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How Do Mafias Organize?: Conflict and Violence in Three Mafia Organizations

  • Maurizio Catino (a1)

This article looks at three Italian mafia organizations (Cosa Nostra, Camorra, and ‘Ndrangheta). It applies an organizational approach to the understanding of violence in mafia organizations by studying the relationship between their organizational orders and their criminal behavior. The article identifies two different organizational orders, vertical and horizontal, and demonstrates that Italian mafias, although operating in similar environments, can greatly differ from each other, and over time, in terms of their organizational model. Findings suggest that mafias with a vertical organizational order, due to the presence of higher levels of coordination, (1) have greater control over conflict, as proved by the lower number of “ordinary” murders; and (2) have greater capacity to fight state repression, as testified by the greater number of “high-profile” assassinations (e.g. politicians, magistrates, and other institutional members) that they carry out. Evidence is provided using a mixed-methods approach that combines a qualitative, organizational analysis of historical and judiciary sources, in order to reconstruct the organizational models and their evolution over time, with a quantitative analysis of assassination trends, in order to relate organizational orders to the use of violence.

Cet article analyse trois organisations mafieuses italiennes (Cosa Nostra, Camorra, and ‘Ndrangheta) et rend compte de la relation entre les structures organisationnelles et les comportements criminels. Nous identifions deux structures principales, verticale et horizontale, et démontrons que les mafias italiennes, bien qu’opérant dans des environnements similaires, peuvent se différencier significativement les unes des autres en termes de modèle organisationnel. Les résultats suggèrent que les mafias disposant d’une structure verticale, en raison d’un niveau élevé de coordination, (1) possèdent une maîtrise du conflit plus élevé, comme cela est démontré par le nombre limité de crimes « ordinaires » ; et (2) possèdent une plus grande capacité à combattre la répression de l’Etat, comme cela est démontré par le nombre important d’assassinats commis sur des personnalités publiques (ex. des politiciens, magistrats et autres représentants institutionnels). L’article mobilise une méthode mixte qui combine une analyse qualitative de sources judiciaire et historique, afin de reconstruire les structures organisationnelles et leur évolution dans le temps, avec une analyse quantitative des évolutions criminelles de façon à lier les structures organisationnelles à l’usage de la violence.

Dieser Beitrag beschäftigt sich mit drei italienischen Mafia-Organisationen (Cosa Nostra, Camorra und Ndrangheta) und verwendet einen strukturellen Ansatz, um die Gewalt in Mafia-Kartellen zu verstehen, wobei das Verhältnis zwischen mafiöser Ordnung und kriminellem Verhalten untersucht wird. Zwei Hauptstrukturen, vertikal und horizontal, lassen sich erkennen und obwohl italienische Mafias im gleichen Umfeld handeln, können sie sich deutlich in ihrem strukturellen Aufbau unterscheiden. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass Mafias mit einer vertikalen Struktur aufgrund ihres hohen Koordinationsniveaus, 1. besser Konfliktsituationen beherrschen, wie die begrenzte Zahl „gewöhnlicher“ Morde verdeutlicht, und 2. besser der Staatsrepression standhalten, wie die zahlreichen Ermordungen öffentlicher Persönlichkeiten zeigen (z.B. Politiker, Richter und andere Vertreter öffentlicher Einrichtungen). Der Aufsatz stützt sich auf eine gemischte Methode, die die qualitative Analyse juristischer und historischer Quellen kreuzt, um die Organisationsstrukturen und deren Entwicklung im Laufe der Zeit zu rekonstruieren, gekoppelt mit einer quantitativen Analyse der kriminellen Entwicklungen, um die Organisationsstruktur dem Gebrauch der Gewalt zuordnen zu können.

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