n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The role of leadership in reducing unethical behaviour and white-collar crime in an organisational context

Volume 25, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The aim of this theoretical qualitative research study was to focus on ethical leadership behaviour-related factors, which may influence employees' decisions to behave ethically or otherwise at work. This will be used as a basis to make practical suggestions on how unethical behaviour and white-collar crime may be reduced. Researchers tend to agree that ethics and ethical behaviour have become two of the most important topics of the new millennium. Reasons for this include well-publicised problems in the financial sector and other industries. Changing business conditions may also expose companies to more unethical conduct and an increase in white-collar crime. Mergers, takeovers, diversification, divestitures, deregulations and the pressure of international competition have increased the ethical vulnerability and incidence of white-collar crime of companies in virtually every industry. The government of South Africa identified the need for initiatives regarding the reduction of levels of crime (including white collar crime), by establishing a comprehensive National Crime Prevention Strategy (1996) as well as The Prevention of Organized Crime Act (1998). As part of their strategy, it was stated that the focus regarding the reduction of crime should be prevention and not crime control. The theoretical model of Stead, Worrel and Stead (1994:113) was used to explain the person-situation interaction of ethical behaviour. This model was then utilised as a basis to suggest organisational and individual interventions, in order to improve the situation with regard to unethical conduct and white-collar crime in South African organisations.

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