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Normative Command and Control Influences: A Study of Cohesion in Terrorist Organizations and Their Effect on Society

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Master's thesis

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Terrorist organizations are groups and, therefore, they are subject to norm processes to operate. These norms form a core component of the organizations command and control environment. Group norm processes develop according to the needs and conditions under which a group operates. As conditions change, either internally or externally, groups adopt norming strategies -- whether they are cognizant of them or not -- to fit the constraints of the groups environment. If a group is unable to maintain a type of norming structure that facilitates group cohesion and a clear understanding of the groups mission, then that group will likely fail to meet its objective or will eventually cease to exist. Coalition operations in Afghanistan following September 11, 2001, demonstrated the ability of terrorist organizations to continue to flourish without a clear structure. The availability of current technology also aids groups without well-defined structures. Organizations with these constraints are likely to adopt a missionary andor ad-hoc structure, and will be increasingly difficult to categorize and study. The ability of a terrorist organization to continue to exist and lead successful operations is partially dependent upon its ability to influence the society in which it operates. Terrorist organizations that have lasted for several years and those that exist only for specific operations continue to entice people to willingly join them -- to join groups that do not value the same norms as those of society. This study offers a framework for understanding how terrorist organizations affect societies. The intent is to develop hypotheses that will potentially enable future agents of peace to disrupt the norming processes of these groups.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Sociology and Law
  • Psychology
  • Unconventional Warfare

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