Systematic Review of the Social, Psychological and Economic Factors Relating to Involvement and Recruitment into Organized Crime

Tommaso Comunale, Francesco Calderoni, Martina Elena Marchesi, Elisa Superchi, Gian Maria Campedelli

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in libroChapter


This chapter presents a systematic review of the social, psychological, and economic factors relating to involvement and recruitment into organized crime groups (OCGs), including mafias, drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), gangs, and other criminal organizations. This review has three objectives: (i) identifying the most commonly reported factors leading to recruitment into OCGs, (ii) highlighting whether these factors are independent of one other or they are correlated, and (iii) assessing the validity and generalizability of research findings. The review searched all possible relevant studies indexed in selected databases and published in five languages (i.e. English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish), without limitations as to their year of publication or geographic origin. Starting from 48,731 potentially eligible records, integrated with experts’ suggestions, this systematic review includes 47 empirical studies employing quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods approaches. The findings show that social and economic factors are the most commonly reported factors relating to recruitment into OCGs, while psychological factors are marginal. Although factors are highly interrelated and shared across OCGs, their predominance varies across types of criminal organizations. For instance, individuals join mafias and gangs attracted by strong group identity, whereas individuals enter DTOs mainly for financial gain. In light of these findings, recommendations for future research and implications for prevention policies are discussed.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteUnderstanding Recruitment to Organized Crime and Terrorism
EditorDavid Weisburd, Ernesto U. Savona, Badi Hasisi, Francesco Calderoni
Numero di pagine30
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2020


  • Organized crime
  • Recruitment
  • Risk factors
  • Systematic review


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