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Nonstate Actors and the Diffusion of Innovations: The Case of Suicide Terrorism

  • Michael C. Horowitz (a1)
Abstract

Studies of terrorism in general and suicide terrorism in particular tend to view terrorist groups independently. However, what if the propensity for a terrorist group to adopt suicide tactics depends in part on its external linkages and the relationship between the organizational capabilities required to adopt the innovation and the organizational capabilities of the group? This article shows that the organizational change requirements for adopting an innovation significantly influence the overall adoption pattern, along with interlinkages between groups. Additionally, evaluating the universe of terrorist groups, not only those groups that adopted suicide terrorism but those that did not, shows that Pape's key variable of interest, occupation, does not significantly predict the adoption of suicide terrorism. Thinking about suicide terrorism as a special case of diffusion in the military area—an innovation for nonstate groups—can help bring the study of suicide terrorism further into the mainstream and highlight how the phenomenon has not just differences, but similarities, to other innovations.

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International Organization
  • ISSN: 0020-8183
  • EISSN: 1531-5088
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