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Understanding entrepreneurial behaviour in organized criminals.

Smith, Robert


Robert Smith


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to focus upon organized criminals as an enterprising community and as enterprising people. Organized crime is a global phenomenon that concentrates upon the development of both sustainable personal prosperity and criminal culture as they define it. Such criminal businesses and the business of criminality go far beyond simple economic and capitalist criteria and entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial ability play a significant part in creating criminal wealth. Indeed, it is part of committed criminality. Whilst acknowledging the crime-entrepreneurship nexus the literature seldom seeks to understand entrepreneurial behaviour practiced in a criminal context. This paper therefore examines entrepreneurial behaviour in criminals looking for useful theoretical perspectives and distilling key practices by seeking to understand entrepreneurial behaviour in organized criminals. Design/methodology/approach: The methodological approach is a qualitative one and relies on cross disciplinary readings of the literatures of crime and entrepreneurship which are developed into a conceptual model for understanding entrepreneurial behaviour in any context. The key behavioural areas which the work concentrates upon are those of modus essendi, modus operandi and modus vivendi. Findings: That crime and entrepreneurship are interconnected areas of human endeavour which both transcend the legal and illegal economies. Research limitations/implications: The paper is limited by its tentative and theoretical nature and by the methodology of cross disciplinary reading. Future studies are planned to test the tripartite behavioural model on real cases. Practical implications: Viewing entrepreneurship (like criminality) as being a learned method of operating has serious practical implications because it concentrates upon behaviours and actions in specific contexts. Originality/value: Linking this understanding to the related elements of modus vivendi and modus essendi creates a useful model for understanding entrepreneurship in any context.


SMITH, R. 2009. Understanding entrepreneurial behaviour in organized criminals. Journal of enterprising communities: people and places in the global economy [online], 3(3), pages 256-268. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 14, 2009
Online Publication Date Aug 14, 2009
Publication Date Sep 30, 2009
Deposit Date Nov 30, 2009
Publicly Available Date Nov 30, 2009
Journal Journal of enterprising communities: people and places in the global economy
Print ISSN 1750-6204
Electronic ISSN 1750-6212
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 3
Issue 3
Pages 256-268
Keywords Criminals; Entrepreneurship; Organisational structures; Criminal entrepreneurship; Organised crime; Leadership
Public URL


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