Towards an Acceptable Level of Violence: Institutional Lessons from Northern Ireland

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Institutional and economic development has recently returned to the forefront of economic analysis. The use of case studies (both historical and contemporary) has been important in this revival. Likewise, it has been argued recently by economic methodologists that historical context provides a kind of ‘‘laboratory’’ for the researcher interested in real world economic phenomena. Counterterrorism economics, in contrast with much of the rest of the literature on terrorism, has all too rarely drawn upon detailed contextual case studies. This article seeks to help remedy this problem. Archival evidence, including previously unpublished material on the DeLorean case, is an important feature of this article. The article examines how an inter-related strategy, which traded-off economic, security, and political considerations, operated during the Troubles. Economic repercussions of this strategy are discussed. An economic analysis of technical and organizational change within paramilitarism is also presented. A number of institutional lessons are discussed including: the optimal balance between carrot versus stick, centralization relative to decentralization, the economics of intelligence operations, and tit-for-tat violence. While existing economic models are arguably correct in identifying benefits from politico-economic decentralization, they downplay the element highlighted by institutional analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)722-742
Number of pages21
JournalTerrorism and Political Violence
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality

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