Elite Deviance, Organized Crime, and Homicide: A Cross-National Quantitative Analysis

Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Michael J. Lynch, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

John K. Cochran, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William A. Pridemore, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Shayne Jones, Ph.D.


Corruption, Cross-national, Homicide, Macro-level theory, Organized crime, Violent crime


Both elite deviance, committed by the upper echelons of society, and organized crime threaten development and the rights and security of people across and within nations; however empirical research on these topics is limited, especially in the field of criminology. This study addresses this gap in the literature by testing hypotheses derived from Simon’s symbiotic theory of elite deviance, which posits that direct and indirect relationships exist between elite deviance, organized crime, and conventional crimes exist (2008). The intervening effects of national culture and political economic ideology are also considered.

To test the research hypotheses, this study uses homicide rates, corruption and organized crime measures, and indicators of national culture from 114 nations. Findings suggest that empirical linkages exist between elite deviance, organized crime and conventional deviance at the cross-national level. These data suggest the level of corruption and organized crime within a nation are better predictors of homicide than conventional explanations of violent crime (e.g., modernization/development, opportunity/routine activities). Furthermore, organized crime partially mediated the relationship between corruption and homicide rates in the same (positive) direction. This implies that the criminogenic effect of elite deviance on non-elite deviance operates indirectly through organized crime. The corruption-homicide relationship was also partially mediated by a national culture of moral cynicism and capitalist economic conditions. Although not definitive given methodological concerns and alternate theoretical explanations, this study provides avenues for future research into the underlying social processes that influence the crime rate within nations.

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