Terrorism and Political Violence
Political Conflict

Organizing for Resistance: How Group Structure Impacts the Character of Violence

Author(s): Danielle Jung, Wendy H. Wong, Lindsay Heger
Date: November 15, 2012
Publication Type: Journal Article
Research Topics: Political Conflict

Overview:

How does the way in which a group organizes change the lethality of the group's attacks? In this article, we argue that groups organized vertically as hierarchies are likely to conduct more lethal attacks. We build our argument around three advantages inherent to centralized structures: functional differentiation, clear command and control structures, and accountability. We argue that each of these characteristics positively impacts an organization's ability to deliver an effective lethal blow. To test our argument, we use a mixed method approach, drawing on empirical evidence and support from a time-series case study. Our large-N analysis examines the trends in more than 19,000 attacks. In this test we develop a novel proxy measure for hierarchy based on a group's bases of operation and non-violent activities. To complement the empirical work, we examine the history of Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), the Basque separatist group. Over several decades of violent operations, this group's structure has changed dramatically. We analyze how these shifts impacted ETA's ability to maximize the effectiveness and damage of their attacks. In both the case study and large-N analysis, the more hierarchically organized the group, the more easily the group can orchestrate lethal attacks.

Key Findings:

  1. Drawing on empirical evidence and support from a time-series case study, groups organized vertically as hierarchies are likely to conduct more lethal attacks.
  2. To complement the empirical work, the history of Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), the Basque separatist group is examined.

Related Publications

Private Sector Peace Building - Political Conflict

Private Sector Peacebuilding: A Review of Past Cases and Lessons Learned

Written by Conor Seyle, Jinghong Wang on November 25, 2019

This report reviews a dozen case studies of business engagement in peacebuilding across a variety of private sector actors, strategies, and time.

Read more
women and nonviolent campaigns policy brief

Women’s Participation and The Fate Of Nonviolent Campaigns | Policy Brief

Written by Erica Chenoweth, Conor Seyle, Sahana Dharmapuri on September 30, 2019

This research examines the effects of women’s representation in resistance movements on their choice of strategies and movement effectiveness.  The Women in Resistance (WiRe) data set is the first attempt to assess resistance movements on the degree

Read more
 Women’s Participation and Nonviolent Campaigns

Women’s Participation and The Fate Of Nonviolent Campaigns | Report

Written by Erica Chenoweth on September 30, 2019

This research examines the effects of women’s representation in resistance movements on their choice of strategies and movement effectiveness.  The Women in Resistance (WiRe) data set is the first attempt to assess resistance movements on the degree

Read more
Recent Trends in Civil War Dynamics

Reassessing Rebellion

Written by Jay Benson, Eric Keels, Joshua Lambert on March 15, 2019

Though historically the number of armed conflicts has been declining, there has been a recent surge in ongoing civil wars. Intrastate armed conflicts therefore represent a persistent and dangerous threat to global stability.

Read more
A Story of Peace and Reconciliation in Colombia

Peace is Ours: A Story of Peace and Reconciliation in Colombia

Written by Alexandra Amling, Timothy Schommer, Illustrator: Chloé Dolic on March 6, 2019

Peace is Ours is the story of a young couple, Ximena and Jair, who attempt to build their lives in the shadow of the Colombian peace process in 2016.

Read more
gender and reintegration in colombia

The Missing Peace: Gender Considerations in Colombia's Reintegration Efforts

Written by Alexandra Amling on March 5, 2019

Gender perspectives are understood as the differences in needs and challenges of men, women, boys, and girls which are based on the social construction of gender roles and norms.

Read more
exploring the puzzle rebel terrorism

Exploring the Puzzle of Rebel Terrorism

Written by Eric Keels on December 11, 2018

The decision by rebel groups to employ terrorism is influenced, in part, by the structure of rebel organizations as well as the strategic environment in which they operate.

Read more
The Collapse of Mozambique’s 2013 Peace Agreement and Why it Matters

The Collapse of Mozambique’s 2013 Peace Agreement and Why it Matters

on July 19, 2018

This discussion paper analyzes the structural and causal factors that led to the collapse of Mozambique’s landmark 1992 General Peace Agreement in October 2013 and why they matter for the country’s future stability.

Read more

Pages