Why do political organizations split? Drawing insight from organizational theory and social movement literature, this article explores the effect of organizational factors on group schism. Using a new data set of 112 ethnopolitical organizations in the Middle East, the article examines to what extent organizational factors such as leadership structure, organizational legality, and tactical intensity, as well as contextual variables such as state violence and external support for the organization, influence group schism. Findings show that organizations with a factional or competing leadership structure and those that use violence as a tactic are at a greater risk to split. Contrary to research on political parties, which highlight the importance of factional leadership structure in relation to the maintenance and growth of the party organization, findings suggest that competing leadership structure, along with the employment of tactical violence, precipitates ethnopolitical organizational fission and eventual splintering.
START Author(s):Victor Asal