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The Life Cycle of Terrorist Organizations

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  • Peter Phillips

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Abstract

It is a fact that terrorist organizations come and go. This empirical fact tends to draw attention to the demise of the terrorist organization and distracts from the dynamics of the terrorist organization’s life cycle. In this respect, the extant literature suffers from a serious weakness that is symptomatic of the absence from the literature of a rigorous theoretical explanation for the life cycle of terrorist organizations. This paper aims to address this by developing a theoretical explanation for the life cycle of terrorist organizations that is centered on competition for grassroots or popular support between the terrorist organization and the government. The decline and demise of a particular terrorist organization is not certain ex ante and a terrorist organization may be expected to be most dangerous not in its death throes, but during its early years as it competes with the government for grassroots support. These appear to be different conclusions to those that characterise some parts of the literature on this subject. The theoretical explanation developed herein also predicts a cyclical oscillation of conflict. Copyright International Atlantic Economic Society 2011

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Phillips, 2011. "The Life Cycle of Terrorist Organizations," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 17(4), pages 369-385, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:iaecre:v:17:y:2011:i:4:p:369-385:10.1007/s11294-011-9314-3
    DOI: 10.1007/s11294-011-9314-3
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paul Klemperer, 1995. "Competition when Consumers have Switching Costs: An Overview with Applications to Industrial Organization, Macroeconomics, and International Trade," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 515-539.
    2. B. Peter Rosendorff & Todd Sandler, 2004. "Too Much of a Good Thing?," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 48(5), pages 657-671, October.
    3. Joseph Farrell & Carl Shapiro, 1988. "Dynamic Competition with Switching Costs," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 19(1), pages 123-137, Spring.
    4. Im, Eric Iksoon & Cauley, Jon & Sandler, Todd, 1987. "Cycles and Substitutions in Terrorist Activities: A Spectral Approach," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(2), pages 238-255.
    5. Joao Ricardo Faria & Daniel Arce, 2005. "Terror Support And Recruitment," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(4), pages 263-273.
    6. Mason, T David, 1996. "Insurgency, Counterinsurgency, and the Rational Peasant," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 86(1-2), pages 63-83, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kjell Hausken & Sheheryar Banuri & Dipak Gupta & Klaus Abbink, 2015. "Al Qaeda at the bar: coordinating ideologues and mercenaries in terrorist organizations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 164(1), pages 57-73, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Terrorist organization; Life cycle; Grassroots support; Conflict; Demise; Cyclical; Defence; H56; D74; D81;

    JEL classification:

    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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