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Organized Crime and Corporate Crime


One of the vice that is prevalent in all societies in the world is crime. This vice is generally associated with negative outcomes for individuals and the society at large. Crimes are violations of the codes and set guidelines that are agreed upon by a society so as to ensure harmonious existence (Gobert and Punch 10). They are illegal activity aimed at gaining and securing wealth and power and in some cases political influence. Crime can be classified in various categories depending on factors such as: scale, the people who engage in the activity and its outcomes to name but a few. Two of the major categories of large scale crime are organized crime and corporate crime. These forms of crime are economic crimes practiced by powerful and sometimes influential parties in the society. They stand out due to the huge impact they have on the economy and lives of individuals. This paper will set out to offer a detailed discussion on corporate and organized crime. Specifically, an in-depth view of the similarities and differences between the two forms of crimes will be given.

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Brief Definitions

Organized crime can be defined as an illegal affair involves the coming together of individuals who interact closely with warm social ties. Members of organized crimes use family connections and status to run their own rackets and a formal hierarch which reflects the various levels of power and specialization is used. There are defined levels of leadership and procedures for possible promotion for excellent member. Positions are normally offered in respect to friendship or skill and rules are strict with repercussions such as death if not followed. Organized crime works primarily to profit from illicit activities that in many cases are in great public demand. This criminal enterprise ensures its continued existence through the use of force and threats and rampant corruption of public officials (Castle 140).

Corporate crime is defined as an “illegal act perpetrated by corporate employees on behalf of the corporation” (Calavita, Pontell and Tillman 81). It involves crimes of fraudulence, concealment, and misrepresentation. Corporate crimes are deemed “corporate” not only because corporate actors are involved but also because the driving force of this crimes is to advance certain corporate interests. Corporate crime is significant in that it can cause considerable harm to employees, markets, governments, the environment and the public (Gobert and Punch 7).

Comparison between Organized and Corporate Crime

Both organized and the corporate crimes are closely related in a number of aspects and form of operations. To begin with, both of them engage in illegal activities and make use of an enterprise model. This differentiates these two forms of crime from street crime since they are formalized and have well defined structures. There is a chain of command followed in organized crime and each member plays a specialized role in the organization. In corporate crime, the employees to the corporation also play well defined roles and follow a well established chain of command (Ramirez 1017). As a result of this high level of organization, both crimes continue to operate even after individual members of the organizations are eliminated.

Corporate and organized crime make use of corruption and violence to ensure their continued success. Calavita et al reveals that an important element of both organized and corporate crime is the continued use of corruption and/or violence to maintain immunity (231). Organized criminals in particular are infamous for their usage of force and corruption to ensure their monopoly in the market and also enforce secrecy among their members. Corporate criminals on the other hand mostly make use of corruption to ensure that the authorities do not interfere with their illegal operations.

In both corporate crime and organized crime, the law enforcement personnel face difficulties in their policing efforts. Crimes which occur inside companies often first come to the attention of internal corporate agents who prefer to use “private justice” system established by the company. In many cases, the police will not be informed since the organization wished to avoid unfavorable publicity (Ramirez 972). In cases where corporate crime comes to the attention of the police and they decide to investigate, their investigating efforts are hampered by reluctant employees and uncooperative corporate officials (Gobert and Punch 10). In the case of organized crime, the members have strict codes of silence and do not cooperate with law enforcement personnel even under the threat of punitive actions.

Both crimes are of great disadvantage to the economical thriving of a society and a major set back on development. A country depends on the corporate society to levy remittances for its operations and the growth of a society is highly depended on the quality of the governing procedures (Ramirez 998). Corporate crime and organized crime results in considerable harm to the market, governments, the environment and the public. Large corporations continue engage in grand scale crimes such as releasing defective, life-threatening products into the marketplace and polluting the environment (Fortunato 56). Organized crimes make it possible for people to access illicit products such as drugs and weapons which harm the society.

