The economic analysis of lone wolf terrorism

Phillips, Peter (2014) The economic analysis of lone wolf terrorism. In: Understanding terrorism: a socio-economic perspective. Contributions to Conflict Management, Peace Economics and Development (22). Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, WYorks. United Kingdom, pp. 159-191. ISBN 978-1-78350-827-3

Text (Accepted Version)
Phillips_Lone Wolf Terrorism Ch_AV.pdf

Download (758Kb) | Preview


This chapter explains how economic analysis can contribute to the delineation of the lone wolf's opportunities and choices in a manner that allows operationally relevant advice to be contributed to the investigative process. Using a risk-reward analytical framework we examine the lone wolf's attack method opportunities and choices and identify those attack methods that would be chosen by lone wolves with different levels of risk aversion. We also use prospect theory as an alternative methodology for the determination of the lone wolf's preference orderings over the available attack methods in a context where he references his actions against those of a predecessor whom he wishes to emulate. We find that lone wolf terrorists with different levels of risk aversion can be expected to choose different attack methods or combinations of attack methods. More risk averse lone wolf terrorists will choose attack methods such as assassination. Less risk averse lone wolf terrorists will choose attack methods such as bombing, hostage-taking and unconventional attacks. Also, we find that lone wolf terrorists who reference their actions against 'predecessor' lone wolf terrorists will choose differently from among the available attack methods depending on which predecessor lone wolf is being referenced. The analysis provides two different perspectives on terrorist choice but by no means exhausts the analytical alternatives. The analysis focuses on the fatalities and injuries inflicted whereas other perspectives might include different 'payoffs' series, including news or media coverage. The chapter contributes an analysis of the order in which lone wolf terrorists with particular characteristics will choose from a set of available attack methods. During the course of our discussion we point out the consistency between the 'rise' of the lone wolf terrorist and the diseconomies to scale that are evident within the terrorism context. This presents the opportunity for new debates.

Statistics for USQ ePrint 24785
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2014 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Published version deposited in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. ebook held USQ Library.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Commerce
Date Deposited: 21 May 2014 00:10
Last Modified: 09 May 2017 06:11
Uncontrolled Keywords: lone wolf terrorism; economic analysis; economics of terrorism; prospect theory and terrorism; investigative economics; investigative psychology; risk; expected utility; copy cat
Fields of Research : 14 Economics > 1402 Applied Economics > 140213 Public Economics-Public Choice
16 Studies in Human Society > 1606 Political Science > 160609 Political Theory and Political Philosophy
16 Studies in Human Society > 1602 Criminology > 160204 Criminological Theories
Socio-Economic Objective: A Defence > 81 Defence > 8101 Defence > 810107 National Security
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1108/S1572-8323(2014)0000022013

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only