Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



International Relations

First Advisor

Nicholas R. Smith

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Kucik


Crime, Organized, Transitions


This paper will illustrate the correlation between democratic and market economy transitions and the increase of organized crime. This correlation exists despite the differences in political system prior to the democratic transition. What matters the most is that these transitions either occur at the same time or within a short window of time. Organized criminal groups thrive in unstable and failed states because of the lack of government and law enforcement interference in their illegal activities. However, these groups can also make a home in countries that have relatively short periods of transition between political and economic systems, despite the stability of the resulting State. This is because countries undergoing political and economic transformations often host new economic incentives for criminal groups to conduct activities that have not yet been regulated by the government or activities that have already been made illegal, but the weakened capacity of the state makes it difficult to punish these crimes. I will employ a case study of organized crime in Italy, Russia and Japan to show the commonalities in the conditions surrounding the development of these groups from small criminal gangs to more organized criminal enterprises. I have found that the increase of organized crime in these countries led to an increase in corruption of the government and business elite which undermined the rule of law and created inefficiencies in the democratic system and the economy. These inefficiencies were then exploited by organized crime groups for their own economic benefits.



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