DETECTION AND PREVENTION OF WHITE COLLAR CRIMES IN an Oil and Gas Company (XYZ Nigeria Limited) in Nigeria

Dissertation Proposal

1) Subject Area: Criminology
2) Working Title: Detection and prevention of white collar crimes in the oil and gas industry, with a special focus on XYZ Nigeria Limited
3) Brief Synopsis:

Corporate scandals such as Enron’s white collar crimes have dire consequences and their prevalence erodes creditors, shareholders and the public’s confidence in the financial system and business enterprises. These crimes are usually perpetrated by insiders (employees and management), hence the need to study them to help prevent recurrence.

4) Aims of the Research:

The main aim of this study is to deliver empirical evidence on the plausibility of utilizing fraud hypothesis approach in order to detect fraud. The principal methodology to be utilized in this study is the use of actual operating information from big oil and gas companies in Nigeria where white-collar crime has not yet been discovered on a grand scale.

The research objectives are:
1.​To identify the activities and organizational cultures that lead to the existence of white-collar crime in the oil and gas industry.
2.​Describing the preventive measures that stakeholders in the oil and gas industry should take in order to prevent white-collar crimes.
3.​Identify the measures that will aid early detection of white-collar crime.
5) Area of interest and problem to be studied:

The objective of this study is to investigate the operations of the oil and gas industry especially in a country such as Nigeria, with particular focus on company XYZ Nigeria Limited; and identify the possible loop holes in the system that makes it easy for company employees to commit white collar crimes. As white collar crimes are committed by relatively wealthy individuals, the oil and gas industry provides the best backdrop for this study, as the industry employees are some of the best remunerated in Nigeria. Also, as most governments usually focus their attention on other more visible forms of crime, this implies that they are not privy to what goes on in the oil and gas industry with respect to white collar crimes. Finally, most of these companies portray themselves as good social and corporate citizens, hence, they usually try to maintain a low profile and shy away from any negative publicity, therefore they, will usually not prosecute employees who have committed white collar crimes, but rather use internal procedures to discharge such employees from their services.

To help identify the magnitude of white collar crimes in the oil and gas industry, the following question will be the focus of this study:

•​How can white-collar crime be prevented and minimized in the oil and gas industry? How can white collar crimes be minimized in Company XYZ Nigeria Limited?

6) Locating the problem in the literature:
This study aims to do a detailed review of the available literature, which based on preliminary analysis, appears to be considerable on white collar crimes in general, but limited, especially on the prevalence in the oil and gas industry.

Some of the issues to be investigated further are the role of organizational structures in promoting white collar crimes, the role of wealth in perpetrating white collar crimes, the role of governments and the judicial system, structures and applicable punishment for perpetrators. Also, the role of the companies in reporting and persecuting offenders as well as the rationale for the prevalence among company employees and management rather than in collusion with external parties to the company.

7) The analytical framework:

This research will be done in two parts – one will focus on the review of existing literature while the other will focus on the use of questionnaires and focus groups.

Analyzing of the past literature studies to facilitate understanding, their relevance and applicability of their conclusions. This will involve the use of secondary data; hence, qualitative data analysis will be used in order to arrive at conclusions and recommendations.

While for the questionnaires and focus groups the use of quantitative as well as qualitative analysis will be used

Some of the expected findings of this research are the role of complex company structure; complex relationships between diverse stakeholders; the relationship between reward incentives and motivation of employees versus corporate structure and executive behavior; the central role of executive management; etcetera, all have on perpetrating white collar crimes

8) Proposed Chapters:
The below highlights the possible titles and sequences that will be used to document the outcomes of this research.

