A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Assessing the Terrorist Threat: Impact of the Group's Organizational Design?


Assessing the Terrorist Threat: Impact of the Group's Organizational Design?

Abstract: 

Each terrorist organization faces a critical tradeoff between effectively managing the organization's violent behavior while remaining secure from counterterrorism efforts. Drawing on organization theory and terrorism literature, this article develops theoretical linkages between the organizational design of a terrorist group and this critical tradeoff. It considers the impact of four key design parameters: membership, operational space and time, formalization, and centralization. The first two structural parameters construct the physical anatomy of a terrorist organization. The latter two structuring parameters prescribe or restrict the behavior within this organizational context. Net advantages by means of rising structural design parameter values are increasingly offset by the organizational strength and security vulnerabilities that inherently follow from the rising structuring parameters.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Volders, Brecht. 2015. "Assessing the Terrorist Threat: Impact of the Group's Organizational Design?" Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 39 (October): 106-127. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1057610X.2015.1092842

Publication URL: 
Visit Website