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EXECUTIVES SHARE PUBLIC CONCERNS ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME BUT DIFFER ON QUESTION OF LIABILITY

 EXECUTIVES SHARE PUBLIC CONCERNS ABOUT ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME
 BUT DIFFER ON QUESTION OF LIABILITY
 CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Feb. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Eighty three percent of U.S. corporate executives believe that causing damage to the environment is a serious crime, while only 49 percent believe they should be held personally liable for such an offense, according to a recent survey commissioned by Arthur D. Little, the international management, technology, and environmental, health and safety consulting firm.
 This survey follows an earlier poll that determined the general public's opinion about environmental crimes. In the earlier survey, 84 percent of the U.S. public felt that causing environmental damage was a serious crime, and 75 percent believed that executives should be held personally liable.
 The Arthur D. Little survey asked executives to rate how seriously authorities should consider various business offenses: insider trading, price-fixing or anti-trust violations, violating worker health and safety regulations, and causing environmental damage. In addition, respondents were asked, "If a corporation caused damage to the environment, should top executives be held personally liable?"
 Unlike the general public, which rated environmental offenses as much more serious than the other business offenses, corporate executives considered the other business offenses as comparably serious. Eighty-five percent of the executives polled rated price-fixing as a serious crime, 81 percent rated worker health and safety violations as a serious crime, and 80 percent rated insider trading as a serious crime.
 "It's not surprising that executives are less likely to embrace personal liability than the general public is to impose it," said Stewart Young, a director in Arthur D. Little's Environmental, Health and Safety Consulting Practice. "In fact, we were expecting a greater disparity in these opinions. The fact that nearly half of this sample believes that executives should be held personally liable for environmental offenses suggests that many business leaders understand that they work under a microscope and are increasingly accountable for their own actions -- or inactions. Moreover, these executives are equally concerned about a broad range of potential malfeasance -- not just the highly visible consequences of a catastrophic incident, which the general public ranked as far more serious than so-called paper crimes like price fixing."
 According to Young, the challenge for business executives is to reconcile their company's standards and goals with public expectations. "It is imperative that industry understands public opinion and acts accordingly. The best-case scenario is one in which industry accepts a leadership role in determining acceptable business practices."
 The telephone survey, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation of Princeton, N.J., consisted of a nationally representative sample of 500 executives drawn from the 1,000 largest manufacturing companies; the 100 largest commercial banking, diversified financial, and diversified service companies; and the 50 largest utilities, transportation, merchandising, and life insurance companies. The survey also included a cross section of job types, including officers, nonofficers reporting to officers, managers reporting to nonofficers, and job functions, including financial, manufacturing, marketing, general management, and personnel. All figures are accurate to approximately 5 percent.
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 NOTE: Summaries of the executive survey and the general public survey with more detailed data tabulations are available.
 -0- 2/10/92
 /CONTACT: David Kitchen of Arthur D. Little, 617-864-5770/ CO: Arthur D. Little ST: Massachusetts IN: SU:


TM-SH -- NE001 -- 8097 02/10/92 08:01 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 10, 1992
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