Michael Stohl — Research Interests and Projects

Terrorism; Human Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility; Failed and Fragile States Project


Terrorism is communicatively constituted violence. I have been studying terrorism for the past thirty years and my research on terrorism has explored many facets of the problem including media representations and their implications, organizational networks, counterterrorism and its implications, cyber terror, approaches to the study of terrorism, and state terrorism.

My recent publications on terrorism include:

Grabosky, P. and Stohl, M. 2010 Crime and Terrorism. SAGE: London.

Stohl, C. and Stohl, M., 2011 (forthcoming). "Secret Agencies: The Communicative Constitution of a Clandestine Organization," Organization Studies.

Ross, J. I. and Stohl, M., 2010. "International Terrorism," Chapter 13 in S. Kethineni (Ed.) Comparative International Policing, Justice and Transnational Crime, Durham, North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press, pp. 329-353.

Stohl, M., 2010. "Winners and Losers in the War on Terror: The Problem of Metrics," in Wiliam Thompson and Rafi Reuveny (eds.), Coping with Contemporary Terrorism: Origins, Escalation, Counter Strategies and Responses. Albany: SUNY Press, pp. 349-367.

Myers, P and Stohl, M., 2010, Terrorism, Identity and Boundaries, In Howard Giles, J. Harwood and S. Reid (Eds.), The Evolving Dynamics of Intergroup Communication.

Peter Lang Danis, M. and Stohl, M. "From 7/7 to 8/10: Media framing of terrorist incidents in the United States and United Kingdom," in David Canter (Ed.) The Faces of Terrorism: Cross-Disciplinary Explorations. Wiley-Blackwell.

Stohl, M., 2008 "Networks, terrorists and criminals: the implications for community policing," Crime Law and Social Change

Stohl, M., Myers, P. and Danis, M., 2008. "The Dark Side of WEB 2.0: Criminals, terrorists, the state and cyber security." Harvard Asia Pacific Review.

Stohl, M., 2008. "Old Myths, New Fantasies and the Enduring Realities of Terrorism," Critical Studies in Terrorism, 1, 1, 5-16.

Stohl, M., 2007. "Swamps, Hot Spots, Dick Cheney and the Internationalization of Terrorist Campaigns," Conflict Management and Peace Science, 24:1-18.

Stohl, M. 2007, "Cyber Terrorism: A Clear and Present Danger, The Sum of All Fears, Breaking Point or Patriot Games," Crime, Law and Social Change 46:223-238

Stohl, M. 2006. "Knowledge Claims and the Study of Terrorism," in J. Victoroff, (Ed.). Tangled Roots: Social and Psychological factors in the Genesis of Terrorism. Amsterdam: IOS Press.

Stohl, M. 2006 "Counterterrorism and Repression," in L. Richardson and P. Neumann (Eds.) The Roots of Terrorism: London: Routledge, 2006 pp. 57-69.

Stohl, M. 2006. "The State as Terrorist: Insights and Implications" Democracy and Security, 2:1-25.

Stohl, M. 2005. "National Interests and State Terrorism in International Affairs," in R.H.T. O’Kane (Ed.) Terrorism. London, Edgar Elgar, 2005: (Volume 1) pp. 208-233. reprint of "National Interests and State Terrorism" Political Science, Volume 36, No. 2, July 1984: pp. 37-52.

Grabosky, P. and Stohl, M. 2003. "Cyber Terrorism," Reform 82, Autumn.

Stohl, M. 2003. "Mystery of the New Terrorism" in Charles W. Kegley (ed.) The New Global Terrorism: The Characteristics, Causes, Controls, Prentice Hall, 2003, pp 84-91.

and a longer book chapter on "Myths and Realities of Cyber terrorism." in Countering Terrorism Through International Cooperation, Alex P. Schmid (ed.), ISPAC (International Scientific and Professional Advisory Council of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Program), Vienna, 2001,pp: 70-105.

In addition, in June 2004, I participated in an International Experts meeting on the "root causes of terrorism" under the sponsorship of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Oslo. The meeting was the precursor for a one day meeting on September 22, 2003 in New York featuring about twenty heads of state on the eve of the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. Information on the meeting may be found at here.

My contribution to the meeting was on Expected Utility and State Terrorism and is now published in Root Causes of Terrorism (T. Bjorgo, Ed.) New York and London: Routledge, 2005 pp 198-214.

