The responsibilization paradox: The legal route from deresponsibilization to systemic corruption in the Australian financial sector

Lorenzo Pasculli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Recent corruption scandals suggest that the legal structures developed to responsibilize corporations might paradoxically enable the systematization of corruption across entire industry sectors. This study uses grounded theory methodology to develop a preliminary theoretical model of the correlations between the law, responsibilization, and the causes of systemic corruption. Through a qualitative examination of documental evidence from the case study of the recent Australian banking scandal, this article conceptualizes a two-way process of ‘legal deresponsibilization’. On the one hand, legal dysfunctions fail to effectively support the situational and cultural goals of responsibilization. On the other hand, the pursuit of such goals transforms the law in ways that can lead to the deresponsibilization of both corporations and the state. The article suggests that structural reforms are needed to correct this process and the underlying systemic imbalances between the legal promotion of financial interests and that of countervailing values of integrity and accountability.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberpaab068
Pages (from-to)2114-2132
Number of pages19
JournalPolicing: A Journal of Policy and Practice.
Issue number4
Early online date9 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Policing: a Journal of Policy and Practice following peer review. The version of record [insert complete citation information here] is available online at:

Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.

This document is the author’s post-print version, incorporating any revisions agreed during the peer-review process. Some differences between the published version and this version may remain and you are advised to consult the published version if you wish to cite from it.


  • Corruption
  • Business Ethics
  • Company Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Lawmaking
  • Financial regulation
  • Banking industry
  • Financial services
  • Financial crime
  • Fraud

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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