believe that the reason for the continuing growth in the prevalence
of dishonest employees is attributable to the fact that many
conventionally socialized people have discovered a way to
overcome guilt for doing something that they know is wrong.
In other words, normally honest and ethical employees are
stealing without feeling remorse for their behavior.
One of the most useful theories to explain why associates
who have passed the rigorous interview and screening process
will eventually steal is what criminologists Gresham Sykes
and David Matza call "techniques of neutralization."
In other words, we need to understand how conventionally socialized
persons negate the guilt or remorse that one should be expected
to feel for their deviant behaviors.
I have listed the major types below, along with a definition
for each in words that a retail-store employee might use to
express the concept.
DENIAL OF RESPONSIBILITY
"My store doesn't make any sincere attempt to protect
its merchandise. We have no working cameras or EAS tag alarms
like other retailers do, so it's not my fault when merchandise
is missing. It's obvious the company doesn't care."
DENIAL OF INJURY
"My employer sells so much merchandise that nobody will
miss the few items I take. They can afford it."
DENIAL OF THE VICTIM
"This company makes so much profit that they have no
right to claim that they are hurt by a few petty thefts. I
consider pilferage my "fringe benefit package."
CONDEMNATION OF THE CONDEMNER
"The store has no right to condemn me for stealing small
amounts of money and merchandise. My manager shouldn't be
surprised when we take things. In fact, if there is any victim
around here it is me, given the pitifully low wages that we
are paid. The company should not be surprised when their hard-working
employees steal. The more appropriate question they should
be asking is, "why is everybody not stealing?"
DEFENSE OF NECESSITY
"I really need the money to buy food and pay my rent."
Or, "If the company expects me to dress well at work,
then I am going to take money or merchandise to look presentable."
APPEAL TO HIGHER LOYALTIES
"My friends and family are far more important to me than
this company that I have been working at for just a few short
weeks. So, I let friends have free or reduced price items
when I ring them up at the cash register." Or, "I
need money to pay for my child's doctor bills, My kids and
family comes before my temporary allegiance to this company."
METAPHOR OF THE LEDGER
"We all work really hard around here, especially during
the holiday season. I keep track of what the company owes
me in my head. If I steal, it is only fair compensation for
unpaid extra hard work."