Fraud dynamics and controls in organizations

Jon S. Davis, Heather L. Pesch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper develops an agent-based model to examine the emergent dynamic characteristics of fraud in organizations. In the model, individual heterogeneous agents, each of whom can have motive and opportunity to commit fraud and a pro-fraud attitude, interact with each other. This interaction provides a mechanism for cultural transmission through which attitudes regarding fraud can spread. Our benchmark analysis identifies two classes of organizations. In one class, we observe fraud tending toward a stable level. In the other class, fraud dynamics are characterized by extreme behaviors; organizations with mostly honest behavior suddenly change their state to mostly fraudulent behavior and vice versa. These changes seem to occur randomly over time. We then modify our model to examine the effects of various mechanisms thought to impact fraud in organizations. Each of these mechanisms has different impacts on the two classes of organizations in our benchmark model, with some mechanisms being more effective in organizations exhibiting stable levels of fraud and other mechanisms being more effective in organizations exhibiting unstable extreme behavior. Our analysis and results have general implications for designing programs aimed at preventing fraud and for fraud risk assessment within the audit context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-483
Number of pages15
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Issue number6-7
StatePublished - Aug 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Information Systems and Management


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