Seminar: Cooperation against the law – The social organisation of business cartels and the cartel parallax

By Jelle David Jaspers, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Thu 19 Apr 2018
3:00 - 5:00 pm


Room 813, The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU

During the past two decades, regulation and enforcement of business cartels is growing exponentially. Governments and regulators around the world stress how illegal agreements between competitors, fixing prices and dividing markets, cause severe financial damage, harm consumer trust and hinder innovation. Cartel enforcement authorities use heavy penalties, whistle-blower and leniency policies in their efforts to control and detect cartel conduct. Despite the increased efforts to discourage cartels, detected cases demonstrate how cartels persist to endure for years, sometimes decades and how they can be systemic to an entire industry sector.

This study looks at economic cartels as being socially embedded. The role of trust and social control, the paradoxes between cooperation, cheating and concealment are discussed in explaining the longevity of cartels through its social organisation. Based on case-file analysis and interviews with insiders, this study shows how cartelists constituting a strong illegal social network react to increased external control by strengthening the internal control of cartels. These cases demonstrate how sanctions not always deter sufficiently, and how cartelists use the leniency arrangement strategically.

Jelle David Jaspers, MSc is a Dutch Criminologist affiliated with the Erasmus University Rotterdam. His work relates to corporate and organisational crime, regulatory compliance and organised crime. He has worked before as a researcher and consultant to several regulatory agencies and as a researcher and lecturer in Criminology and Law at the Erasmus School of Law. David’s work is published in national and international journals, he regularly presents work at international conferences, workshops and seminars and was a Visiting Academic at the ‘Centre International de Criminologie Comparee’ (CICC), Université de Montréal (UdeM) and the ‘Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice’, The University of Manchester. His current work on business cartels is funded by the Netherlands Research Council (NWO) and part of his PhD project.

HKU Sociology

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