The Terrorist's Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations

On Thursday, October 10, Jacob Shapiro (Princeton University) introduced his new book, The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations, to a packed room at the Mortara Center. Using data captured from the Bin Laden raid and other firsthand sources, Shapiro delved into the bureaucracy of terrorist organizations from al Qaeda to Hamas and discovered that they suffer from many of the same organizational and management dilemmas as large corporations. He highlighted examples such as bickering over the cost of plane tickets, inflating the number of martyrs to embezzle pension money from the central leadership, as well as standardizing terrorist recruitment forms. His book, available from Princeton University Press, further explores the particular managerial challenges of covert organizations and discusses how these characteristics can be exploited in anti-terror efforts.