Models of Organized Crime

This executive summary targets to define, compare, and contrast the main types of organized crime groups. These, according to Abadinsky (2009), can be divided into two models: patron-client and bureaucratic.

These two models are similar in several important characteristics. Firstly, they are both organized in a hierarchical way, thus the orders are given vertically from the top down. Secondly, they have exclusive and very limited membership, which ensures their protection from intruders. And thirdly, their functioning is governed by a set of strict rules and regulation.

Despite these similarities, patron-client and bureaucratic models differ in several crucial aspects.

The patron-client model is characterized by a close connection between the individuals involved. This especially holds true for the top levels. The members can be related by blood, belong to one community or share a common background. The inner law that they abide by is often unwritten and is grounded on tradition, respect and loyalty. Albini (1971) gives American Mafia as a classic example of this criminal model.

Bureaucratic model in a way mirrors the organization of a state. Its ultimate goal is to achieve optimum efficiency. Such organization functions following many written rules and regulations. Even orders from one level to another are usually passed in a written form. Another characteristic feature of this type of organization is that each member has some specialization according to his or her qualifications. This means that the relation between members is impersonal.

The understanding of the fundamental difference between the two types is very important, because it is crucial for fighting them. As the connection between the members of the patron-client organization is not purely functional, this model is most vulnerable at the lowest levels. The higher the level, the stronger is the bond that links the members. Unlike the patron-client, the bureaucratic model is based on functionality and efficiency, that is why members of different levels may be targeted.

All in all, although being similar in some structural characteristics, patron-client and bureaucratic models are different in the type of connection that holds the organizations together, and the principles, on which they are based.

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