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Critical Thinking Analysis should be two pages double spaced, discussing the issue presented emphasizing the connections between business, law, politics, and ethics. You may answer the questions presented if they help.


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Allocating Blame for White-Collar Crime

Despite the prevalence of white-collar crime in the business world, it is wrong to try to pin the blame for a white-collar crime on just anyone. Our seeking someone to blame is exactly the motivation underlying the practice of pinning liability on managers for the wrongdoing of those employees below the managers. Just because a manager might be easier to identify and blame does not make it right to attach legal liability to the manager by virtue of his or her role as “manager.”

The vast majority of crimes require a wrongful act, as well as a guilty mind, or mens rea. The problem with finding managers liable for the actions of those below them is that neither the element of wrongful act nor that of mens rea is met with respect to the manager. That is, just because a low-level employee commits a white-collar crime does not mean the manager participated or even intended for a crime to be committed. Liability imposed on managers for the wrongful acts of others overstretches the bounds of proper criminal liability. After all, is it right to legally hold parents responsible for the actions of their kids? What about holding teachers liable for an illegal act by one of their students? To hold a manager (or parent or teacher) accountable for the wrongful acts of another is absurd.

Another problem with imposing liability upon a manager for the actions of a lower-level employee is that the imposition of liability ignores the manager’s other responsibilities. Managers are in charge of numerous people, as well as having their own work they need to complete. Accordingly, managers cannot be expected to keep an eye on every little action of all of the employees below them at all times. Even the most vigilant of managers has the potential to miss one act of wrongdoing by a lower-level employee. It seems wrong to hold this diligent manager legally liable because one employee was able to fool the manager and hide his wrongdoing from the manager.

Finally, businesses in general are harmed by the practice of holding managers liable for the actions of other employees. Businesses need qualified managers to ensure that everything runs smoothly. Holding managers liable for the actions of others, however, creates a disincentive for becoming a manager. If the practice of holding a manager liable for the white-collar crimes of lower-level employees continues, the number of competent, caring people who want to become managers will greatly decrease. This decrease could cost businesses by preventing the best people from rising to the top to be managers, because these people could fear the wrongful attribution of liability for the acts of another.

  • 1. How would you frame the issue and conclusion of this essay?
  • 2. Is there relevant missing information in the argument? Clue: What would you like to know before deciding whether the author is correct?
  • 3. What ethical norm does the author appear to rely upon most heavily in making the argument?
  • 4. Write an essay that someone who holds an opinion opposite to that of the essay author might write. Clue: What other ethical norms could influence an opinion on this issue?

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