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

Strengthening Maritime Security

Non-State Actors in Maritime Security

Written by Conor Seyle, Jens Vestergaard Madsen on July 20, 2015

Non-state actors have a strong counter-piracy role for the maritime sector, potentially greater than the role they play in land-based problems.

Read more
Prosecuting pirates

The Issue of Juvenile Piracy

Written by Jon Belish on June 15, 2015

This chapter was published as part of the book Prosecuting Maritime Piracy, editors Michael P. Scharf, Michael Newton, and Milena

Read more
Maritime Piracy 2014

The State of Maritime Piracy 2014

Written by Conor Seyle, Matthew R. Walje, Kellie Brandt, Peter Kerins, Megan Matthews, Tyler Maybee on June 10, 2015

This report is the fifth in a series by Oceans Beyond Piracy with support from OEF Research.These reports annually seek to assess the cost of maritime piracy - both economic and human - to the international community.

Read more
Social evolution

Social evolution in the shadow of asymmetrical relatedness

Written by Peter D. Taylor on April 29, 2015

The persistence of altruism and spite remains an enduring problem of social evolution.

Read more
Renewable Energy In Somalia

Powering Progress: The Potential Of Renewable Energy In Somalia

Written by Jami Nelson Nuñez on March 4, 2015

This report describes the evolving landscape of energy in the country and outlines the burden of limited electricity services and extremely high tariffs on households, businesses, and the environment.

Read more
Private Sector and Business role in atrocity crimes

The Role of Business in the Responsibility to Protect

Written by One Earth Future on December 19, 2014

This policy brief is based on “The Role of Business in the Responsibility to Protect,” a chapter which appeared in The Responsibility to Protect and the Third Pillar: Legitimacy and Operationalization.

Read more
L. Heger in Journal of Peace Research

Votes and violence: Pursuing terrorism while navigating politics

Written by Lindsay Heger on December 5, 2014

Many of the world’s most infamous terrorist organizations demonstrate clear political aptitude, maintaining highly successful political parties while simultaneously carrying out terrorist attacks.

Read more
Competition and Cooperation in Classroom

Cooperation and Competition in Large Classrooms

Written by Joseph Kim, Peter Taylor, Pat Barclay on October 23, 2014

Instructors of large classes often face challenges with student motivation. The classroom incentive structure – grades, extra credit, and instructor and peer acknowledgement – may shape student motivations to engage in their studies.

Read more

Pages