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An Interdisciplinary Approach to White-collar Crime in the Food Sector


  • Hirschauer, Norbert
  • Musshoff, Oliver
  • Scheerer, Sebastian


The probability that buyers are deceived with regard to the quality or safety of purchased products (moral hazard) increases with the profits which suppliers can earn through opportunistic behaviour. It decreases with the probability and level of losses that result from disclosure of malpractice. It also decreases with protective factors rooted in the suppliers' social contexts - such as values, emotional bonds etc. - that shield them from yielding to economic temptations. This paper describes how a systematic analysis of economic incentives and social context factors can be provided through an interdisciplinary approach which combines the analytical powers of microeconomics (game theory) and criminology (control theories). The approach is discussed with regard to food quality and safety threatened by moral hazard. Its essentials are illustrated through a case study of grain farmers who might be tempted to infringe upon production-related regulations.

Suggested Citation

  • Hirschauer, Norbert & Musshoff, Oliver & Scheerer, Sebastian, 2006. "An Interdisciplinary Approach to White-collar Crime in the Food Sector," 2006 Annual Meeting, August 12-18, 2006, Queensland, Australia 25688, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:iaae06:25688

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hirschauer, Norbert, 2004. "A model-based approach to moral hazard in food chains - What contribution do principal-agent-models make to the understanding of food risks induced by opportunistic behaviour?," German Journal of Agricultural Economics, Humboldt-Universitaet zu Berlin, Department for Agricultural Economics, vol. 53(5).
    2. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1987. "The Causes and Consequences of the Dependence of Quality on Price," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 1-48, March.
    3. S. Andrew Starbird, 2005. "Moral Hazard, Inspection Policy, and Food Safety," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 87(1), pages 15-27.
    4. John A. Fox & David A. Hennessy, 1999. "Cost-Effective Hazard Control in Food Handling," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 81(2), pages 359-372.
    5. Demski, Joel S. & Sappington, David, 1984. "Optimal incentive contracts with multiple agents," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 152-171, June.
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    More about this item


    asymmetric information; behavioural food risks; control theories; game theory; moral hazard; opportunistic malpractice; Agribusiness; Institutional and Behavioral Economics; A13; K32; K42;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • K32 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Energy, Environmental, Health, and Safety Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law


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