Leadership analysis at a “Great Distance”: using the operational code construct to analyse Islamist leaders
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Operational code analysis was originally designed to analyse the Soviet Politburo members’ political strategies and was codified by George and Walker, Schafer and Young. The approach has mostly been used to analyse individual world leaders, rather than specific political groups. In this article, I use the operational code construct to analyse political Islamists’ belief systems. I discuss issues regarding using the operational code construct in a non-Western political and cultural setting. The first difficulty of using the operational code analysis to analyse political Islamists’ strategies is the diversity of the movement, which led to a certain “level of analysis” problem. Second, whether to use computerised analysis or traditional hand coding was an important decision. Third, some procedures of the operational code research agenda, such as coding only transitive verbs, at times seemed to be in conflict with Turkish and Arabic sentence structures and verbs. Lastly, since the “Western” foreign policy analysis (FPA) theories are not frequently applied in the “global south” cases, I did not have a large body of literature to use while conducting my research. This article discusses the “boundedness” of the operational code analysis in analysis of non-Western individual leaders and political movements by discussion of these issues and others.