Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg September 14, 2021

Violating “laws of the state” and “laws of the organization”

  • Stefan Kühl EMAIL logo


Das Verhältnis der Erwartungsbildung in Staaten durch positives Recht und der Ausbildung von Erwartungen in Organisationen durch Formalisierung ist bisher theoretisch unzureichend beleuchtet worden. Aus einer systemtheoretischen Perspektive werden in diesem Artikel die Gemeinsamkeiten und Unterschiede dieser „Rechtsbildung“ auf der Ebene des Staates und der Organisation näher untersucht. Anschließend an die Diskussion über die Frage der Verantwortung für Gesetzesverstöße aus Organisationen heraus, werden die unterschiedlichen Adressierungsversuche soziologisch eingeordnet. Dabei wird gerade im Gegensatz zur in der Literatur dominanten Annahme über Regeltreue in Organisationen argumentiert, dass es aufgrund der Verrechtlichung der modernen Gesellschaft nicht möglich ist, eine klare Trennung zwischen Verstößen gegen positivierte staatliche Gesetze und formalisierte organisationale Regeln vorzunehmen.


The relationship between the formation of expectations in states through positive law and the formation of expectations in organizations through formalization has so far not been adequately examined theoretically. From a systemic perspective, this article examines the similarities and differences of these legal constructions at the level of the state and the organization. Following the discussion on the question of responsibility for legal violations from organizations, the different attempts at addressing these issues are discussed. In contrast to the dominant assumption in literature about compliance in organizations, it is argued that due to the legalization of modern society, it is not possible to make a clear distinction between violations of positive state laws and formalized organizational rules.

Article Note

This article is based on chapter 2 of my book “Brauchbare Illegalität. Vom Nutzen des Regelbruchs in Organisationen” (Campus 2020).


Albini, Joseph L. (1971) The American Mafia. Genesis of a Legend. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Search in Google Scholar

Arlacchi, Pino (1986) Mafia Business. The Mafia Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. London: Verso.Search in Google Scholar

Baker, Wayne E.; Faulkner, Robert R. (1993) The Social Organization of Conspiracy: Illegal Networks in the Heavy Electrical Equipment Industry. In: American Sociological Review 58, p. 837–860.10.2307/2095954Search in Google Scholar

Barkan, Joshua (2013) Corporate Sovereignty. Law and Government under Capitalism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.10.5749/minnesota/9780816674268.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Barrile, Leo G. (1993) A Soul to Damn and A Body to Kick: Imprisoning Corporate Criminals. In: Humanity & Society 17 (2), p. 176–199. DOI: 10.1177/016059769301700204.10.1177/016059769301700204Search in Google Scholar

Bergmann, Jens (2016) Corporate Crime, Kriminalitätstheorie und Organisationssoziologie. In: Monatsschrift für Kriminologie und Strafrechtsreform 99, p. 3–22.10.1515/mks-2016-990503Search in Google Scholar

Braithwaite, John (1984) Corporate Crime in the Pharmaceutical Industry. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Search in Google Scholar

Braithwaite, John; Fisse, Brent (1990) On the Plausibility of Corporate Crime Theory. In: William S. Laufer (Ed.): Advances in Criminological Theory. Volume Two. New Brunswick, London: Transaction Publishers, p. 15–38.10.4324/9781351317160-2Search in Google Scholar

Brown, Darryl K. (2000) Street Crime, Corporate Crime, and the Contingency of Criminal Liability. In: University of Pennsylvania Law Review 149, p. 1295–1360.10.2139/ssrn.253063Search in Google Scholar

Busch, Richard (1933) Grundfragen der strafrechtlichen Verantwortlichkeit der Verbaende. Leipzig: Weicher.Search in Google Scholar

Catanzaro, Raimondo (1985) Enforcers, Entrepreneurs, and Survivors. How the Mafia Has Adapted to Change. In: British Journal of Sociology 36, p. 34–57.10.2307/590401Search in Google Scholar

Clinard, Marshall B.; Yeager, Peter C. (1980) Corporate Crime. New York: Free Press.10.4324/9781315080314Search in Google Scholar

Coffee, John C. (1980) Corporate Crime and Punishment. A Non-Chicago View of the Economics of Criminal Sanctions. In: American Criminal Law Review 17, p. 419–476.Search in Google Scholar

Coleman, James S. (1982) The Asymmetric Society. New York: Syracuse University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Crane, Andrew (2013) Modern Slavery As A Management Practice: Exploring the Conditions and Capabilities for Human Exploitation. In: Academy of Management Review 38 (1), p. 49–69.10.5465/amr.2011.0145Search in Google Scholar

