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Preference modification vs. incentive manipulation as tools of terrorist recruitment: The role of culture

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  • Michael Munger

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Abstract

Terrorism is a tactic much more likely to be used when combatants have asymmetric numerical strength and weaponry. Only if one side is comparatively very weak will it use terror tactics. This weakness requires a means of controlling strong incentives for free-riding or defection from the weaker side. There are two (nonexclusive) answers: (1) Atttract or inculcate recruits with an innate preference for cooperation, even if it results in the recruit's own death (2) Create a set of incentives that reward loyalty, by giving access to excludable near-public (“club”) goods. Culture is the key to achieving either of these solutions. Culture is defined here as the set of “inherited” beliefs, attitudes, and moral strictures that a people use to distinguish outsiders, to understand themselves and to communicate with each other. The primary question is whether culture creates a preference for cooperation as a primitive, or accommodates incentives such as excludable club goods that can only be obtained by cooperation. The difference between the two accounts matters greatly for determining the correct strategy to fight terrorism. If terrorists are selected for having unusual (cooperative, from the perspective of the terror group) preferences, then recruitment must be disrupted somehow. If, on the other hand, terrorists allow themselves to be recruited to gain access to club goods, then the intervention strategy must be the disruption of social networks that credibly guarantee access to those club goods. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11127-006-9048-6
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 128 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 131-146

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:128:y:2006:i:1:p:131-146

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100332

Related research

Keywords: Terrorism; Culture; Ideology; Commitment; Club goods;

References

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  1. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  2. Denzau, Arthur T & North, Douglass C, 1994. "Shared Mental Models: Ideologies and Institutions," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 3-31.
  3. Munger, Michael C, 2000. " Five Questions: An Integrated Research Agenda for Public Choice," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(1-2), pages 1-12, April.
  4. Greif, Avner, 1994. "Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 912-50, October.
  5. Eli Berman, 2003. "Hamas, Taliban and the Jewish Underground: An Economist's View of Radical Religious Militias," NBER Working Papers 10004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Charles K. Rowley, 2004. "Conservatism and Economics: A Sweet Turkish Delight," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 119(1_2), pages 1-12, 04.
  7. Iannaccone, Laurence R, 1992. "Sacrifice and Stigma: Reducing Free-Riding in Cults, Communes, and Other Collectives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 271-91, April.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Sean Mulholland, 2013. "White supremacist groups and hate crime," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 91-113, October.
  2. James Kostelnik & David Skarbek, 2013. "The governance institutions of a drug trafficking organization," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(1), pages 95-103, July.
  3. Jason Briggeman, 2009. "Governance as a strategy in state-of-nature games," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 141(3), pages 481-491, December.
  4. Skarbek, David, 2012. "Prison gangs, norms, and organizations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 96-109.
  5. Charles Rowley & Nathanael Smith, 2009. "Islam’s democracy paradox: Muslims claim to like democracy, so why do they have so little?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 139(3), pages 273-299, June.

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