Organized crime and the visible hand: a theoretical critique on the economic analysis of organized crime

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Abstract

The illegal enterprise-model has become very popular in the research of organized crime. However, the theoretical foundations of the economic analysis of organized crime can be criticized in a fundamental way, since two key explanatory principles, the model of 'homo economicus' and 'efficient markets', do not seem to fit the empirical phenomena to be explained. The shortcomings of the economic approach are demonstrated by presenting findings from the Dutch Organized Crime Monitor, an ongoing research project based upon systematic analysis of closed, extensive police investigations into 120 cases of organized crime. These findings highlight social embeddedness (also in cases of transnational organized crime), social relations, work relations, leisure activities and sidelines and life events shaping involvement in organized crime and developments in criminal careers, and manipulation and violence embedded in social relations. The latter demonstrate that offender behaviour is not so much driven by market mechanisms (or the 'invisible hand'), but rather by the 'visible hand' of social relations, and the 'visible hand' of manipulation and violence. © The Author(s) 2012.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-629
JournalCriminology & Criminal Justice
Volume13
Issue number5
Early online date15 Nov 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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