In March 2005 I participated in the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security in Madrid sponsored by the Club de Madrid to honor the victims of the attacks of March 11, 2004. http://english.safe-democracy.org/

Cynthia Stohl and I participated in the ANU Terrorism Workshop 31 March-1 April 2005. Here are the two presentations we made to the workshop:
The Madrid Agenda
Networks and The War on Terror

Currently, I have three projects on terrorism that I am pursuing. First, I continue to work with former graduate student Mary Danis (now at the University of San Diego) on media representations of terrorism and we have just recently completed a web based experiment which looks at the framing of the terrorist threat and its implications for attitudes towards Muslims, restrictions on civil liberties and counterterrorism policy. We intend to continue exploring the implications in additional experiments.

Secondly, I continue to work with Peter Grabosky of the Australian National University on an Australian Research Council Center of Excellence Grant on Illicit Organisations. This project uses a network analytic approach of three types of illicit organizations that generate a wide range of serious crime problems: youth gangs, conventional criminal organizations (drug suppliers), and terrorist groups. The project aims to explain the characteristics, rise and decline of criminal organizations, and the recruitment and desistance of their members. In the context of the project, I am in the early stages of work on a book on the Rise and Decline of Terrorist Organizations.

Human Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility

In the 1970s I became interested in the problem of responses to human rights violations and creating a data source that was accessible, reliable and trusted that could be used to evaluate current conditions within nations. The data was then used to evaluate the implementation of the human rights standards for United States development assistance decisions. It has been used quite widely by scholars exploring the implementation of human rights policies around the world. Continuing updating of the scale continues under the direction of Mark Gibney at the University of North Carolina Ashville. Information on the scale may be found at: Political Terror Scale (Click here to download a PDF version)

You can view a creative visual use of the scales here.

My most recent research using the scale is United States Foreign Policy and Foreign Assistance

The first of the published articles using the scale was Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Assistance Policy from Nixon to Carter

Most recently I collaborated with Cynthia Stohl to explore the development of the human rights regime in Human Rights, Nation States, and NGOs: Structural Holes and the Emergence of Global Regimes. Communication Monographs, 72, 442-467.

Over the past five years we have combined our interest in human rights with an exploration of corporate social responsibility. The first publication in this area is Stohl, M., Stohl C. and Townsley, N. 2007. "A New Generation of Global Corporate Social Responsibility," in S. May, G. Cheney, and J. Roper (Eds.). The Debates Over Corporate Social Responsibility, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 30-44.

The second is Stohl, C., Stohl , M. and Popova, L., 2009. "A New Generation of Corporate Codes of Ethics," Journal of Business Ethics, 90:607–622.

The most recent is Stohl, M. and Stohl, C., 2010 "Human Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility: Parallel processes and global opportunities for States, Corporations and NGO’s," Sustainability Accounting Management and Policy Journal, 1 51-65.

At present, we are collaborating with graduate student Mathew Carlson in an examination of the development of corporate social responsibility and codes of ethics in the Arab world.

Failed and Fragile States Project

"Failed States" are defined by the patterns of governmental collapse within a nation which often bring demands (because of the refugees they foster, the human rights they abridge and their inability to forestall starvation and disease) which threaten the security of their surrounding states and region. The failed state is considered "utterly incapable of sustaining itself as a member of the international community" (Helman and Ratner, Foreign Policy, 1992) and depends on steady streams of foreign assistance. The list of failed states is growing as they impinge on what Chase, Hill and Kennedy (Foreign Affairs, 1996) referred to as "pivotal states" and their importance as a threat to that region and global security. Consequently, the growth and potential growth, of failed states is of primary importance to the international community in its effort to enhance international peace and security. For the last decade I have coordinated a study group on failed states and have convened the study group annually. Most recently we have collaborated to produce the forthcoming book from Polity Press:

Brock, L., Holm, H.H., Sorensen, G. and Stohl, M., 2011 (forthcoming). Fragile States: Violence and the Failure of Intervention.London: Polity Press.

Click below for more info and my papers as well as the other contributions from our meetings:

1998 Failed States and International Security: Causes, Prospects and Consequences

1999 Failed States and International Security II: Sources of Prevention, Modes of Response, and Conditions of State Success and Renewal

2000 Failed States III: Globalization and the Failed State

2001 Failed States IV: Structures, Cases and Policies

2002 Failed States V: Workshop on Failed States

2004 Rachel Stohl and I published a further failed states article The Failed and Failing State and the Bush Administration

2005 Lothar Brock (the University of Frankfurt), Hans-Henrik Holm (The Danish School of Journalism), Georg Sorensen (Arhus University) and I presented "Why Weak States Persist: Empirical and Juridical Statehood in the New Millennium," at the World International Studies Conference (WISC) First Global International Studies Conference, Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey, 24 – 27 August.

Stohl, R. and Stohl, M., 2008 Failing the Failed: The Bush Administration and Failed States, Harvard International Review, 29, http://hir.harvard.edu/failed-states/failing-the-failed.