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Criminal entrepreneurship, white-collar criminality, and neutralization theory.

Gottschalk, Petter; Smith, Robert


Petter Gottschalk

Robert Smith


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to apply neutralization theory to white-collar criminals to discuss criminal entrepreneurship. Design/methodology/approach: The theoretical framework of neutralization techniques is applied to criminal entrepreneurship and white-collar criminality. Findings: A legal entrepreneur is a person who operates a new enterprise or venture and assumes some accountability for the inherent risk. Similarly, the criminal entrepreneur's task is to discover and exploit opportunities, defined most simply as situations in which there are a profit to be made in criminal activity. Research limitations/implications: Examples of criminal entrepreneurship committed by otherwise legal entrepreneurs are commonly labeled as white-collar criminality. This paper discusses how criminal entrepreneurship by white-collar criminals can be explained by neutralization theory, as white-collar criminals tend to apply techniques of neutralization used by offenders to deny the criminality of their actions. Practical implications: Policing white-collar criminality should be expanded to understand criminal entrepreneurs when applying neutralization theory to deny crime activities. Social implications: Neutralization theory illustrates how serious white-collar crime is denied by the offender. Originality/value: As can be seen by this brief discussion of criminal entrepreneurship, white-collar criminality and corporate and organized crime, there is a need for a concentrated research effort to clarify and explain these conflated conflicts. By discussing them in context this paper has made a contribution to the literature by introducing the concepts of entrepreneurial leadership and entrepreneurial judgment into the debate. Moreover, in discussing neutralization theory, some fresh insights can be gained into the mind of the criminal entrepreneur.


GOTTSCHALK, P. and SMITH, R. 2011. Criminal entrepreneurship, white-collar criminality, and neutralization theory. Journal of enterprising communities: People and places in the global economy [online], 5(4), pages 300-308. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 18, 2011
Online Publication Date Oct 18, 2011
Publication Date Dec 31, 2011
Deposit Date Nov 30, 2011
Publicly Available Date Nov 30, 2011
Journal Journal of enterprising communities: people and places in the global economy
Print ISSN 1750-6204
Electronic ISSN 1750-6212
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Issue 4
Pages 300-308
Keywords Crime; Criminal entrepreneur; Criminals; Entrepreneurialism; Entrepreneurs; Neutralisation theory; White collar crime
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