The randomization of terrorist attacks

Phillips, Peter J. ORCID: (2010) The randomization of terrorist attacks. Defense and Security Analysis, 26 (3). pp. 261-272. ISSN 1475-1798

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The purpose of this paper is to explore the economic theoretical foundations of the idea that rational terrorist organisations deliberately randomise their attacks (by type, timing, location and targets) to generate uncertainty and intimidation. A choice theoretic framework is applied to the analysis of the terrorist organisation’s behaviour to determine whether welfare (utility) gains from the randomisation of terrorist attacks are plausible and feasible. The randomisation of attacks can appear to promise higher amounts of political influence for each resource input but it turns out that randomisation cannot manufacture a situation where higher amounts of political influence are obtained for each resource input. The results imply that, rather than randomisation and instability, the rational terrorist organisation is likely to prefer stability. The findings and implications provide a theoretical explanation for the non-randomness of terrorist attacks. This may be one small step towards explaining the patterns—non-randomness—in the time-series of terrorist incidents.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Accepted version deposited in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business - School of Accounting, Economics and Finance (1 Apr 2007 - 31 Dec 2010)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business - School of Accounting, Economics and Finance (1 Apr 2007 - 31 Dec 2010)
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2010 06:11
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2013 00:04
Uncontrolled Keywords: terrorist; terrorist attacks; randomisation; random; stability
Fields of Research (2008): 16 Studies in Human Society > 1606 Political Science > 160604 Defence Studies
14 Economics > 1402 Applied Economics > 140299 Applied Economics not elsewhere classified
15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150312 Organisational Planning and Management
Fields of Research (2020): 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4408 Political science > 440804 Defence studies
38 ECONOMICS > 3801 Applied economics > 380199 Applied economics not elsewhere classified
35 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 3507 Strategy, management and organisational behaviour > 350711 Organisational planning and management
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): A Defence > 81 Defence > 8101 Defence > 810107 National Security
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