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Title: A study of the moral development, beliefs and relationships of the criminal entrepreneur
Author: Haggerstone, J. R.
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2010
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The thesis focuses on ‘criminal entrepreneurs,’ i.e. those individuals who behave in an entrepreneurial manner who have chosen a life of crime to obtain an income or create wealth rather than setting up and running their own legitimate businesses. The research is based on male prisoners, predominantly fraudsters and drug dealers, and was motivated by the assertion that by understanding why they have chosen this way of life it may be possible to encourage such people to use their entrepreneurial skills in a legitimate context thereby reducing recidivism. Based on an epistemological constructivist approach, the methodology used was a phenomenological one and included a moral dilemma, an ethics questionnaire and personal construct psychology linked with case studies. This is a novel approach in that it uses Kelly’s (1955) personal construct theories and repertory grid techniques in order to identify the criminal entrepreneurs’ constructs and the moral stances that they adopt when making sense of their world. The findings showed that moral reasoning theories with respect to offenders do not offer a reliable guide to moral or ethical behaviour and ignore relationships which were an important feature of the criminal entrepreneur’s life. For instance a strong bond was found to exist between some of the respondents and their parents, particularly the mother, and role models were important in their lives. Some cultural differences were detected: West African participants became drugs traffickers because they were seizing an opportunity to be able to provide for their families, whereas those from UK origins tended to come from socially or economically deprived families. It was anticipated that most criminals would reason at the lower levels of Kohlberg’s progressive stages of moral development (Palmer, 2003:100-101) where offending may be justified if punishment can be avoided, but most achieved higher levels (Stages 2 and 3). (At Stage 2 offending is justified if the rewards outweigh the risks and Stage 3 implies that offending is justified if it maintains relationships.) Caring and ambition were important key constructs in making sense of their world, but circumstances such as migrant status, dysfunctional family backgrounds and discrimination meant that they had to apply these constructs in a limited criminal world, rather the broader legitimate one. To use Fisher’s (2006: 205) idea they work in a narrow ethical horizon rather than a broad one. The findings suggest that criminal entrepreneurs have constructs that would be applicable to a legitimate activity and emphasise the need for counselling and seamless mentoring which is currently absent from most prison educational programmes. This thesis contributes to an increased knowledge of entrepreneurial offenders, their beliefs and relationships and offers prison education providers with an enhanced understanding of how to meet their clients’ needs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.B.A.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available