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

Researchers identify characteristics of groups poised for violence

A START research team has identified a cluster of certain characteristics that are a hallmark of ideological groups poised for violent action. Their findings are summarized in a START Research Brief, "The Organization and Leadership of Violence," which highlights the ways violent and non-violent ideological organizations operate differently. Among the distinguishing characteristics between group types, the researchers found that:
  • Violent ideological groups are more insularly aggressive,
  • Violent ideological groups have elements of hierarchy, and
  • Leadership styles differ between nonviolent and violent organizations.

Led by START Researcher Gina Ligon of the University of Nebraska Omaha, the team set out to examine ideological organizations using theory and methods that are typically applied to more conventional, for-profit organizations.

Next, the team will assess how organizational characteristics (e.g., structure, leadership style) predict violence and performance in ideological groups. The study, The Leadership of the Extreme and Dangerous for Innovative Results (LEADIR), was funded through START by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate's Office of University Programs.

To read the full START Research Brief, click here.