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Prof. Nelson’s award-winning paper tackles the issue of corporate crime


A recent article by Prof. Josephine Sandler Nelson has been recognized with two top awards—the Holmes-Cardozo Award for best submitted conference paper and the Distinguished Proceedings Award—by the Academy of Legal Studies in Business.

In her article “‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Corporate Crime,” Nelson discusses the way modern large-scale corporate crime is driven and shaped by ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ incentives. These incentives are centered on policing what corporations say, rather than what they do.

Using the 2015-17 Volkswagen scandal as an illustration for her argument, Nelson contends that disclosure-based regulation, instead of promoting honesty and integrity, teaches business organizations and top executives to be willfully blind to what is happening inside their organizations.  Moreover, the charges brought for disclosure-based conduct do not fit the substantive wrong.

“When VW settled with the U.S. federal government and other authorities, it merely admitted to not telling the truth about its deception. The criminal charges against VW and its executives are for covering up an organization’s crime, not for the crime itself,” Nelson said.

She goes on to propose an ‘easier ask, let individuals tell’ approach to preventing large-scale corporate wrongdoing.

Read the full article here:

Read Prof. Nelson’s related blog post on Columbia Law School’s Blog “The CLS Blue Sky Blog” here: