Turf wars are a staple of organizational politics. They occur when actors within an organization (or sometimes between collaborative organizations) engage in competition over areas of bureaucratic control, resources, or advancement of goals and objectives (individual as well as organizational). This competition diverts energy and effort from other endeavors while creating tension and social friction between rival actors. Turf war combatants may deliberately withhold resources and information from one another, or may use their organizational authority to weaken or counter demands and requirements imposed by other groups. In highly pathological turf wars, organizations can fracture completely as actors and their representatives attempt to deliberately stymie or sabotage the efforts of internal competitors.
As a cultural threat, turf wars involving security can result in a breakdown of posture that introduces significant risk to the organization. Silos and organizational fiefdoms may develop outside the influence or reach of central security management. In some cases, central management may cease to exist or may be relegated to a small security team with no real authority to impose security related to people, process, or technology on any other part of the organization. Decentralized security is not necessarily a product of turf wars, as there are many reasons organizations may wish to federate or devolve security efforts. But in situations where security becomes a mechanism by which actors fight for turf, the organization's overall protective posture can be impaired, sometimes severely.