Business cartels and organised crime: exclusive and inclusive systems of collusion
Trends in Organized Crime
In this article, two case studies of large-scale bid rigging in the construction industry in Canada and the Netherlands are analysed to explore why business cartels sometimes do and sometimes do not involve organised crime. By combining concepts from both organised crime and organisational crime, an integrated understanding of the organisation of serious crimes for gain is applied. Across time and space, businesses in the construction industry are known to fix prices, use collusive tendering and divide market shares in illegal cartel agreements. In order to stabilise cartels, participants need to ward off new competitors and prevent cheating within the cartel. The question why we see a system of collusion involving organised crime and violence in Canada as opposed to the Netherlands is answered through analysing two comparable cases. This article finds two systems of bid rigging emerge under different cultural conditions: inclusive and exclusive collusion. The exclusive system makes use of the violent reputation provided by criminal groups and distinguishes from the inclusive system that uses sophisticated administration of mutual claims in shadow bookkeeping.