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The following month the clerk received the FBI agent’s next expense voucher and ex- amined it with a fine-tooth comb to make sure Willis didn’t try again. Convinced the voucher was satisfactory, the clerk called Willis. “I’m glad to see you didn’t try to claim the cost of that suit again,” the clerk said. Willis reputedly replied, “That’s where you’re wrong. The cost of that suit is in the voucher. All you have to do is find it.”

This story illustrates the same concept that Mars observed consistently among hotel dining room employees and dock workers. The employees believed that pilferage was not theft, but was “seen as a morally justified addition to wages; indeed, as an entitle- ment due from exploiting employers.”44 Altheide also documented that theft is often per- ceived by employees as a “way of getting back at the boss or supervisor.”45 From my own experience with Mr. Zac, I can verify this sentiment. Jason Ditton documented a pattern in U.S. industries called “wages in kind,” in which employees “situated in struc- turally disadvantaged parts [of the organization] receive large segments of their wages invisibly.”46

Organizational Controls and Deviance

Try as they might, Hollinger and Clark were unable to document a strong relationship between control and deviance. They examined five different control mechanisms: com- pany policy, selection of personnel, inventory control, security, and punishment.

Company policy can be an effective control. Hollinger and Clark pointed out that companies with a strong policy against absenteeism have less of a problem with it. As a result, they would expect policies governing employee theft to have the same impact. Similarly, they felt employee education as an organizational policy has a deterrent effect. Control through selection of personnel is exerted by hiring persons who will conform to organizational expectations. Inventory control is required not only for theft, but for pro- cedures to detect errors, avoid waste, and insure a proper amount of inventory is main- tained. Security controls involve proactive and reactive measures, surveillance, internal investigations, and others. Control through punishment is designed to deter the specific individual, plus those who might be tempted to act illegally.

Hollinger and Clark interviewed numerous employees in an attempt to determine their attitudes toward control. With respect to policy, they concluded that “the issue of theft by employees is a sensitive one in organizations and must be handled with some discretion. A concern for theft must be expressed without creating an atmosphere of dis- trust and paranoia. If an organization places too much stress on the topic, honest em- ployees may feel unfairly suspected, resulting in lowered morale and higher turnover.”47

Employees in the study also perceived, in general, that computerized inventory records added security and made theft more difficult. With respect to security control, the researchers discovered that the employees regarded the purpose of a security divi- sion as taking care of outside—rather than inside—security. Few of the employees were aware that security departments investigate employee theft, and most such departments had a poor image among the workers. With respect to punishment, the employees inter- viewed felt theft would result in job termination in a worst-case scenario. They per- ceived that minor thefts would be handled by reprimands only.


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