Which Compliance Measures in Companies Develop a Preventive Effect?

Although corporate compliance departments establish comprehensive measures to prevent white collar crime, time and again, cases of corruption, bribery and fraud are uncovered in business circles. "Many of these measures are recommended as best practices, even though there has so far been a lack of well-founded information about whether, and to what extent, they develop a preventive effect at all," emphasises sociologist Markus Pohlmann. This gap in research is something that a team of scientists from different disciplines now intends to close, with the assistance of partners from the world of business. The two-year project is coordinated by the Max-Weber-Institute of Sociology at Heidelberg University.

The interdisciplinary project will explore the question as to which of the preventive measures are classed as effective in the long term by compliance experts from big corporations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and for what reasons. The researchers want to evaluate expert ratings, intervention studies and risk assessments. Furthermore, it is about "blind spots" that are typically not detected by the tools established by the companies for risk analysis and the thought patterns of the compliance experts. They include the risk that the measures primarily provoke socially desired responses to the compliance personnel.

"Further, we want to use the empirical findings to identify academically founded measures showing how to effectively prevent irregular behaviour," says Prof. Pohlmann, who is coordinating the project with Dr Sebastian Starystach. Researchers from sociology, psychology, economics and law are involved in the project. Cooperation partners are the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, the limited liability company Simply Rational GmbH and the E.ON SE energy corporation. KBA-NotaSys Integrity Fund is supporting the two-year research project with 170,000 euros.