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Criminal activities are a hindrance to investments and a major threat to political stability. Organized crime is normally a violent ordeal involving threats and intimidation. With such an environment it is almost impossible for individuals or the corporate community to commit their resources considering the risks involved (Unnever 180). With the corporate criminal activities involving theft in a more professional and less physical model, the implications are equally the same. A country known for corporate fraud will like the above situation attract less investments and business partnerships. Both crimes therefore deter the economic growth of a country by making it hard for it to acquire foreign investment.

There are some common causes for both corporate crime and organized crime. Organized crime is mostly brought about by the feeling of bad governance and corruption. Inequitable distribution of resources can be a major cause of organized crime especially in countries where the gap between the rich and the population living in poverty is significantly huge (Walsh 419). This causes a feeling that the rich are greedy and those living in poverty react negatively in an attempt to reduce the gap to a reasonable margin. In the corporate platform, crime may be result from the antagonism to regulation. Corrupt dealings in the government are a major disappointment to many organizations and hence can prompt disrespect for the governing law. If the law is undermined then business dealings are all illegal hence everything amounts to criminal activity.

Both organized crime and corporate crime may be the result of deeply entrenched traditions. As a result of rampant competition and the need to maintain profitability, some corporations may be predisposed to wrongdoing (Walsh 425). Newcomers in such environment are socialized into engaging in corporate crime so as to survive. Most of the members of organized crime grow up in neighborhoods where they are surrounded by criminals and criminal values. Organized crime is seen as a relatively little risk activity which results in high rewards for the perpetrator.

Research indicates that there is a common factor among the people who engage in both forms of crimes (Hamdani and Alon 300). Corporate crimes are carried out by people who have lower ethical and moral standards. People who participate in corporate crime are mostly unprincipled individuals who are willing to manipulate others for personal gain (Reece 325). The psychological make up of the individual therefore contributes to their involvement in criminal action in both corporate and organized crime.

Differences between Organized and Corporate Crime

A major difference between corporate and organized crime is in the manner in which members of these two groups are created. Corporate criminals exist as a result of the opportunities that are presented to them in the company which is organized around doing legitimate business (Reece 325). Factors such as competitiveness, pressures for results, and antagonism to regulation which characterize the business world contribute to corporate crime. Corporate crime is further enhanced as competition grows within and between corporations. This makes it difficult to attain organizational goals and encourages illegal behavior to attain those goals. Organized crime members on the other hand have to participate in criminal activities and achieve some measure of success before they can become members of such groups (O’Flaherty and Sethi 280). These groups then create more opportunities for the members to engage in criminal activities. Members of organized crime groups such as the Mafia have to demonstrate proven criminal expertise. Walsh best explains the difference by stating that while corporate crime makes a crime out of business, organized crime makes a business out of crime (492).

A significant difference between the two forms of crime is in the social costs that accompany punishment of offenders. In corporate crime, punishments result in a measurable decline in stock value for the firm as a result of criminal sanctions. These sanctions against the firm hurt not only the workers and their families but also the local economies. Gobert and Punch demonstrate that even if a company is convicted of a crime, finding a suitable punishment is problematic (10).Darrly notes that due to the social costs associated with corporate criminal punishment, prosecutors sometimes choose to forgo criminal punishment for civil remedies (34). Such punishments which are aimed at reducing the social harm undermine the enforcement strategies against corporate crime. The prevalence of corporate crime has been attributed to the lenient penalties imposed on perpetrators of this crime. There is little cost associated with punishment of organized criminals. For this reason, law enforcers harshly deal with these offenders since their incarceration makes the community safer.

The policies adopted by enforcement officials in corporate crime and organized crime differ due to the social influence owned by the two classes of crime. Corporate crime is mostly undertaken by people for high social standing and who wield significant influence in the society. For this reason, enforcement officials choose more cooperative, compliance-seeking strategies that are aimed at encouraging law abidingness where corporate crime is concerned (Darrly 35). On the other hand, organized crime is undertaken by individuals with criminal records and of low social standing. Enforcement officials therefore rely on increasingly command and control, punitive-oriented approaches to deter organized crime (Darrly 35).

