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The Terrorist's DilemmaManaging Violent Covert Organizations$
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Jacob N. Shapiro

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157214

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157214.001.0001

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The Terrorist’s Dilemma

The Terrorist’s Dilemma

Chapter:
(p.26) Chapter 2 The Terrorist’s Dilemma
Source:
The Terrorist's Dilemma
Author(s):

Jacob N. Shapiro

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691157214.003.0002

This chapter analyzes the fundamental organizational challenges of terrorism in greater depth. Using a wide variety of evidence, it examines why terrorist groups, since the 1880s, have struggled with the terrorist's dilemma and lays out an argument about how and why group solutions to that dilemma vary predictably in response to four factors. These four factors include the demand for discrimination in the use of violence, or how important carefully targeted violence is, given the group's political goals; the level of uncertainty about which targets serve political goals, or how hard it is to judge what kinds of attacks will advance a group's goals; the extent of preference divergence in the group, or how much people in an organization disagree about how to best use violence to accomplish their stated goals; and the intensity of government security pressure, or how risky it is to engage in the communications required to manage a given organization.

Keywords:   organizational challenges, terrorism, terrorist groups, violence, political goals, preference divergence

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