Cressey, Donald R. (1988) Poverty of Theory in Corporate Crime Research. In: Advances in Criminological Theory 1, p. 31–56.10.4324/9781351317566-3Search in Google Scholar

Croall, Hazel (2009) Editor’s Introduction. Corporate Crime: Cases and Explanations. In: Hazel Croall (Ed.): Corporate Crime. Volume 2 Corporate Crime: Cases and Explanations. Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore: Sage, p. vii–xvi.10.4135/9781446261163Search in Google Scholar

Davalos, Jorge; Delgado, Mónica; Alban, Jacobo (2018) Guerrillereas. Testimonios de cinco combatientes de las FARC. San Sebastián de Buenavista: Nodo des saberes populares Orinoco-Magdalena.Search in Google Scholar

Dorn, Christopher; Hoebel, Thomas (2013) Mafias als organisierte Dritte. In: Behemoth 6, p. 74–97.Search in Google Scholar

Dozier, Janelle Brinker; Miceli, Marcia P. (1985) Potential Predictors of Whistle-Blowing: A Prosocial Behavior Perspective. In: Academy of Management Review 10 (4), p. 823–836.10.2307/258050Search in Google Scholar

Edelman, Lauren B.; Suchman, Mark C. (1997) The Legal Environments of Organizations. In: Annual Review of Sociology 23, p. 479–515.10.1146/annurev.soc.23.1.479Search in Google Scholar

Fernández Menéndez, Jorge; Ronquillo, Víctor (2010) De los maras a los Zetas. Los secretos del narcotráfico, de Colombia a Chicago. 3. Aufl. México City: Debolsillo.Search in Google Scholar

Fischel, Daniel R.; Sykes, Alan O. (1996) Corporate Crime. In: Journal of Legal Studies 25, p. 319–349.10.1086/467980Search in Google Scholar

Fisse, Brent; Braithwaite, John (1993) Corporations, Crime, and Accountability. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511659133Search in Google Scholar

Fred, Alford C. (2001) Whistleblowers. Broken Lives and Organizational Power. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Gambetta, Diego (1988) Fragments of an Economic Theory of the Mafia. In: European Journal of Sociology 29, p. 127–145. DOI: 10.1017/S0003975600005610.10.1017/S0003975600005610Search in Google Scholar

Gambetta, Diego (1993) The Sicilian Mafia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Gambetta, Diego; Reuter, Peter (2016) Conspiracy among the Many. The Mafia in Legitimate Industries. In: Nigel G. Fielding, Alan Clark und Robert Witt (Ed.): The Economic Dimensions of Crime. London: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 100–121.Search in Google Scholar

Geis, Gilbert (1995) A Review, Rebuttal and Reconcilation of Cressey and Braithwaite and Fisse on Criminological Theory and Corporate Crime. In: Freda Adler und William S. Laufer (Ed.): The Legacy of Anomie Theory. Advances in Criminological Theory Volume 6. New Brunswick, London: Transaction Publishers, p. 399–428.Search in Google Scholar

Geis, Gilbert (2007) Crime, Corporate. In: George Ritzer (Ed.): The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Malden: Blackwell, p. 826–828.10.1002/9781405165518.wbeosc148Search in Google Scholar

Glazer, Myron (1989) The Whistleblowers. Exposing Corruption in Government and Indsutry. New York: Basic Books.Search in Google Scholar

Gobert, James (2008) The Evolving Legal Test of Corporate Criminal Liability. In: John Minkes und Leonard Minkes (Ed.): Corporate and White Collar Crime. London, Thousand Oaks: Sage, p. 61–80.10.4135/9781446214619.n4Search in Google Scholar

Gobert, James J.; Punch, Maurice (2003) Rethinking Corporate Crime. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Gómez Tomillo, Manuel (2015) Introducción a la responsabilidad penal de las personas jurídicas. 3. Aufl. Cizur Menor (Navarra): Thomson Reuters Aranzadi.Search in Google Scholar

Grayson, George W.; Logan, Sam R. (2012) The Executioner’s Men. Los Zetas, Rogue Soldiers, Criminal Entrepreneurs, and the Shadow State They Created. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.Search in Google Scholar

Green, Stuart P. (2004) Moral Ambiguity in White Collar Criminal Law. In: Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy 18, p. 502–519.Search in Google Scholar

Guzman, Lily Rueda; Holá, Barbora (2019) Punishment in Negotiated Transitions: The Case of the Colombian Peace Agreement with the farc-ep. In: International Criminal Law Review 19 (1), p. 127–159.10.1163/15718123-01901006Search in Google Scholar

