Dynamic Opponents: Dissident Group Adaptation and Organizational Change Theories Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Carpino, Christine
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • The ability of dissident groups to adapt to changing conditions is vital to their survival and ability to operate. Yet, few scholars examine the process of adaptation itself, independent of expected policy outcomes. How do dissident groups adapt? What factors facilitate or constrain the adaptive process? Why do groups fail to adapt when expected or in anticipated ways? This dissertation addresses these questions by examining dissident group adaptation through the framework of three organizational change theories: population ecology, punctuated equilibrium, and strategic choice. Each theory emphasizes different mechanisms for organizational change and highlights different variables of interest. Population ecology argues that organizational inertia reduces the likelihood of adaptation and anticipates that the majority of change will occur at the population level. Punctuated equilibrium posits that adaptation will occur in short, rapid bursts during which the organizations primary functions and elements will change. Finally, strategic choice emphasizes the role of the dominant coalition in determining the need and scope of adaptation. I then use each theory as a framework for examining the adaptive process of the Palestinian Islamic organization, Hamas. Applying population ecology, punctuated equilibrium and strategic choice to a single case helps illustrate which theory, or which aspects of each theory, provide the greatest leverage in explaining dissident group adaptation. This dissertation finds that strategic choice offers the most comprehensive framework for analyzing change by addressing who decides to adapt, how adaptation occurs and why adaptation occurs.
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  • In Copyright
  • ... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Political Science.
  • Crescenzi, Mark J. C.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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