UKRI FLF PB Transformation of Transatlantic Counter-Terrorism

Project: Research council

Project Details


This fellowship addresses two salient and inter-related questions in current counter-terrorism. First, why and how have counter-terrorism organisations in the transatlantic space transformed since 9/11? Second, given that a lack of trust remains a key inhibitor for better information exchange, how can it be improved? These themes are integrated in three research questions: 1/ Does a Post-Fordist conceptual framework enhance understanding of transatlantic CT transformation? 2/ What are the implications of this transformation for trust and information exchange? 3/ How can trust be improved?

To address these questions the fellowship follows two research strands. The first addresses an acknowledged lack of theory in the literature on US and EU CT organisation by providing a major new theoretical explanation of the profound transformation of CT intelligence and policing since 9/11. It will apply a Post-Fordist framework originally used in industrial sociology to better understand the organisational solutions adopted by CT communities. When placed in the wider context of societal change, Post-Fordism's central organisational tenets of outsourcing; a network approach; core-periphery divide; and centralisation and de-centralisation will break new ground in understanding why and how transatlantic CT transformation has occurred. Other military sociology theories will give illuminating new perspectives on top-down innovative or bottom-up adaptive drivers of transformation; the development of professional status and organisational capabilities; the militarisation of police CT responses; and the implications of this transformation for organisational cohesion, trust and liaison, providing the richest sociological analysis to date.
Building on three years of research and exploiting the applicant's unique CT network, the second strand follows the end of strand 1 by developing trust and capacity building through the pilot and refinement of a transatlantic CT Centre of Excellence (CoE). Identified by practitioners as sorely needed to help build trust between mid-level operational personnel, it will do so through the development of a syllabus focused on the sharing of operational and organisational lessons, the standardisation of terminology, and the development of trust. As demonstrated by the supporting letters, successful delivery of the CoE will have major international practical impact. With the Post-Fordist transformation context, it will also generate new data on trust building and liaison in this domain.

The argument that there has been a transformation of transatlantic CT since 9/11, and that Post-Fordism best explains this, is controversial. Transformation has not been uniform, and many national CT organisations remain resistant, or unable, to change. Nevertheless, there is evidence to suggest that Post-Fordism explains the broad trajectory of CT organisation. To make this argument, the project will first gather data on US, EU and selected EU Member States CT organisation prior to 9/11 to establish a comparative evidential base using primary and secondary sources. Second, using interviews with policymakers and practitioners involved in organisational change, the applicability of the Post-Fordist framework will be analysed, along with top-down and bottom-up drivers of CT transformation. Third, using practitioner interviews and fieldwork observations, some of the lower-level micro sociological aspects of this CT transformation will be examined, such as the militarisation of police CT responses and the importance of professionalism. Fourth, organisational cohesion, trust and liaison in the CT community will be examined through engagement with CoE attendees. Senior practitioners on the Advisory Board will ensure research oversight, while a conference to elucidate key lessons learnt from both strands will occur towards the end of the fellowship.
Effective start/end date1/02/2031/01/24


  • UK Research & Innovation

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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