Terrorism, Security and the Power of Informal Networks

Terrorism, Security and the Power of Informal Networks

Edited by David Martin Jones, Ann Lane and Paul Schulte

This innovative work examines the concept of the informal network and its practical utility within the context of counterterrorism. Drawing together a range of practitioner and academic expertise it explores the character and evolution of informal networks, addressing the complex relationship between kinship groups, transnational linkages and the role that globalization and new technologies play in their formation and sustainability.

Chapter 11: Producing Terror: Organizational Dynamics of Survival

Jessica Stern and Amit Modi

Subjects: politics and public policy, international politics, terrorism and security

Extract

* Jessica Stern and Amit Modi In this chapter we use an organizational approach to explore terrorism as a definable and distinctive product rendered by groups or ‘firms.’ This approach allows us to analyze the evolution, behaviors and attributes of terrorist organizations, and their adaptive fit to their domestic and international environments. We are able to hypothesize how terrorist groups adapt to changes in their environment and, in particular, to governmental counterterrorism policies, such as attempts to limit a terrorist group’s access to funds. Organizations have an array of adaptive mechanisms available to them to survive in a competitive environment. We consider these in depth below, and our analysis includes hypotheses regarding a broad range of organizational behaviors. We consider how terrorist groups overcome the collective action problem to attain resources and how they may compete with other groups or splinter into ‘subsidiaries’, attempting to garner these resources more effectively. Groups may attempt to diversify revenue sources in order to reduce vulnerabilities to market instability. Additionally, groups may attempt to change missions as the environmental demand for particular ‘products’ changes. We consider other adaptive behaviors, but it is already clear from these examples that a terrorist firm’s response to an environmental stressor will depend on the internal dynamics of the organization. For instance, we consider why some firms are ‘sticky’ and others ‘spry’ in their ability to change missions. Because internal dynamics are crucial, we analyze the firm’s organizational structure, primarily focusing on the hierarchical and network modes of organization and...

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