Recruitment and selection in violent extremist organizations: Exploring what industrial and organizational psychology might contribute

Samuel T. Hunter, Neil D. Shortland, Matthew P. Crayne, Gina S. Ligon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


For many terrorist organizations, also known as violent extremist organizations (VEOs), their ability to perpetuate violence is often contingent upon successful recruitment and selection of organizational members. Although academic work on terrorist recruitment and selection has improved in recent years, researchers have generally focused more heavily on aspects of radicalization rather than organization attraction and entry. Moreover, a number of terrorism scholars have lamented the lack of conceptual frameworks with which to interpret and extend findings linked to recruitment and selection, specifically. In light of these difficulties, we propose that considering literature bases outside of terrorism may be useful in extending lines of inquiry and offering alternative ways of thinking about how terrorist organizations operate. Specifically, we draw on Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Human Resource Management, and Organizational Behavior literature bases to offer alternative and extended modes of thought on terrorist recruitment and selection. In doing so, we believe both terrorism and more traditional organizational scholars can make substantive and novel contributions to future investigations of increasingly pressing issues surrounding violent extremism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)242-254
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2017



  • Human resource management
  • Industrial psychology
  • Recruitment
  • Selection
  • Violent extremist organizations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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