The Prevention of White-collar Crime in the Food Sector. An Interdisciplinary Applied Research Approach

Dr. Norbert Hirschauer
Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Prof. Dr. Sebastian Scheerer
Universität Hamburg

The probability that the buyer of a product is deceived with regard to its quality or safety (moral hazard) increases with the profits that the supplier can earn through deceptive (opportunistic) behaviour. It decreases with the probability and level of losses that result from disclosure of malpractice. It also decreases with protective factors rooted in the supplier’s social context – such as values, emotional bonds etc. – that shield him from yielding to economic temptations. Designing effective measures against moral hazard and white-collar crime requires comprehensive knowledge about how to enhance people‘s compliance with norms by way of social engineering. Considering the asymmetric information in most market transactions, a systematic prevention of moral hazard requires a consequential analysis of the economic incentives and the social context factors in force. This paper describes how such an analysis can be provided through an interdisciplinary approach which combines the analytical powers of two branches of the social sciences that try to reconstruct human decision-making and behaviour: microeconomics with the moral hazard approach derived from game theory, and criminology with the protective factor approach derived from control theories. This interdisciplinary approach, while being generally suited for market transactions characterized by asymmetric information, is discussed with regard to food quality and safety threatened by moral hazard. Its essentials are illustrated through a case study of grain farmers who might be tempted to infringe upon the minimum waiting period after fungicide use.


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verwandte Schlüsselbegriffe

Migration Computerkriminalität ProPK Crime prevention