Recruitment, Retention, and Religion in Rebel Groups (SWP 32)

Resource type
Date created
Author: Gates, Scott
Recruitment and retention are fundamental requirements for any organization. For a rebel group engaged in armed conflict with the state, recruitment and retention of personnel can constitute the difference between life and death for the leadership of the organization and the organization itself. Using a principal–agent analysis of participation and incentive compatibility constraints, we develop a formal model of recruitment and retention in a rebel group with and without contestation. The model better accounts for positive utility from fighting, and therefore helps understand recruitment and retention in a wider set of rebel groups – from loot-seeking organizations motivated by private benefits, to those motivated by communal benefits or ideological or religious principles. We explore the differences between groups of varying degrees of extremist and non-extremist doctrine, focusing on the mobilization to such groups. We demonstrate systematic difference in the capacity of rebel groups and trace this to their recruitment potential.
Scott Gates homepage: Ragnhild Nordas homepage:
ISSN 1922-5725
Published as
Gates, Scott and Ragnhild Nordas, Recruitment, Retention, and Religion in Rebel Groups, Simons Papers in Security and Development, No. 32/2014, School for International Studies, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, January 2014.
Copyright statement
Copyright is held by the author(s).
Scholarly level
Peer reviewed?
Attachment Size
SimonsWorkingPaper32.pdf 1.05 MB