More Combatants, More Terror? An Empirical Test of the Outbidding Thesis

35 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2010  

Michael Findley

Brigham Young University - Department of Political Science

Joseph K. Young

American University; American University - School of International Service

Date Written: September 13, 2010

Abstract

In armed internal conflict, violence against civilians is frequent. For insurgent groups, so-called terrorist acts are an important part of conflict with the state and yet there are numerous unanswered questions about the role and uses of terrorism during these conflicts. This paper examines the causes of terrorism in the context of a larger struggle between a state and insurgent groups. In particular, we examine the hypothesis that outbidding among insurgent groups results in more suicide terrorism specifically and also more terrorism of any type. A global analysis of terrorism from 1970-2004 provides limited support for Bloom’s thesis related to suicide terrorism. An extension of the argument to all types of terrorist attacks provides even less support for an outbidding thesis. Similar to Pape’s argument, the outbidding thesis has received considerable attention in academic and policy circles. But both hypotheses have received little empirical support and suggest that considerable cross-national work is still needed to understand suicide terror adequately.

Suggested Citation

Findley, Michael and Young, Joseph K., More Combatants, More Terror? An Empirical Test of the Outbidding Thesis (September 13, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1676551 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1676551

Michael Findley (Contact Author)

Brigham Young University - Department of Political Science ( email )

745 SWKT
Provo, UT 84602
United States
801.422.5317 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://politicalscience.byu.edu/faculty/mfindley/

Joseph K. Young

American University ( email )

School of Public Affairs
4400 Massachussetts Ave
Washington, DC 20016
United States

American University - School of International Service ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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