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While both corporate crime and organized crime associate with public officials, they have differing relationships with these officials. Corporate criminals make use of public officials to facilitate a favorable business climate in which they can operate. Powerful corporations have historically wielded considerable influence over the legislative process and corporations spend significant amount of time and money lobbying government officials. This corporate pressure sometimes results in the prevention of criminalization of some corporate activities. Corporate criminals donate huge sums of money to political parties and activist groups so as to influence the outcome of elections (Fortunato 57).Legislators are therefore likely to accede to corporate interests so as not to jeopardize their campaign budgets (Unnever 173). In contrast to this, organized crime actors do not wield this much power over public officials and most of the activities undertaken by organized criminals has been made criminal with stringent punishments attached to the crimes. The relationship between organized criminals and public officials is therefore meant to protect the criminals from prosecution (Calavita et al. 84). Organized criminals use bribery and coercion to ensure that public officials do not shut down their operations or prosecute them.

The activities that corporate crime and organized crime take part in to produce income differ significantly. Organized crime income is derived mostly from supplying the public with high demand goods and services that are unavailable from the legitimate market. These products include; drugs, prostitutes, and gambling opportunities to name but a few (Territo and Kirkham 32). Scholars suggest that organized crime problems are caused by laws which prevent the public from getting goods and services that they desire and demand (Walsh 492). Corporate crime on the other hand deals with products that are legitimate (Hamdani and Alon 283). However, corporate criminals engage in practices such as supplying consumers with defective or substandard goods and misrepresentation.

Discussion and Conclusion

While organized crime and corporate crime differ in characteristics, they are similar in their mode of operation. The two types of crimes are also pervasive in the society since they offer high incentives of quick monetary gains to the perpetrators. Both crimes are a major concern to the society since they result in negative outcomes. For example in the United States of America, the mafia had greatly paralyzed the economy with the threats and criminal activities it carried out. Corporate crime robs the government of revenue and damages the environment as well as lives of people. The influence that the corporate criminals and organized criminals have over public officials makes it hard to crack down on these two very destructive forms of crime.

This paper set out to discuss corporate and organized crime so as to demonstrate the similarities and differences between the two. To this end, this paper has shown that the two crimes have a number of similarities as well as differences. This paper had revealed that the core of organized crime activity is the supply of illegal high demand goods and services. Corporate crime on the other hand involves illegal activities perpetrated for the advancement of the corporation. Both crimes have many negative effects to the society.

Works Cited

Calavita, Kitty, Pontell Henry, and Tillman Robert. Big money crime: fraud and politics in the savings and loan crisis. California: University of California Press, 1997. Print.

Castle, Allan. “Measuring the impact of law enforcement on organized crime”. Trends Organ Crim 11.1 (2008):135–156. Web.

Darrly, Brown. “Street crime, corporate crime, and the contingency of criminal liability”. University of Pennsylvania Law Review 149.5 (2001): 30-39. Web.

Fortunato, Stephen. “Corporate Crime and Voting Rights”. Dissent 43.4 (2002): 56-61. Web.

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Gobert, James, and Punch Maurice. Rethinking corporate crime. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print.

Hamdani, Assaf, and Alon Klement. “Corporate crime and deterrence”. Stanford Law Review 16.2 (2008): 271-310. Web.

O’Flaherty, Brendan, and Sethi Rajiv. “The racial geography of street vice”. Journal of Urban Economics 67.3 (2010): 270–286. Web.

Ramirez, Mary. “Prioritizing justice: Combating corporate crime from task force to top priority”. Marquette Law Review 23.3 (2010): 971-1019. Web. 6 Jan. 2012.

Reece, Walters. “Bhopal, Corporate Crime and Harms of the Powerful”. Global Social Policy 9.3 (2009): 324-327. Web.

Territo, Leonard, and Kirkham George. International Sex Trafficking of Women & Children: Understanding the Global Epidemic. New York: Looseleaf Law Publications, 2010. Print.

Unnever, James. “Public Support for Getting Tough on Corporate Crime”. Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency 45.2 (2008): 163-190. Web.

Walsh, Anthony. Overview – Introduction to Criminology. Boston: Sage Publications, 2008. Print.

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