Opening Pandora's Box? Theorising the Commercialisation of Military Force in the post-Cold War World.

  • Daniel Street

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The commercialisation of military services has increased in importance since the end of the Cold War. Commercial Military Service Providers (CMSPs) have found increased respectability and worked in states on every continent. Writing on CMSPs has similarly increased. Several high profile incidents have come under intense scrutiny, and has led to some portions of the literature demonising their use. However, there are still conceptual and theoretical issues which have been under explored. This thesis contributes to the literature which has sought to address this theoretical lacuna. Historical Sociology and comparative analysis are employed to analyse the implications of CMSP use on the state. A modified version of the Ideological, Economic, Military and Political (IEMP) model developed by Michael Mann, is used to theorise the impact of commercial security providers on existing sources of power within the state, and the relationship between them. The thesis uses two case studies which are representative of the use of CMSPs during this time period. The Sierra Leone Civil War and the invasion and reconstruction of Iraq since 2003. It will be argued that CMSPs alter the balance between power structures within the state, positively and negatively affecting the power of the state. The short term use of CMSPs has proven to be useful and of increasing importance; especially when military weakness is an urgent problem. However, although there has been no example of CMSPs intentionally threatening state stability, they can also subvert the power of the state. CMSPs, particularly when used for an extended period, have undermined the relationship between the sources of power, undermining political stability. Most significantly they weakened the state by undermining the strength it gains from its embeddedness in society.
Date of Award15 Jun 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAdrian Hyde-Price (Supervisor) & Bill Durodie (Supervisor)


  • Private Military Companies
  • PMCs
  • Private Security
  • Iraq
  • Sierra Leone
  • Historical Sociology
  • Michael Mann
  • Barry Buzan
  • The State

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