Hahn, Rüdiger (2013) ISO 26000 and the Standardization of Strategic Management Processes for Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. In: Business Strategy and the Environment 22 (7), p. 442–455. DOI: 10.1002/bse.1751.10.1002/bse.1751Search in Google Scholar

Haldane, Andrew G. (2012) The Dog and the Frisbee. Jackson Hole: Speech at the Economic Policy Symposium.Search in Google Scholar

Hallis, Frederick (1978) Corporate Personality. A Study in Jurisprudence. Aalen: Scientia Bonnensis.Search in Google Scholar

Hasnas, John (2006) Trapped. When Acting Ethically is Against the Law. Washington, D.C: Cato Institute.Search in Google Scholar

Huff, Kevin. B. (1996) The Role of Corporate Compliance Programs in Determining Corporate Criminal Liability. A Suggested Approach. In: Columbia Law Review 96, p. 1152–1298.Search in Google Scholar

Hwang, Hokyu; Colyvas, Jeannette A. (2011) Problematizing Actors and Institutions in Institutional Work. In: Journal of Management Inquiry 20, p. 62–66.10.1177/1056492610387705Search in Google Scholar

Kette, Sven (2014) Diskreditiertes Scheitern. Katastrophale Unfälle als Organisationsproblem. In: Jens Bergmann, Matthias Hahn, Antonia Langhof und Gabriele Wagner (Ed.): Scheitern – Organisations- und wirtschaftssoziologische Analysen. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, p. 159–181.10.1007/978-3-658-01652-4_7Search in Google Scholar

Kindler, Steffi (2008) Das Unternehmen als haftender Täter. Ein Beitrag zur Frage der Verbandsstrafe im deutschen Strafrechtssystem: Lösungswege und Entwicklungsperspektiven de lege lata und de lege ferenda. Baden-Baden: Nomos.10.5771/9783845206752Search in Google Scholar

Kölbel, Ralf (2014) Corporate Crime, Unternehmenssanktion und kriminelle Verbandsattitüde. In: Zeitschrift für Internationale Strafrechtsdogmatik 11, p. 552–557.10.1515/9783110315738.775Search in Google Scholar

Kraakman, Reinier H. (1984) Corporate Liability Strategies and the Costs of Legal Controls. In: Yale Law Journal 93, p. 857–898.10.2307/796101Search in Google Scholar

Kühl, Stefan (2011) Organisationen. Eine sehr kurze Einführung. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.Search in Google Scholar

Kühl, Stefan (2012) Zwangsorganisationen. In: Maja Apelt und Veronika Tacke (Ed.): Handbuch Organisationstypen. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, p. 345–358.10.1007/978-3-531-93312-2_17Search in Google Scholar

Kühl, Stefan (2019) Work. Marxist and Systems-Theoretical Approaches. London, New York: Routledge.10.4324/9780429032097Search in Google Scholar

Laufer, William S. (1999) Corporate Liability, Risk Shifting, and the Paradox of Compliance. In: Vanderbilt Law Review 52, p. 1341.Search in Google Scholar

Laufer, William S. (2006) Corporate Bodies and Guilty Minds. The Failure of Corporate Criminal Liability. Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press.10.7208/chicago/9780226470429.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Lee, Frederic P. (1928) Corporate Criminal Liability. In: Columbia Law Review 28, p. 1–28.Search in Google Scholar

Levi, Michael (1998) Perspectives on Organised Crime: An Overview. In: Howard Journal of Criminal Justice 37, p. 335–345.10.1111/1468-2311.00104Search in Google Scholar

Lübbe, Hermann (1998) Kontingenzerfahrung und Kontingenzbewältigung. In: Gerhart Graevenitz und Odo Marquard (Ed.): Kontingenz. Fink: Wilhelm Fink, p. 35–48.Search in Google Scholar

Luhmann, Niklas (1964) Funktionen und Folgen formaler Organisation. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.10.1007/978-3-658-23434-8_10Search in Google Scholar

Luhmann, Niklas (1972) Rechtssoziologie. Reinbek: Rowohlt.10.1007/978-3-322-95699-6Search in Google Scholar

Luhmann, Niklas (1990) Die Stellung der Gerichte im Rechtssystem. In: Rechtstheorie 21, p. 459–473.10.1007/978-3-658-23212-2_12Search in Google Scholar

Luhmann, Niklas (2002a) Das Erziehungssystem der Gesellschaft. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp.Search in Google Scholar

Luhmann, Niklas (2002b) Die Politik der Gesellschaft. Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp.Search in Google Scholar

