The concept “white-collar crime” was introduced in late 1930s, when sociologists thought that crime is associated with poverty and only poor urban commits the crimes. That was the time when Edwin H. Sutherland (1930), an American sociologist comes with theory of crime. According to him criminal acts are not associated with the poverty, but the people of upper elite class commit more harmful acts due to their social respectability and gain more benefits for their social & business purposes.
White-collar crime is committed by non-physical mean for concealment of money & property or to avoid losses in money & property or to gain personal advantages (Bookman 2008). This means, The use of deception for illegal gain, normally involving breach of trust and some concealment of true nature of the activities. Edward Ross proposed the concept of “The criminaloid” back in 1900’s, he stated that these individuals are powerful people, whom actions are detrimental but not recognized and perceived as harmful as of that conventional crimes. White-collar crimes are generally committed by highly social personalities during their course of occupation. These crimes are non-violent, financially motivated & committed by “business and government professionals”.
The annual losses due to white-collar crime exceeds than street crime. Federal Board of Investigation (FBI report, 2007) states that, in 2006 estimated annual losses due to robbery & theft was about $17.6 billion. While, white-collar criminals committed loss of $300 billion annually, seventeen times of street crime loss.
The Transparency International (TI) ranked the Pakistan as 118th corrupt nation (country ranked 1st is least corrupt & 180th most corrupt) among the 180 countries of the world in 2018. According to Pakistan economist, Dr. Farrukh Saleem (The News, Karachi), the government of Pakistan buys goods and services worth Rs7.5 trillion every year out of which around 50 percent of the total goods & services are siphoned off by white-collar criminals.
As for as education sector is concerned, it was ranked the fourth most corrupt sector of Pakisan in 2010 by transparency International Pakistan during its survey of “National Corruption Perception”. While, “National Education Policy” of Pakistan highlighted corrupt practices such as diversion of allocated educational funds for personal benefits, influence of politician, non-merit based priorities in funds allocation to various educational institutes, political based recruitment & posting culture and corrupt examination & assessment system. These criminals are challenge for communication climate within the sector & thus protected from being reported by others who aware of the crime, especially subordinates staff who afraid of personal consequences. Therefore, the study is being undertaken to read the responses of auditors in education sector on emergence of white-collar crime and also focus on the challenges to communication climate of education sector.
Problem & Rationale
Corruption based the discrimination among individuals & groups because money is used for personal benefits rather than national interest. The uncontrolled flow of money suffered the public & private sector’s financing institutions as well. Resultantly, economic output falls down and rate of inflation rises. And money is no longer available to meet the basic needs & necessary expenditures of society i.e education, food, health.
Alike other organizations, educational institutes are facing difficulties in detection & prevention of white-collar crime. As evident from literature review, personal relationships & loyalties are becoming hurdles in communication of information to concerned authorities. Resultantly, institutes have to bear the financial losses. One of the main reasons of reluctance to share information on emergence of crime in institutes is insecurity of employees in term of personal consequences. Therefore, the study will also explore how employees can be motivated & encouraged to share these information and assured safe from personal consequences. Moreover, P Gottschalk (2011) illustrated the basic three approaches; investigation, confrontation & communication on emergence of white-collar crime by CFOs but not given the significant insight about the most appropriate situational approach on emergence of white-collar crime. Therefore, the main focus of the study is to investigate & explore the best appropriate situational approach of auditors on detection of white-collar crime in universities of Kohat.
Research Purpose, Objectives & Question
Understanding how individuals cognitively represent the action on suspicion of white-collar crime & to read their responses accordingly, a constructivism study is undertaken which describe the responses of auditors on emergence of white-collar crime in universities of Kohat. The study will focus on understanding the essence of individual’s experiences to describe the lived phenomenon of “actions on suspicion of white-collar crime and to describe the most appropriate situational approach to actions”, collecting the responses by conducting primarily interviews of auditors of education sector, specifically from universities of Kohat and developing the theme from cluster of responses.
Research will helpful to give the significant insight about most appropriate situational approach that may be adopted by Financial Managers on emergence of white collar crime. The unlawful activities like white-collar crime will be discouraged. It will strengthen internal control (internal audit system) & communication climate of the organization. As lower the misappropriation, the more will the money to facilitate the education system.
The study is designed to answer the following research questions:
- How auditors react when suspicion of white-collar crime emerges?
- What is the most appropriate situational approach to actions on suspicion of white-collar crime in universities of Kohat?
Ontology is the assumptions we make about the kind and nature of reality and what exists (Richards, 2003. In Short, beliefs of researcher about the nature of what is being studied and the social world is known as ontology.