Introduction: This will be an introduction to the topic, detailing why the study is relevant and the aims of the research.
Background: This will give a brief background of the oil and gas industry, its relevance to a country such as Nigeria and hence the importance and/or relevance of this study to the economy of such a country.
Past research: this will look at existing literature, to review what has been done previously, what is lacking, what still need to be done and how the lessons learnt from the past analysis can be used in the modern day oil and gas companies to detect and prevent white collar crimes.
Methodology: This will explain in detail the chosen methodology for conducting this research and why these have been selected as the best methods based on past literature and access to the various sources of data and company personnel.
Analysis: This will provide a detailed overview of both the primary and secondary data collected. The analysis of the data using thematic analysis, to identify major areas of focus, followed by further analysis to identify the various ways of detecting and preventing white collar crimes in the oil and gas industry.
Conclusion: This will put together the various findings and learnings form conducting the research, with a brief overview of the recommendations applicable to the oil and gas industry in detecting and preventing white collar crimes.
Further studies: At the end of the study, the researcher aims to identify possible gaps still available in both the existing literature and as a result of the limitations of this study to propose areas of further study to intending researchers.
9) Methodology:

Given the significance of the subject and the scarcity of previous studies on the topic, this study will utilize both qualitative and quantitative research designs. This will ensure that the study combines the benefits of both research methods. However, qualitative methods will be utilized sparingly in accordance to the resources available. This has been selected as the best method of data collection, because mixed methods help to increase the accuracy of research findings and the level of confidence in the results.

Qualitative research will be used to analyze data for the first research question. Two of the primary methods to be utilized are questionnaires and brainstorming. Brainstorming refers to an individual or group creativity technique of gathering a catalogue of spontaneous ideas contributed by members of the group or individually in order to come up with a solution for a given problem. This mechanism is crucial since it offers a number of feasible ideas. The analysis of each idea’s strengths and weaknesses will assist the researcher to conclude on the most viable choice.

The study will select the most feasible ideas through secondary research. Secondary research involves the summary, synthesis and collation of existing research, as opposed to conducting primary research. Secondary research will be significant in order to identify the most likely means of early crime detection. Since secondary research involves the input of other individuals, it offers rich information that will indicate the most suitable ways of detecting and preventing white-collar crimes in the oil and gas industry. The benefits for this study include the allowance for a broad study involving a bigger number of subjects. This will enhance the generalization of the results, in order to respond to the research questions and offer guidance for future research. It will also allow the researcher to summarize immense sources of data and expedite comparisons across categories over time. This design method will allow the researcher to avoid personal bias since he does not gain adjacency to the participating subjects as compared to qualitative research design.

Focus groups are another means of data collection for qualitative research, it is a method where a group of individuals are asked about their opinions, perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards a given product, service or activity. Each focus group should contain a maximum of ten individuals. These individuals will assist the researcher to understand the various dealings that take place in the oil and gas industry. The use of focus groups as a source of information is paramount since it results in gathering extensive data that will be insightful during analysis. One-on-one interviews will also be significant in collecting data for qualitative analysis. This mechanism indicates that the researcher will conduct interviews with a sample of respondents selected from the population. The sample will be selected using a random sampling method of picking random respondents without replacement. However, the sample size must be significant to alleviate substantial bias during analysis. This research design has its benefits, as well as shortcomings. One of the benefits of this research design is that it delves deeper than just analysing counts and ranks. This indicates that it provides detail and depth. It also simulates the respondents’ individual experiences and tries to avoid pre-judgments. Shortcomings include time taken to conduct the research. Collection of qualitative data is more time-consuming than quantitative data collection. It is also extremely difficult to make systematic comparisons. This is so since the respondents may provide widely differing responses that are considerably subjective. The success in using this research design also depends on the skills of the researcher.

For this study, XYZ organization will be approached for access to their staff to form 3-6 focus groups of 10 persons maximum per focus group. The selected individuals must have knowledge of potential white collar crimes that can occur in the industry. Another set of 200 staff (from different departments / units) will be issued questionnaires to collect data as well.

10) Ethical Considerations:

This research will involve collecting data from individuals selected using the sampling method described earlier. However, it is paramount to outline the potential ethical issues that may be involved during the study. The study will select a sample of respondents from organizations within the oil and gas industry. This observation indicates that some of the employees may provide unverifiable results that may affect the credibility of the overall research.

