A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Database Spotlight: Minorities at Risk Organizational Behavior (MAROB)

Researchers from START and the Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM) have released a dataset that can help scholars and practitioners better understand how and why some ethnopolitical organizations (organizations rooted in ethnic groups) use violence and terrorism in response to their grievances with local, national or international authority structures.
START researchers, Victor Asal, Jonathan Wilkenfeld and Amy Pate compiled research on 118 organizations representing the interests of 22 ethnopolitical groups in 16 countries of the Middle East and North Africa, operating between January of 1980 and December, 2004 to form the Minorities at Risk Organizational Behavior (MAROB) Database. 
The database is part of the larger Minorities at Risk(MAR) Project that analyzes conflicts of politically charged communal groups based in all countries with a minimum population of 500,000 people. The project holds data on 283 active ethnopolitical groups, and tracks them on political, economic and cultural dimensions.
The fundamental question pertaining to the MAROB database is what motivates the strategies and tactics of politically mobilized and ethnically based organizations. MAROB's criteria for organization selection into the dataset includes characteristics such as:
  • The organization makes explicit claims to represent the interests of one or more ethnic groups and/or the organization's members are primarily members of a specific ethnic minority.
  • The organization is political in its goals and activities.
  • The organization is active at a regional and/or national level.
  • The organization was not created by a government.
  • The organization is active for at least three consecutive years between 1980 and 2004.
  • Umbrella organizations (coalitions/alliances) are NOT coded. Instead, member organizations are coded.

Analysis of this data reveals major changes over the past three decades in the behavior and ideologies of these organizations. The proportion of organizations that used violence as a means of protest declined. While the number or organizations increased from 39 in 1980 to 96 in 2004, the percentage of organizations that used violence decreased from 56 percent in 1986 to only 14 percent in 2004. According to Pate, while all the organizations in the database have an ethnic identity, the mix of other ideologies espoused have also changed over time.

The percentage of organizations advocating for democracy has steadily increased since 1990 and the number of religiously oriented organizations has increased dramatically since the late 1990s. MAROB researchers are currently processing data for the ethnopolitical groups in Latin America and Post-Communist Europe, as well as extending the data for the Middle East and North Africa.

The MAROB database can be found here and its codebook here.

For further analysis, there is also a report on The Use of Violence by Ethnopolitical Organizations in the Middle East.