note 5).

112 Id. at 96; Hamilton & Sanders, “Responsibility & Risk” (cited in note 25).

113 Fisse & Braithwaite, Corporations, Crime 113.

114 Schlegel, Just Deserts 86 (cited in note 36).

115 The correlation between outcome seriousness and corporate actor responsibility ranges from 0.05 to 0.005 in our four stories. Outcome seriousness alone explains almost none of the variance in the corporate responsibility measure.

116 In this regard the Failure to Publicize story is intriguing. We intended to manipulate the boss's influence the same way in all four stories: in the authority version the orders were less specific. However, in this story the boss in the authority versions of the vignette was held more responsible than the boss in the subordinate versions. Differences in the way we manipulated the boss's influence in the various stories do not appear to account for this difference in attributions. In the subordinate versions the respondents were told, “Jim talks the problem over with his editor, and the editor tells him not to write a story about the waste because it might cause the factory to close and hurt the town's economy.” In the authority versions they were told, “The Editor-in-Chief has told Jim that he should not publish stories that might hurt the economy of the town.”

In a future report we plan to explore the possibility that the nature of the organization, whether it is professional or bureaucratic, may have helped to produce this result (Fisse & Braithwaite, Corporations, Crime 105–6; Blau, Peter, “The Hierarchy of Authority in Organizations,” 73 Am. J. Soc. 453 (1968).

117 Coleman, Foundations (cited in note 24).

118 French, Collective/Corporate Responsibility (cited in note 5).

119 T. Murase, “‘Sunao’: A Central Value in Japanese Psychotherapy,”in A. J. Marsella & G. M. White, eds., Cultural Conceptions of Mental Health and Therapy (Dordrecht, The Netherlands: D. Reidel, 1982).

120 Fisse & Braithwaite, Corporations, Crime 123 (cited in note 5).

This is a revised version of a paper presented at the 1995 Annual Meeting of the Research Committee on Sociology of Law, International Sociological Association, Tokyo, Japan. The research was supported by National Science Foundation grants SES-9113914 and SES-913967. We wish to thank Ralph Kuhn and Toshiyuki Yuasa for their valuable research assistance.

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Law & Social Inquiry
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