Luhmann, Niklas (2005a) Allgemeine Theorie organisierter Sozialsysteme. In: Niklas Luhmann (Ed.): Soziologische Aufklärung 1. Aufsätze zur Theorie sozialer Systeme. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, p. 48–62.10.1007/978-3-663-11447-5_3Search in Google Scholar

Luhmann, Niklas (2005b) Positives Recht und Ideologie. In: Niklas Luhmann (Ed.): Soziologische Aufklärung 1. Aufsätze zur Theorie sozialer Systeme. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, p. 224–255.10.1007/978-3-663-11447-5Search in Google Scholar

Luhmann, Niklas (2014) A Sociological Theory of Law. Second edition. Oxford: Routledge. [Rechtssoziologie, 1972]Search in Google Scholar

Luhmann, Niklas (2018) “Verantwortung und Verantwortlichkeit” [1961] in: Ernst Lukas and Veronika Tacke (Ed.): Schriften zur Organisation 1: Die Wirklichkeit der Organisation, Wiesbaden: Springer VS, p. 47–58.10.1007/978-3-658-22503-2_4Search in Google Scholar

Luhmann, Niklas (2020) Organization, Membership and the Formalization of Behavioural expectations. In: Systems Research and Behavioral Science 37, p. 425–449. [First five chapters of Funktionen und Folgen formaler Organisation, 1964]10.1002/sres.2689Search in Google Scholar

Lynch, Michael J.; McGurrin, Danielle; Fenwick, Melissa (2004) Disappearing Act. The Representation of Corporate Crime Research in Criminological Literature. In: Journal of Criminal Justice 32 (5), p. 389–398.10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2004.06.001Search in Google Scholar

March, James G.; Simon, Herbert A. (1958) Organizations. New York: John Wiley & Sons.10.2307/j.ctv1f886rp.23Search in Google Scholar

Matys, Thomas (2011) Legal Persons – „Kämpfe“ und die organisationale Form. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.10.1007/978-3-531-94147-9Search in Google Scholar

Mayntz, Renate (1963) Soziologie der Organisation. Reinbek: Rowohlt.Search in Google Scholar

Mayntz, Renate; Scharpf, Fritz (1995) Der Ansatz des akteurzentrierte Institutionalismus. In: Renate Mayntz und Fritz W. Scharpf (Ed.): Gesellschaftliche Selbstregelung und politische Steuerung. Frankfurt a.M., New York: Campus, p. 39–72.Search in Google Scholar

McGreal, Chris (2018) American Overdose. The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts. New York: PublicAffairs.Search in Google Scholar

Meier, Barry (2018) Pain Killer. An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic. 2. Aufl. New York: Random House.Search in Google Scholar

Meyer, John W. (1992) Institutionalization and the Rationality of Formal Organizational Structure. In: John W. Meyer und W. Richard Scott (Ed.): Organizational Environments. Ritual and Rationality. Newbury, London, New Delhi: Sage, p. 261–283.Search in Google Scholar

Meyer, John W.; Jepperson, Ronald L. (2000) The „Actors“ of Modern Society. The Cultural Construction of Social Agency. In: Sociological Theory 18, p. 100–120.10.1111/0735-2751.00090Search in Google Scholar

Meyer, John W.; Rowan, Brian (1977) Institutionalized Organizations. Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony. In: American Journal of Sociology 83, p. 340–363.10.1086/226550Search in Google Scholar

Nace, Ted (2003) Gangs of America. The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.Search in Google Scholar

Near, Janet P.; Miceli, Marcia P. (1987) Whistle-blowers in Organizations. Dissidents or Reformers? In: Research in Organisational Behavior 9, p. 321–368.Search in Google Scholar

O’Connell Davidson, Julia (2015) Modern Slavery. The Margins of Freedom. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.10.1057/9781137297297Search in Google Scholar

Olasolo, Héctor; Cantor, Jannluck Canosa (2019) The Treatment of Superior Responsibility in Colombia. Interpreting the Agreement Between the Colombian Government and the FARC. In: Criminal Law Forum 30 (1), p. 61–107.10.1007/s10609-018-9359-6Search in Google Scholar

Ortmann, Günther (2017) Für ein Unternehmensstrafrecht. Sechs Thesen sieben Fragen, eine Nachbermerkung. In: Neue Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts-, Steuer- und Unternehmensstrafrecht 6, p. 241–251.Search in Google Scholar

Ott, Claus (1977) Recht und Realität der Unternehmenskorporation. Ein Beitrag zur Theorie der juristischen Person. Tübingen: Mohr.Search in Google Scholar

