Paolo Campana and I have just published a new paper: Cooperation in criminal organizations: Kinship and violence as credible commitments. (The link to a version of the paper is below, after the abstract, email me if you want the final version)
Rationality and Society August 2013 vol. 25 no. 3 263-289.
this is the Abstract:
The paper argues that kinship ties and sharing information on violent acts can be interpreted as forms of ‘hostage-taking’ likely to increase cooperation among co-offenders. The paper tests this hypothesis among members of two criminal groups, a Camorra clan based just outside Naples, and a Russian Mafia group that moved to Rome in the mid-1990s. The data consist of the transcripts of phone intercepts conducted on both groups by the Italian police over several months. After turning the data into a series of network matrices, we use Multivariate Quadratic Assignment Procedure to test the hypothesis. We conclude that the likelihood of cooperation is higher among members who have shared information about violent acts. Violence has a stronger effect than kinship in predicting tie formation and thus cooperation. When non-kinship-based mechanisms fostering cooperation exist, criminal groups are likely to resort to them.
Academic 2013 campana varese 2012 final submission.pdf