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The Effect of Category Spanning on the Lethality and Longevity of Terrorist Organizations

Olzak, Susan. 2016. "The Effect of Category Spanning on the Lethality and Longevity of Terrorist Organizations” Social Forces 95 (2): 559-584. doi: 10.1093/sf/sow081

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This paper examines the effect of category spanning on the lethality and survival of terrorist organizations. The core argument is that terrorist organizations that span multiple and distant ideological categories will be less lethal and end more quickly than other terrorist organizations whose membership lies squarely within a single ideological category. Using information on 385 terrorist organizations, this paper finds support for these claims, controlling for Islamic ideological orientation, suicide tactics, and measures of organizational capacity. In addition, de novo terrorist organizations are more likely than spin-off organizations to end by becoming part of the political process.

Social Forces
2016