Human Resource Management in Armed Organizations

To sustain their violent operations, armed groups need to recruit reliable violent labour, and then they need to manage it, which implies designing labour contracts that address incentives and motivation. New recruits usually join knowing they will take unusually high life-threatening risks, which often involve murdering other people. Why do individuals make this decision, and what individuals provide more effort in the organization? Within the context of Eastern Congo, in the D.R.C., this project seeks to provide an answer to these questions.

Drawing on a peculiar data collection capacity and relationships established with armed organizations since 2010, the researcher will be able to analyze armed group administrative data, collected monthly since 2015. In addition to that, he will administer pedometer wristbands to new recruit, to track their movements, effort, steps and quality of sleep. This will allow him to examine the effects of: 1) individual exposure to victimization, i.e. how having family members attacked by enemy groups leads to the development of moral motives, which in turn have strong behavioural and physiological implications; 2) targeted "sensibilization" campaigns by the "partner" armed group, i.e. village-level information campaigns, involving no violence, where the group promotes the ideology, reinforcese narratives of victimization and activates underlying moral sentiments; 3) if external and further funds allow, conditional and unconditional cash transfers, to disentangle economic motives from moral ones.

In order to dismantle armed groups, governments and international organizations need to know who joins and why they do so. In fact, this may allow initiatives to restrain recruitment and prevent creating new recruitment opportunities. Understanding the role of moral sentiments, and management practices of armed groups, in the decision to participate in armed groups can help to contribute to more effective development. Moreover, this is an area of research completely novel, for obvious reasons, and this project represents a novel and innovative contribution.


Raúl Sánchez de la Sierra

University of California, Berkeley