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The soul of society

For her research on Corporate Responsibility and Business Ethics in Neoliberal Society, Roxane van Iperen had the opportunity to meet an authority on the matter: Professor Maurice Punch of the London School of Economics and Political Science, and King’s College London, former professor at Nyenrode. Specialised in corporate crime and ethics as well as corruption and reform of police organisations, he has been doing research since the 1970’s and wrote numerous books on both topics (Dirty Business: exploring corporate misconduct, Rethinking Corporate Crime, Shoot to Kill: Police, Firearms and Fatal Force.).

In your book Dirty Business: exploring corporate misconduct, written in 1996, you discuss cases of corporate deviance. That was before the financial crisis hit worldwide. Has the situation changed since then? 
‘Yes. The business scandals that I deal with in my book occurred within a corporation, within a branch of business or in a specific country. But what we’ve seen in the last fifteen years is entire economies almost being destroyed. I can give you an example, which is Ireland. There is a very interesting book written by a journalist called O’Toole: Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger. It is the analysis of Ireland’s economic debacle, with a lot of data on how the elite – the business elite, the political elite and the regulatory elite – all work together to rip society off. It’s kind of predatory, and what are the stakes?
The stakes are no longer: you have manipulated the market. No, the stakes are: you are destroying the environment. The stakes are: you are using unethical methods to test drugs in third world countries; you are buying your way into markets through corruption. It’s about this almost destructive nature of capitalism. Look at the risks and dangers of neoliberal governments, with deregulation, with global markets. Look at what’s happening to society, how societies are being undermined in a way. There is no work for people, the way the environment is being used, the way China is everywhere buying all minerals and resources. So I think the stakes are much higher now and the consequences much deeper.’

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