University of Leicester
2017PEROISJMPhD.pdf (2.33 MB)

Theories of International Relations and the Private Security Analyst: The Scope and Limits of Theoretically Informed Analysis

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posted on 2017-08-02, 14:41 authored by Jean Michel Perois
This thesis addresses a significant yet relatively neglected problem: the inadequacy of risk assessment methods of analysis currently available to security analysts and practitioners serving customers operating in challenging and volatile environments. It also challenges the idea shared by many analysts that theories of International Relations (IR) are irrelevant to the production of security analyses. Towards this end, this thesis begins by exploring the relationship between existing forecasting techniques and theories of IR. It then evaluates the extent to which their use has the potential to expand the analytical capabilities of private security analysts serving corporate customers in such contexts. In considering the possibilities and limitations of IR approaches the thesis finds that Realism alone cannot provide a valid framework to improve private security analysts’ skills, but argues that there are definite advantages to combining this with Constructivism complemented by cultural analysis. These three theoretical components constitute the backbone of an innovative approach to security analysis herein termed Reflexive Cultural Realism; a theory of security designed to explain politically-driven security events in particular social and cultural contexts whilst allowing for forecasting based on an original way of building scenarios. This theory is applied through a specific reading grid (via a 7- step method) at all levels of political activity, from the global to the domestic. Two detailed case studies are provided to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Reflexive Cultural Realism approach. These case studies, located in two of the GCC countries, consider security situations analysts are traditionally confronted with in their daily activities, and demonstrate the utility of the approach in facilitating practical answers to corporate questions. The thesis concludes that the Reflexive Cultural Realism approach, by combining an innovative theoretical framework with a robust application method, is able to satisfy the demands of corporate customers by improving significantly the analytical and forecasting skills of the analysts serving them.



Phythian, Mark; Staples, Kelly

Date of award


Author affiliation

Department of Politics and International Relations

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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