Organization Management Journal


Employee theft is one of the most harmful crimes a small business can experience. Yet despite the large financial, organizational, and emotional toll employee theft takes, it is one of the most underreported crimes committed against small businesses. Using data obtained from interviews with victimized small business owners, this article develops a typology of employee theft nonreporting rationalizations. Additionally, interview data indicate that nonreporting rationalizations follow a general pattern of use, beginning with an assessment of the theft as trivial or significant, and proceeding to a consideration of personal factors that influence nonreporting, which is followed by a consideration of the effectiveness of previous interactions with the criminal justice system. Understanding how these rationalizations influence reporting behavior may assist scholars and practitioners to help small businesses better deal with their employee theft experiences, and may also help to explain why employee thefts will likely continue to be underreported.