Informations and abstract
Keywords: Economic Sociology; Shadow Economy; Corruption; Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law.
Relations with external individuals define organizations as much as their internal structures and members. Individuals formally external to the organizational structure can play a major role, especially within criminal organizations. In the mafias, members' low human capital is balanced with their ability to cooperate with individuals who have specific professional skills, such as accountants, police officers, and politicians. Drawing information on almost 40 recent investigations on mafia networks in Northern Italy, this paper analyses the profile and activities of the professionals involved in mafias' illicit business. All 60 identified professionals acted as either knowledge brokers (i.e. connecting mafiosi with the individuals needed to pursue their illicit goals), knowledge providers (i.e. providing mafiosi with the technical skills necessary for certain criminal activities), or both. These white collars are particularly crucial in the settlement of mafias outside of their territories of origin. Knowledge brokers and providers indeed reduce the cost of information for the mafias, which in turn allows them to proliferate in new territories. The paper concludes by underlying how mafias' relations with external actors should be incorporated in the study of mafia organizations.