Mafia protection in legal markets: An analytical framework and empirical evidence from Lombardy (Italy)
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Mafias have been expanding outside their original homelands for several decades, penetrating both legal and illegal markets. Existing literature has explored the push and pull factors that underpin the movement and successful transplantation of mafia organizations, but less attention has been devoted to specify the mechanisms through which penetration takes place - especially in legal markets - and to empirically ground these mechanisms through a mixed-method approach. Starting with these premises, the article has two objectives. First, it explores the link between the type of legal markets and the presence of mafia activities in a given territory, focusing empirically on the Northern Italian region of Lombardy. Through quantitative analysis conducted at the municipal level in Lombardy, the article shows that mafias' activities in a territory tend to be correlated with the presence of relatively large markets in the construction, transport, and bars and restaurants economic sectors. Second, the article introduces a framework to describe the «services» that mafia organizations provide to entrepreneurs. Starting from the concept of «protection» (the basic service provided by mafias), three key activities are identified: business development, the ability to limit market competition, and extra-legal enforcement and resolution of controversies. It also shows empirically - through qualitative analysis based on judicial material emerging from investigations conducted in Lombardy over more than a decade - how these three types of services function in practice. The article finally suggests directions for advancing research on the topic and to analyse more thoroughly the impact of organized crime on market functioning.
- Economic Sociology
- Shadow Economy
- Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law