Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Leadership Studies


The past two decades have brought with it a wave of movies and novels attempting to explain, or at least accurately portray, the Italian-American Mafia. One who has viewed the Godfather quickly becomes fascinated by this subculture and its ability to exist simultaneously with the rest of society. Moviegoers are mesmerized by codes of loyalty, silence, and kinship. However, much of what the public perceives as fact is little more than fabricated fiction. Part of what makes this world so intriguing is so little is known about it. For example, until 1986 there was no solid proof that the Mafia even existed.

Pursuing the leadership implications of the Mafia allows leadership students to view it from another perspective. The Mafia's ties to family and loyalty are unique and incomparable to any other organization. The past three years I have studied leadership within "legitimate" organizations. In this project I wanted to learn if there exist parallels between the leadership issues that face legitimate family run businesses as compared to leadership issues within the Italian-American Mafia. Granted there exists a debate within leadership circles as to whether leadership can exist without morals. While this is an important issue, the similarities, as well as the differences, of leadership within the Italian American Mafia need to be recognized. Hopefully, through this paper one can learn more about which trends influence not only legitimate business, but also illegal organized crime operations. This paper is an in- depth review which attempts to identify developments characteristic of both legitimate family businesses and the Italian- American Mafia. In order to accomplish this goal, the first section of my analysis outlines a brief history of the Mafia and its contemporary state. Without this crucial information, the current, as well as future trends are meaningless. The history of the Mafia provides a context and the perspective from which the reader can understand all future trends. Subsequently, my research focused on the leadership issues facing legitimate family run businesses. Finally, an analysis of why current leadership trends are occurring both in the Mafia and in legitimate family business is presented. Another facet to this analysis is observing trends unique to the Mafia, and suggesting what legitimate business could learn from observing leadership within the Mafia.