Perrow, Charles (1984) Normal Accidents. New York: Basic Books.Search in Google Scholar

Pitt, Harvey L.; Groskaufmanis, Karl A. (1989) Minimizing Corporate Civil and Criminal Liability: A Second Look at Corporate Codes of Conduct. In: Georgetown Law Journal 78, p. 1559–1654.Search in Google Scholar

Rapoport, Anatol; Chammah, Albert M. (1965) Prisoner’s Dilemma. A Study in Conflict and Cooperation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Search in Google Scholar

Rotter, Frank (1968) Zur Funktion der juristischen Person in der Bundesrepublik und in der DDR. Karlsruhe: Moeller.Search in Google Scholar

Saleilles, Raymond (2003) De la personnalité juridique. Histoire et théories. Paris: Éditions la Mémoire du droit.Search in Google Scholar

Savigny, Friedrich Carl von (1840) System des heutigen Roemischen Rechts. Band 2. Berlin: Veit.10.1515/9783111443348Search in Google Scholar

Schauer, Frederick F. (1991) Playing by the Rules. A Philosophical Examination of Rule-based Decision-making in Law and in Life. New York, Oxford: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Schneider, Anthony (2004) Tony Soprano on Management. Leadership Lessons Inspired by America’s Favorite Mobster. New York: Berkley Books.Search in Google Scholar

Schröder, Thomas (2019) Corporate Crime, the Lawmaker’s Options for Corporate Criminal Laws and Luhmann’s Concept of „Useful Illegality“. In: International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice 57, p. 13–25.10.1016/j.ijlcj.2019.01.004Search in Google Scholar

Schünemann, Bernd (1979) Unternehmenskriminalität und Strafrecht. Eine Untersuchung der Verantwortlichkeit der Unternehmen und ihrer Führungskräfte nach geltendem und geplantem Straf- und Ordnungswidrigkeitenrecht. Köln: Heymanns.Search in Google Scholar

Seibel, Wolfgang; Klamann, Kevin; Treis, Hannah (2017) Verwaltungsdesaster. Von der Loveparade bis zu den NSU-Ermittlungen. Frankfurt, New York: Campus Verlag.Search in Google Scholar

Stinchcombe, Arthur L. (2001) When Formality Works. Authority and Abstraction in Law and Organizations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Search in Google Scholar

Stone, Christopher D. (1980) The Place of Enterprise Liability in the Control of Corporate Conduct. In: Yale Law Journal 90, p. 1–77.10.2307/795857Search in Google Scholar

Teubner, Gunther (1987a) Juridification – Concepts, Aspects Limits, Solution. In: Gunther Teubner (Ed.): Juridification of Social Spheres. A Comparative Analysis in the Areas ob Labor, Corporate, Antitrust and Social Welfare Law. Berlin: de Gruyter, p. 3–48.10.1515/9783110921472Search in Google Scholar

Teubner, Gunther (1987b) Unternehmenskorporatismus. New Industrial Policy und das „Wesen“ der Juristischen Person. In: Kritische Vierteljahresschrift für Gesetzgebung und Rechtswissenschaft 2, p. 61–85.Search in Google Scholar

Tilly, Charles (1985) War Making and State Making as Organized Crime. In: Peter B. Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer und Theda Skocpol (Ed.): Bringing the State Back In. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, p. 169–186.10.1017/CBO9780511628283.008Search in Google Scholar

Twining, William L.; Miers, David (2010) How to do Things with Rules. A Primer of Interpretation. 5. Aufl. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511844959Search in Google Scholar

Wagner, Gerhard (2016) Sinn und Unsinn der Unternehmensstrafe. Mehr Prävention durch Kriminalisierung. In: Zeitschrift für Gesellschaftsrecht 45, p. 112–152.10.1515/zgr-2016-0112Search in Google Scholar

Walsh, Charles J.; Pyrich, Alissa (1994) Corporate Compliance Programs as a Defense to Criminal Liability: Can a Corporation Save Its Soul. In: Rutgers Law Review 47, p. 605–691.Search in Google Scholar

Wells, Celia (2005) Corporations and Criminal Responsibility. 2. Aufl. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198267935.001.0001Search in Google Scholar

Yeager, Peter Cleary (2007) Understanding Corporate Lawbreaking. From Profit Seeking to Law Finding. In: Henry N. Pontell und Gilbert Geis (Ed.): International Handbook of White-Collar and Corporate Crime. New York: Springer Science + Business Media, p. 25–49.10.1007/978-0-387-34111-8_2Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2021-09-14
Published in Print: 2021-09-10

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 9.12.2023 from
Scroll to top button