Leadership Targeting and Militant Alliance Breakdown

The Journal of Politics, Forthcoming

114 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2021

See all articles by Christopher W. Blair

Christopher W. Blair

University of Pennsylvania

Michael C. Horowitz

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Political Science

Philip B.K. Potter

University of Virginia - Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics

Date Written: November 20, 2020

Abstract

Existing research finds that cooperation between militant groups is common and contributes to both capabilities and lethality. Comparatively little is known, however, about how militant alliances are maintained and how they break apart. We argue that leaders are critical to sustaining alliances between militant groups. As a consequence, organizational disruption in the form of leadership targeting can lead to the breakdown of militant alliances. To test this argument, we pair original data on militant alliances with data on leadership targeting to reveal that decapitating an organization’s leader, and particularly its founder, increases the probability that an organization’s alliances terminate. We find that leadership decapitation spurs alliance termination by incapacitating targeted groups, stoking fear among allies, and inducing preference divergence between targeted groups and allies over strategy.

Keywords: Leadership Targeting, Decapitation, Alliances

JEL Classification: D74

Suggested Citation

Blair, Christopher and Horowitz, Michael C. and Potter, Philip B.K., Leadership Targeting and Militant Alliance Breakdown (November 20, 2020). The Journal of Politics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3734592

Christopher Blair (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Michael C. Horowitz

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Philip B.K. Potter

University of Virginia - Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics ( email )

PO Box 400787
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
111
Abstract Views
390
rank
330,452
PlumX Metrics