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    Broadening the Fraud Triangle: Instrumental Climate and...
    research summary posted November 15, 2016 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 06.0 Risk and Risk Management, Including Fraud Risk, 06.01 Fraud Risk Assessment, 06.02 Fraud Risk Models 
    Broadening the Fraud Triangle: Instrumental Climate and Fraud
    Practical Implications:

    This paper incorporates important organizational theory into the fraud literature by reporting the presence of an instrumental climate when fraud is being perpetrated within an organization. Internal auditors and those charged with governance could adapt this climate measure as a red flag for potential fraud. 


    Murphy, P. R. and C. Free. 2016. Broadening the Fraud Triangle: Instrumental Climate and Fraud. Behavioral Research in Accounting 28 (1): 41-56.

    organizational climate, instrumental climate, fraud, fraud triangle, rationalization
    Purpose of the Study:

    Many papers focus on investigating organizations in which management’s tone exemplifies high ethical standards, combined with a climate that support and encourages ethical behavior in an effort to examine if this organization is less vulnerable to fraud. However, this paper takes a different approach. It examines the “flip side” of organizations, those that are associated with fraud instead of those associated with preventing fraud. By doing this, the authors also hope to delve into the effectiveness of the fraud triangle. For years, the fraud triangle has been the dominant fraud framework but recently it has been called into question for its narrow interpretation and lack of comprehensiveness. Thus, the goal of this research is not only to identify an organizational climate that exists in the presence of fraud but also to broaden the interpretation of the fraud triangle by explicitly identifying fraud triangle elements related to such a climate. 

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The authors created and administered a survey to three groups of individuals having fraud experience: (1) prisoners who are incarcerated for committing fraud within an organization, (2) individuals who audited or investigated fraud within an organization, and (3) individuals who witnessed fraud within their organization. 

    • The authors find that 39 percent of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that an instrumental climate was present when fraud occurred within the organization.
    • The authors find that an instrumental climate is significantly associated with a malevolent work environment and social incentives and pressures.
    • The authors find that the use of externally oriented rationalizations are very common with instrumental climates, especially the claim of helping the company.
    • The authors find that an instrumental climate is not associated with conventional attitude variables (prior history of white-collar crime, character, ethical values of the perpetrator), internally oriented rationalizations (minimizing or ignoring the consequences of the fraud, or entitlement) or individual greed or need. 
    Risk & Risk Management - Including Fraud Risk
    Fraud Risk Assessment, Fraud Risk Models