Analysing Terrorism from a Systems Thinking Perspective

Lukas Schoenenberger, Andrea Schenker-Wicki, Mathias Beck

Abstract


Given the complexity of terrorism, solutions based on single factors are destined to fail. Systems thinking offers various tools for helping researchers and policy makers comprehend terrorism in its entirety. We have developed a semi-quantitative systems thinking approach for characterising relationships between variables critical to terrorism and their impact on the system as a whole. For a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying terrorism, we present a 16-variable model characterising the critical components of terrorism and perform a series of highly focused analyses. We show how to determine which variables are best suited for government intervention, describing in detail their effects on the key variable—the political influence of a terrorist network. We also offer insights into how to elicit variables that destabilise and ultimately break down these networks. Because we clarify our novel approach with fictional data, the primary importance of this paper lies in the new framework for reasoning that it provides.



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ENHANCING SECURITY THROUGH COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH

Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

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