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Research in Focus

Project on Economic and Industrial Espionage:

The threat posed by economic and industrial espionage, not to mention the associated material and immaterial damages it can cause, have increasingly received the attention of politicians and industry representatives. Nevertheless, up-to-date research is lacking at both an inter­national and national level. To expand knowledge in this field, the Institute’s Department of Criminology is currently conducting a project on Economic and Industrial Espionage in Germany and Europe (WiSKoS). Recognizing the project’s subject and relevance, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, via its funding program "Research for Civil Security", is providing approximately half a million euros in support. The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, the Federal Criminal Police Office, the State Criminal Police Office of Baden-Wuerttemberg, and the Saxon Police College are also involved in the research collaboration.

The module-based project focuses on the legal and statistical comparison of the current threat level of victimization for European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Another exploratory focus assesses the particular protective needs of scientific organizations.

The methodically and thematically multifaceted inquiry aims to sensitize SMEs and scientific organizations about espionage in all its facets. It also seeks to analyze and optimi­ze cooperative structures amongst victimized companies and/or organizations on the one hand and the competent political and/or legal authorities on the other.

The results of each of the three project phases (country screening, multi-level evaluation, extended survey of unreported crime) will be published as separate monographies. The ultimate goal of WiSKoS is to create three manuals covering the particular needs of the stakeholders (authorities, scientific organizations, and SMEs) in order to improve cooperation and prevention.

The project has already resulted in several publications and presentations, e.g.:

  • Bollhöfer, E., Jäger, A. (2018): Wirtschafts­spionage und Konkurrenz­aus­spähung – Vorfälle und Prävention bei KMU im Zeitalter der Digitalisierung, series "Working Papers", 84 p.
  • Carl, S., Kilchling, M., Knickmeier, S. & Wallwaey, E. (2017): Wirt­schaftsspionage und Konkurrenzausspähung in Deutschland und Europa, series "research in brief | forschung aktuell", 137 p.
  • Carl, S. (2017): An unacknowledged crisis – economic and industrial espionage in Europe, in: Spinellis et al. (eds.): Europe in Crisis: crime, criminal justice and the way forward, p. 755-761.
  • Kilchling, M. & Carl, S. (2016): Wirtschaftsspionage und Konkur­renz­ausspähung in Deutschland und Europa (WiSKoS), in: P. Zoche, S. Kaufmann & H. Arnold (eds.): Grenzenlose Sicherheit? Gesellschaftliche Dimensionen der Sicherheitsforschung, p. 183-196.

Further publications are in preparation.

Latest Publication

Prosecuting Serious Economic Crimes as International Crimes

A New Mandate for the ICC?

Sunčana Roksandić Vidlička

529 pages; Berlin, 2017.

Serious economic crimes and violations of economic, social and cultural rights have often been neglected in criminal proceedings and reports of truth commissions that have followed in the wake of economic transitions or conflicts. Although such economic crimes often result in a substantial loss of wealth to the overall economy and society of the country in question, they have not been widely nor effectively prosecuted. The Balkan region is no exception to this rule.
The study connects international criminal law with discourses of international human rights law, security studies, (supranational) criminology, political sciences, transitional justice and (economic) criminal law in order to find arguments as to why it is necessary to start prosecuting serious (transitional) economic offences as crimes under international law and why they should find their place in the ICC Statute. The research explains why Art. 7(1)(k) of the ICC Statute is the most plausible means to do so without violating the principle of legality.

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  • Last update: 4 January 2019
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