Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Gina Ligon


This dissertation draws on gang organization research and organizational theory to assess the underlying dimensions of organization in terrorist groups. Using the Leadership for the Extreme and Dangerous for Innovative Results (LEADIR) dataset, findings suggest that organization is a multidimensional construct in terrorist groups, including the structuring of activities dimension and the concentration of authority dimension. In relation to violence, terrorist groups high on the structuring of activities dimension were significantly more lethal in general and more lethal when attacking hard targets, whereas terrorist groups high on the concentration of authority dimension attacked hard targets at a significantly higher rate. These findings demonstrate that both dimensions of organization were related to an increased capacity for violence yet in different ways. In light of these findings, a theoretical model is outlined, and practical implications are discussed with a focus on how both organizational dimensions highlight the role of criminal capital and bureaucratic control mechanisms in terrorist groups.


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy Major: Criminology and Criminal Justice Under the Supervision of Dr. Gina Ligon Omaha, Nebraska August 2020

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