Boiling the Frog Slowly: The Immersion of C-Suite Financial Executives into Fraud

Ikseon Suh*, John T. Sweeney, Kristina Linke, Joseph M. Wall

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This study explores how financial executives retrospectively account for their crossing the line into financial statement fraud while acting within or reacting to a financialized corporate environment. We conduct our investigation through face-to-face interviews with 13 former C-suite financial executives who were involved in and indicted for major cases of accounting fraud. Five different themes of accounts emerged from the narratives, characterizing executives' fraud immersion as a meaning-making process by which the particulars of the proximal social context (the influence of social actors and contextual characteristics) and individual motivations collectively molded executives' vocabularies of fraud immersion. Our executives' narratives portray their fraud entanglement as typically occurring in small, incremental steps. Their accounts expand our understanding of the influence of socialization on executive-level financial fraud beyond the individualized focus of the fraud triangle model.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)645-673
    Number of pages29
    JournalJournal of Business Ethics
    Volume162
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar-2020

    Keywords

    • Financial statement fraud
    • Incrementalism
    • Slippery slope
    • Socialization
    • PROCESS MODEL
    • MANAGERS
    • NEUTRALIZATION
    • ORGANIZATIONS
    • CONSTRUCTION
    • CORRUPTION
    • THINGS

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