Internal terrorists: The terrorists inside organizations

David Van Fleet, Ella W. Van Fleet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose - The paper aims to expand and extend previous work on the role of employees who act in non-violent ways to achieve their personal ends through inducing fear in others in organizations. Design/methodology/approach - The literature surrounding internal terrorists is reviewed and preliminary survey results are presented to support the conclusions derived from that literature. Findings - A model is developed that more carefully identifies how the role of internal terrorists comes about and why they are more likely to engage in non-violent as opposed to violent behavior. Research limitations/implications - Research is needed to identify those aspects of organizations that seem to foster or "bring out" violent and non-violent internal terrorists. Given the differences between internal terrorists and other terrorists, more careful study of those two groups is clearly needed. Since most terrorists express feelings of injustice, stronger links should be attempted between the research on organizational justice and internal terrorism. Just as employee theft has been linked to perceived injustice, so, too, internal terrorism may be linked to higher levels of such perceived injustice. Practical implications - Research is needed to indicate how terrorism evolves over time as well as what measures seem to be most effective in countering such developments within organizations. Of particular interest to practitioners would be determining the extent to which profit-seeking versus non-profit organizations accommodate internal terrorists and the extent to which gender matches between the internal terrorist and the target person are common. Originality/value - This paper fills a gap in the literature about the role of internal terrorists by delineating more fully the dysfunctional role those individuals play in organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)763-774
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Managerial Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2006


  • Fear
  • Internal conflict
  • Organizations
  • Terrorism
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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