Vertical organizations, flat networks: Centrality and criminal collaboration in the Italian-American Mafia

Andrew T. Krajewski, Daniel DellaPosta, Diane Felmlee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While criminal organizations often feature hierarchical positions, scholars debate the extent to which networks of informal collaboration among criminals reflect such hierarchies. This research uses historical data on collaboration involving more than 700 criminals across 24 Italian-American Mafia families and applies network regression models and simulations to determine whether mafiosi of similar centrality-based status were more likely to be criminal associates than mafiosi of dissimilar status. Rather than forming vertical collaborations linking mafia members into a centralized, hierarchical network structure, we find that mafiosi collaborated disproportionately more with colleagues of similar status. While network centrality predicted tie formation, formal rank in an organizational chart generally did not. Knowledge simply of a covert organization's formal structure may not translate to understanding “on-the-ground” collaborations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-138
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Networks
Volume68
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Psychology(all)

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