Accounting Seminar: Professor Clinton Free
Coping with fraud over time: Offender accounts
Although serious fraud is typically perpetrated over a long-time frame, fraud research has been heavily focused on the decision to commit fraud rather than the way it is sustained. Based on an analysis of 46 interviews with offenders who have committed serious fraud, we examine how fraud perpetrators sustain their offending over extended periods. We find that fraudulent offending is frequently associated with considerable negative stress for offenders including fear of detection, guilt and shame. We present a typology of strategies used by offenders to cope with negative stress over the course of their offending comprising (1) problem-based coping, (2) emotion-based coping, (3) meaning-based coping and (4) social coping. We find that while notions of rationalisation are germane for initial decisions to engage in fraud, we find limited recourse to rationalisation in the latter stages of offending. Offenders have often considerable scope for managing diverse, fragile, perhaps even contradictory, understandings of their selves. Control system implications for controlling situational prompts, pressures, permissibility and provocations are discussed.
Clinton Free is a Professor at the University of New South Wales. He holds Commerce and Law degrees from the University of New South Wales and a doctorate from Oxford University where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
Dr Free teaches and researches in the areas of management accounting, fraud and corporate governance. He is currently investigating a range of issues including collusion within organizations, whistle-blowing, as well as developments in risk management. His research is currently supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, major grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council as well as a number of smaller external and internal competitive research grants.
Dr Free has published widely in international journals including Accounting, Organizations & Society, Journal of Business Ethics and Contemporary Accounting Research. He has presented at, as well as organized, a variety of international conferences and sits on several editorial boards of several leading journals including Accounting, Organizations & Society, Contemporary Accounting Research and Auditing, Management Accounting Research and Accounting and Accountability Journal. Dr Free is an active supervisor of Honours, Masters and PhD research students.
Dr Free has consulted to a variety of organisations in both the private and public sectors and has been involved with executive education for over a decade. His clients include Merck Sonoma, Goldcorp, Red Cross, BMW, Canada Post, Clarity Systems, 3M and Jacques Whitford. He has also won several teaching awards for teaching both undergraduate and post-graduate courses. Prior to joining UNSW, Dr Free held academic positions at Oxford University (UK) and Queen's University (Canada) as well as working at PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Allens Arthur Robinson.