CCGL9027 Global Issues

Criminal Entrepreneurs, Clandestine Globalization and the Illicit World Political Economy

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]


Course Description

Globalization has provided expansionist opportunities for less-than-honest entrepreneurs, criminal organizations and outlawed radical groups worldwide. Illicit and illegal flows of goods, services, information, money and even people cross national borders each day. These flows represent the shadowy side of globalization and signify a real if understudied dimension of the global economy – that of the illicit world political economy. This course introduces students to this facet of globalization that pertains to organized crime and the various illicit industries around the world. The course first provides the students with a conceptual and theoretical introduction. It then goes on to present an empirical survey of various activities within the illicit world political economy in relation to globalization. By inviting students to consider selected case studies on the trafficking and trade of illicit goods such as weaponry, drugs, credit card numbers and human organs, as well as illicit services such as money laundering and counterfeiting, students are encouraged to reflect on how these activities are intricately linked to their local lives, and the opportunities and challenges these issues present for global governance and economic development of the societies they live in.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the literature on the illicit global economy and its linkages to transnational crime in the global era.
  2. Appraise the constraints, dilemmas and quandaries facing nation-states and international institutions in their dealings with the illicit activities in the globalized age and reflect upon the challenges posed for global democratic governance.
  3. Critically question and reflect upon existing ethical judgements about illicit activities and their actual functionality in host societies.
  4. Comprehend the tensions between state actions and criminal entrepreneurship and the ambiguous moral areas of state-sanctioned illegal covert activities.
  5. Identify the implications of global criminal activities and how they relate to the Hong Kong society and in turn how local criminal activities have worldwide repercussions.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 12
Reading / Self-study 30
Documentary video viewing 12
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 30
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 25
Assessment: In-class assessment (unseen paper) 2
Total: 135

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Performance in classes (lectures and tutorials) 20
Tutorial presentation 20
In-class test 30
Group project 30

Required Reading

  • Friman, H. R. (Ed.). (2009). Crime and the global political economy. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
  • Maltz, M. D. (1976). On defining “organized crime”: The development of a definition and a typology. Crime and Delinquency, 22(3), 338-346.
  • Naaim, M. (2005). Illicit: How smugglers, traffickers and copycats are hijacking the global economy. New York: Doubleday.
  • Robinson, J. (1998). The laundrymen. London; New York: Pocket Books.

Recommended Reading

  • Andreas, P. (2006). Policing the globe: Criminalization and crime control in international relations. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press [pp. 245-250]
  • Dupont, A. (1999). Transnational crime, drugs, and security in East Asia. Asian Survey, 39(3), 433-455.
  • Friman, H. R. (Ed.). (2009). Crime and global political economy. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers. [Chap. 1]
  • Glenny, M. (2008). McMafia: A journey through the global criminal underworld. New York: Knopf Books.
  • Lyman, M. D. (2011). Organized crime. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Recommended Websites


Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr S.C.H. Wong
School of Modern Languages and Cultures (China Studies), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 7192
Email: samuelhh@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr S.C.H. Wong
School of Modern Languages and Cultures (China Studies), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 7192
Email: samuelhh@hku.hk
Dr V.E.L. Teo
School of Modern Languages & Cultures (Japanese Studies / China Studies), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 5925
Email: victorteo@hku.hk