Using Interorganizational Communication Networks to Predict Terrorist Attacks

Andrew Pilny, Jeffrey D. Proulx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Although not as common as more traditional organizations such as firms, nonprofits, and governments, terrorist organizations also create interorganizational communication (IC) relationships. The purpose of this article is to determine the relationship between IC relationships and terrorist attacks. To do so, we analyzed a stable alliance network of 395 terrorist organizations between 1998 and 2005. Using Borgatti and Everett’s four-prong typology of centrality, we assessed how degree, closeness, betweenness, and distance-weighted fragmentation contributed to the identification of key players in the network. The results found that all four sets of key players were more likely to commit more terrorist acts and kill more people from 1998 to 2005. However, when entered into a full model, key players identified by closeness centrality consistently predicted both indicators of terrorism, whereas the other centrality metrics did not. We discuss the results in light of existing IC and communication network theory, suggesting that the network position afforded by closeness centrality may allow dark organizations the balance to remain hidden enough to avoid detection, yet connected enough to mobilize resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-32
Number of pages30
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • dark organizations
  • network analysis
  • organizational communication
  • terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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