The study is designed to answer the research question by interviewing the individuals (auditors) that may have different views about “action on suspicion of white-collar crime in universities” so that the reality is multiple. The responses from respondents are collected during 2019, so there is chance of variation in responses if researcher collects the same information from same individuals after some period i.e in 2025, therefore, study/reality is considered time bound. Similarly, the reality is context bound & cannot be generalized because the data was collected only from Kohat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan; it is not necessary, the response to “action on suspicion on white-collar crime” will same for USA, UK & China. Therefore, the study/reality is context bound & findings of study cannot be true beyond the geographical boundaries. The reality is subjective because it is based on experiences of the respondents & explained from their perspectives. Finally, it is impossible to capture the reality through formula or law of any discipline, so researcher is trying to explore the reality.
As the reality is multiple, time bound, context bound, non-generalized, subjective, cannot be captured through formula & not static but constructed in mind, therefore, ontological position of the research will be social constructivism because these all are the beliefs of social constructivism.
Epistemology is what constitutes acceptable knowledge. It is all about the relationship of the researcher and what is being researched. Simply it explains:
- What is knowledge?
- How do we gain knowledge?
- How do we know reality
While, collecting the responses of individuals about “actions on suspicion of white-collar crime in education sector (which is reality)”, the researcher was very active & close to the participants with intention to constitute the reality based upon themes developed from cluster of responses. The reality is interpretive because the researcher makes the interpretation of what he find from the individuals during the interview. The responses of individuals (auditors) are shaped by researcher’s own experiences, making sense or interpreting the meaning & response of respondents about the actions on suspicion of white collar crime.
As the researcher is active, spends time in field with respondents to influence their responses based upon his own experience, close to the respondents for collaboration to mutually interpret / constitute the reality, therefore, the epistemological position of research is interpretivism.
Philosophy of Research
Philosophy is “a basic set of beliefs that guide action” (Guba, 1990). These beliefs have called paradigms (Lincoln & Guba, 2000; Mertens, 1998). A philosophy is the belief system to how you see things / objects in the world which are external to you. According to Cresswell (2003); there are four main research philosophies / paradigms / worldviews that frequently used in qualitative research. These are:
- Post Positivism
- Constructivism (often combined with Interpretivism)
- Advocacy / Participatory
The set of beliefs used by researcher designed to answer the research questions; “how will the auditor reacts when suspicion of white-collar crime emerges? And what is the most appropriate approach to actions on suspicion of white-collar crime in universities of Kohat”? The beliefs researcher about the reality of research is as under:
- The reality is multiple because during interviewing the individuals (auditors), it is quite possible that they have different views about action on suspicion of white-collar crime in universities. The case of multiple realities is used in constructivism.
- The responses from respondents are collected at specific point in time, so there is chance of variation in responses if researcher collects the same information from same individuals after some period. Therefore, study will considered time bound which is another belief of constructivism.
- Similarly, the reality is context bound & cannot be generalized because the data was collected only from Kohat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan; it is not necessary, the response to action on suspicion on white-collar crime will same in countries other than Pakistan. Therefore, the study is context bound & findings of study may prove false across the geographical boundaries. This is also a function of constructivism.
- The reality is subjective because it is based on experiences of the respondents & explained from their perspectives. Subjectivism also deals with constructivism.
- It is impossible to capture the reality through formula or law of any discipline, so researcher is trying to explore the reality and constructivism is philosophy where things or objects are explored.
- While, collecting the responses of individuals about actions on suspicion of white-collar crime in education sector, the researcher was very active & close to the participants with intention to constitute the reality based upon themes developed from cluster of responses.
- The reality is interpretive because the researcher makes the interpretation of what he find from the individuals during the interview.
- The responses of individuals (auditors) are shaped by researcher’s own experiences, making sense or interpreting the meanings of responses.
While, social constructivism is defined as “the philosophy where people understand & develop subjective meaning based on their experience of world. The meanings are multiple, different in nature and mutually constructed. The main focus of the researcher remains on responses & views of the participants (Merten, 1998)”.
The comparison of our reality with research philosophy of Constructivism shows that the research in hand follows the beliefs of constructivism philosophy. In view of the above, comparison of subject research & philosophy of constructivism, we come to know that research topic “ Actions on suspicion of white-collar crime in education sector” truly follows the beliefs of constructivism, therefore, it is illustrated that “philosophy of constructivism” is used in subject research.
- Bookman, A. (2008). Innovative models of aging in place: Transforming our communities for an aging population. Community, Work & Family, 11(4), 419-438.
- P Gottschalk (2011, Professional Issues in Criminal Justice Vol. 6(1&2), 2011; Actions on Suspicions of White-Collar Crime in Business Organizations, an empirical study conducted on intended responses of Chief Financial Officers in Norway
- Sutherland, E. H., Geis, G., & Goff, C. (1983). White collar crime: The uncut version (Vol. 58). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.