PhD Candidate Develops Innovative, Interdisciplinary Dissertation Project

Jay Kennedy


By:  Mary Kay Meier, CECH Communications Intern


Jay Kennedy receives distinguished fellowship to complete dissertation involving the School of Criminal Justice and the Lindner College of Business


Criminal Justice doctoral candidate, Jay P. Kennedy, was awarded one of six University of Cincinnati Graduate School Distinguished Dissertation Completion Fellowships for his innovative and first-ever, interdisciplinary dissertation involving the School of Criminal Justice and the Goering  Center for Family and Private Business in the Lindner College of Business.

Known by his colleagues for his creative thinking, work ethic, and strong initiative, Kennedy developed a unique project that studies how the opportunity for theft develops within small businesses in the greater Cincinnati metropolitan area.

“Kennedy’s dissertation is one that will yield invaluable data in a much under-researched area,” Distinguished Research Professor Francis T. Cullen, PhD explained.  “White-collar or ‘occupational crimes’ are often hidden from view and perpetrators are quite good at concealing them. These violations have an enormous cost to society and, yet, little is known about how to prevent them.”

Criminal Justice professor, Michael Benson,  added, “Kennedy’s corporate experience combined with solid criminology credentials in teaching, research, and publications will provide an interesting perspective on both business and white collar crime. Kennedy has a strong interest in the intersection of business ethics with corporate crime and deviance.”

Kennedy will work directly with the Goering Center and the Center for Criminal Justice Research to collect new and relevant data and to develop educational materials and workshops about crime prevention strategies for small businesses in the Cincinnati region. His research will use a mixed method approach to data collection, supported by theories of situational crime prevention and criminal opportunity theory, to determine how structural factors of small businesses relate to the development of opportunities for employee theft. This innovative approach differs from traditional studies that typically examine what factors within an employee might lead them to engage in theft in small businesses.  

Kennedy, who recently completed his MBA at UC, acknowledged that earning two degrees in two different disciplines has helped him become more keenly aware of how beneficial the integration of knowledge from the fields of criminal justice, organizational behavior, and business ethics can help scholars from each field understand the nature of corporate crime.

To reach his goal of establishing and building collaborative approaches for understanding this criminal research, theory, and thinking, Kennedy coordinated a successful panel discussion at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology last November.  The panel included top scholars in criminal justice, business ethics, and business law and resulted in acknowledgment of the importance of future multidisciplinary forums.   The American Bar Association (ABA) requested a synopsis and included it on the ABA website.