The employees within the organization are charged with the responsibility of undertaking positive activities for the organizations. Giving negative responses about their organizations therefore present ethical concerns for this study. However, in order to minimize these ethical concerns, the research will include a disclaimer that will indicate that the study was conducted to the best of the researchers’ ability and capacity. The research questionnaire will also include a statement that all responses will be confidential.

Other anticipated ethical issues include difficulty in gaining access to the participants and also obtaining enough responses from the questionnaires.

The use of secondary data also involves ethical concerns since the use of some secondary data may not be verifiable given the time allocated for this study.

It is better to use primary sources for key theories, rather than secondary sources and all these should be properly cited
Further Instructions:

In order for a good report to be achieved the following areas need great attention.
1. The title, abstract aims and objectives must be reflected in the work as a whole to ensure that the dissertation holds together.
2. The research instrument must be suitable for the hoped for research outcomes, and carefully designed to ensure that not only the method meets the need for qualitative or quantitative outcomes, but also that the questions are appropriately worded to draw clear, usable and appropriate responses. Clearly the chosen methods are a matter for you, but you should consider the implications of open-ended questions in self-administered questionnaires carefully. Gilbert’s book Researching Social Life may be able to help here.
3. You must show that you have clear knowledge and understanding of the theory of social science research, including validity, reliability, sampling and measurement. Your practical knowledge and understanding should be supported with appropriately cited theory. You need to show why you picked the methods you did, and it often helps to detail why other methods were deemed unsuitable.
4. The theoretical concepts you detail must then be linked with the research outcomes. So from X research analysis you can show that Y theory applies – or not.
5. Case studies are acceptable, but they should not form the bulk of the dissertation because they run the risk of dominating the work and turning a dissertation – a vehicle for conveying your own social science research – into an essay, which is a critical evaluation and analysis of existing theory and evidence. If you use X as a case study then the links to Y must be thoroughly and compellingly made out.

The dissertation will show demonstrate of research skills, powers of critical analysis and ability to write. A well-executed dissertation will:

•​ask interesting questions
•​investigate clearly thought-out themes
•​make thorough use of available resources
•​reach thoughtful and relevant conclusions
•​be well written; and
•​be clearly structured

Please examine academic debates critically and demonstrate ability to interpret data and relate them to a research problem.

There are a number of distinct elements which must be evident . These include:

• the exploration of the relevant literature
• a critical and focused in-depth examination of the literature
• the construction of research aims and objectives, and the clear definition of the research problem
• data collection
• the analysis and interpretation of the data collected within the framework chosen and showing a clear understanding of the findings
• the development of own argument through new understanding of the chosen topic

Should aim to use the material gathered to question and possibly modify original framework or even develop a new one according to findings. This will clearly require a critical approach

Findings should aim to persuade others to think in a new way or to re-examine this issue in a fresh light
The introduction should:
•​discuss the issue/problem which the research addresses
•​provide a brief rationale for the study
•​place the research in its social, economic and political context
•​outline the argument you are going to pursue; and
•​provide a brief account of the content of the dissertation chapters

The main body of the dissertation should consist of a number of chapters which develop the topic, identify and discuss the chosen methodology and analyze and interpret the findings.

Try, to keep all your chapters approximately the same length.

There should be a frequent reminder for readers where particular points fit into the overall argument.

The conclusion should:
•​summarise the main points made
•​relate these points back to the original argument and theoretical discussion
•​locate the findings in the broader context of the subject area; and
•​evaluate the research findings in terms of their validity and reliability

All chapters require a conclusion.

It is very important that the chosen research methods within the relevant literature be grounded on theory and practice. So, please discuss the theoretical tradition from which the adopted method emerged and critically analyze its effectiveness at meeting its objectives. Please, remember to justify why the research has been conducted in the way it has been conducted and the problems which arose with the approach.

Findings must not simply be produced without any discussion or interpretation. It is, important to draw out the themes of the research and discuss some possible interpretations and consequences of the findings. This will provide the essential ingredients of interpretation and critical analysis. Only relevant data which are relevant to the argument should be included.