Contemporary Gangs: An Organizational Analysis


Contemporary gangs are persistent despite efforts to control them. Theories of gangs explain the emergence of gangs but offer littleinsight into their persistence and growth. Weisel examined theorganizational characteristics of four criminal gangs. Although even large gangs appear disorganized, they are not ephemeral groups. Instead the gangs feature characteristics of organic-adaptive organizations rather than hierarchical or bureaucratic organizations. As such, these gangs feature blended goals, shared decision making, a structure based on subdivisions, and a generalist orientation. Such features promote efficiency in a highly volatile environment and contribute to increases in the size and number of contemporary gangs in America.

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