Last Updated 28 Mar 2021

Models of Organized Crime

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Within the criminal justice field there are two different types of organizations and those organizations are bureaucratic and patron-client organizations. This paper will discuss the several assorted reasons why and how the bureaucratic and patron-client organizations are different. The patron-client organization chooses to break the law. On the other hand, the bureaucratic organizations are those that are there to enforce it.

Although there are many differences between these two organizations, they also have commonalities. This paper will address so many more ways that make these two unique types of organizations different.

The Patron-client Organization

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A patron-client organization is an assembly of criminal individuals who swapped data and assembled a successful system between the main bosses and important political figures. The patron-client organization is typically organized using a hierarchy system which consists of one boss, an underboss, an advisor, captains, and members.

The main boss hands down commands to the underboss. The underboss relates the information to captains, who also has lackeys to do the dirty work. All members of a patron-client organization must go through prior initiation. Moreover, patron-client organizations are similar to a very close family in the top tier. The patron-client appears to recruit solely within their group. They tend to identify members with a common factor for recruitment. All members may be of the same ethnic group, family or other common factor.

When it comes to the lower level, with the members, that tightness spreads out some. With this allowance of a somewhat spider web manner, there is a better chance of elusiveness when it come to the head figures. This way, the main bosses are able to evade apprehension as well as initial detection form the justice system. The organization is then able to continue daily operations with no issues (Lyman, 2007). When it comes to the patron-client organization control is a special problem ecause of the amount of people in the organization and the length of communication of commands have to travel. So the inability to establish command oversight with the leaders in management with the members in the lower tiers is a large problem (“Florida International University”, 2007). Something that this group provides is economic aid and protection from outside influences that their clients may be facing. While the group is providing this service, the client will repay the organization with such things like intangible items like loyalty to the organization in the future and esteem.

The patrons of the organization will act as power brokers for their clients and the rest of society.

The Bureaucratic Organization

Bureaucratic organizations are more official consisting of hard guidelines, protocols, practices, and procedures. This is unlike the patron-client organization because without administrative approval, the low ranked members may not make any decisions. Called the red tape rule, administration must process the formal documentation before processing all major decisions.

Unlike the patron-client organization, which the lower level members can make small decisions without any approval as long as it benefits the organization. If there are no benefits to the organization, the member will receive some sort of punishment. A bureaucratic organization, blames financial troubles solely on the administrations whereas in a patron-client organization, holding everyone financially responsible and involving all members in the success or failure of the organization (WeeKoh, 2009).

The Similarities

All criminal organization models consist of comparisons and contrasts but the main purpose is to benefit law enforcement, researchers, society, and professionals with a better understanding of how criminal organizations develop domestically and internationally. Professional psychologists, sociologists, and criminologist’s base models on corroborating studies, data, facts, and creditable arguments collected. The information that presented focuses on organizational structure, function and reason, participants, and clients.

In addition, each model incorporates detail specific unique features. The models presented are tools that provide answers to questions, offer an explanation to why individuals engage in illegal activity, how criminal organizations develop, and why most criminal organizations are successful. These are just a few of the similarities that exist (Lyman, 2007). Although it appears there are more similarities in both the bureaucratic and patron-client organizations such as their involvement in both legitimate and illegitimate means of business.

Both parties hide behind legitimate businesses to cover alternative means of business opportunities, and both parties follow a structured and strictly regulated organization with various levels of power.

The Differences

The main difference between the two organizations is the shared opportunities and contributions to the organization. The patron-client appears to welcome the input and contributions of each member which gives each member the sense of pride and empowerment as a group that is lacking with the bureaucratic organization.

Failure in the bureaucratic organization is blamed on the negligence of those in charge, not in the failure as a group which would be the perception of the patron-client organization. The differences between bureaucratic and patron-client organizations are visible as bureaucratic deals with offices that do things by the law. They do not take extensive training in customer service and do not concentrate on being nice. The offices that are being referred to are government offices such as Welfare, DMV, and Section 8.

In contrast, patron-client facilities are offices or places that focus upon pleasing their clients because if they don’t, the patron will go to another facility to get their needs met. This brings us to the similarities and differences of the models of organized crime. These types of models are exceedingly important to understanding organized crime as each provides a wide-range of valuable information. Models just like theories can present what environmental locations are more likely to show signs of developmental progress of criminal organizations than other sites.

This in return can be extremely useful in many ways as it allows law enforcement the ability to implement methods that will deter, prevent, detect, and apprehend individuals involved with illegal organizations and operations. Furthermore, law enforcement can educate society on crime prevention methods, and establish numerous anti-crime and awareness programs, such as neighborhood watch (Lyman, 2007). After carefully researching the patron-client and bureaucratic organization, one clearly can see that legal and illegal organizations have one main purpose to profit.

Each organization has numerous similarities and differences, but structuring both in such a fashion that there is always someone who is in charge of maintaining the organizations success. Models just like theories provide useful information to law enforcement, society, and professionals. Consider these models as tools that allow law enforcement and society an opportunity to protect assets while detecting, preventing, apprehending, and deterring the individual wrongdoer or a highly developed criminal organization.


  1. Florida International University. (2007). Retrieved from http://chua2. fiu. edu/faculty/byrnesj/organizedweek1-1. htm
  2. Lyman, M. D. , & Potter, G. W. (2007). Organized crime (4th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
  3. WeeKoh. (2009). Bureaucratic organization. Retrieved from http://weekoh. wordpress. com/2009/02/28/briefly-identify-the-main-features-of-bureaucratic-organizations-why-has-bureaucracy-been-accused-of-wiping-out-the-individual-responsibility-of-the-employee/

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