Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Susan M. Carlson


This study focuses on the state corporate crime that occurred when Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety implemented two computer systems that never functioned as promised. Failure of these systems resulted in death, injury, and substantial waste of taxpayer money. A case study method is used to describe and explain how this social harm occurred. An integrated theory of state-corporate crime developed by Kauzlarich and Kramer (1998) is used to examine theintersection of deviance between corporate vendors, the public safety department, and the federal government. More specifically, this study explores this intersection on three levels---the political economic setting before, during, and after the purchase of the systems; the organizational environment of the three actors involved; and the interactional, or face-to-face, encounters that took place between employees, managers, and executives.

This study reveals that the federal government facilitated state corporate crime in this case by providing money to local law enforcement agencies with few stipulations over how the money was to be spent, coupled with the lack of oversight activity. Computer vendors were able to take advantage of the lack ofthese controls to reap the benefits of the federal money by providing defective and substandard computer systems to the public safety department. At theorganizational level, the quest for profit usurped any form of quality controls, plus corporate deadlines that were tied to large bonuses drove vendors to implement systems before they had been stabilized and thoroughly tested. At the interactional level, dramaturgical stages were set, where fronts and performances for other members of differing organizations were put on to bring projects to fruition, and to convince others of the need for the systems and to spend money. Managerial images were created within the department to assure members of the agency that the systems would function, and that automation would help them in their jobs.

Policy recommendations include tighter government control of computer vendors, oversight by the federal government, and federal guidelines for local policeto aid in implementation of large computer information and communication systems. Future research should investigate the generalizability of these findings beyond the Kalamazoo case.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access