Book Review: Jacob N. Shapiro: The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations

thJacob N. Shapiro : The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013. 335 pp. $29.95/£19.95, hardcover.

Anita M. McGahan of Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto recently took the time to review Shapiro’s book in the OnlineFirst section of Administrative Science Quarterly.

In this well-organized book, Shapiro invites us to turn away from ASQ_v59n4_Dec2014_cover.inddsensationalized media descriptions and toward more analytical, accurate, and effective approaches for understanding what terrorism is and how it works. At the core of his argument is the idea that groups such as al-Qa’ida, the Irish Republican Army, and even pre-revolutionary Russian leftists are organizations that must exert control over field operations while preserving secrecy so as to avoid detection by governmental and other authorities.

The purpose of the book is to demonstrate analytically that this tradeoff between field control and secrecy is pervasive among terrorist organizations. For the public, this message should be reassuring, argues Shapiro, as the costs of secrecy are normally high enough to prevent the effective operation of organizations such as al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan in the years prior to the 9/11 attacks on the United States; Shapiro refers to the organization behind 9/11 as “the exception that proves the rule,” by which he means that terrorist groups can no longer operate with the security and secrecy of pre-9/11 al-Qa’ida in Afghanistan and therefore cannot execute attacks on the same scale (p. 15).

Click here to read the rest of the review from Administrative Science Quarterly. Want to know about all the latest reviews and research from Administrative Science Quarterly? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

This entry was posted in Book Review, Cultural Research, Groups, Motivation, Organizational Behavior, Organizational Research, Organizational Studies, Politics, Psychology, Social Impact, Strategy, Teams and tagged , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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