To answer the question, “Can organized crime only exist in a capitalist country?” we have to examine the nature of the economic incentives of criminal organizations. In a capitalist society, the incentives of crime are akin to the incentives of a capitalist economy. However, in a capitalist society, criminal organizations tend to recruit adult members who have acquired specialized skills and social ties through earlier experiences.
According to Williams, organized crime is a form of global conspiracy and cooperative linkages between criminal groups exist around the world. Despite their common aim, these alliances face significant challenges. Their mutual purpose of circumventing law enforcement agencies, for example, may not be shared in all countries. Different criminal cultures may also neutralize this incentive. Moreover, these alliances may have different priorities and cultures.
The study of organized crime has evolved over time. Early studies focused on rural Italian mafia families and Italian-American mafia families. In the 1970s and 1980s, the study of organized crime shifted to transnational organized crime, which involved large-scale drug trafficking, international fraud, human trafficking, and stolen vehicles. Many types of organized crime require both conventional and criminal capital to succeed.
The role of employment in the evolution of organized crime is complex. Kleemans and Van de Bunt analyzed police files for 1,623 offenders from across the world. They found that the criminal activities of these “starters” were embedded in their employment relationships and settings. These studies indicated that professions that provide international contacts and travel opportunities may facilitate criminal activities. They also observed a relationship between the involvement of organized crime and work.