2017-Kieran Conroy

Training for Short Term International Assignees of Private Security Companies in Conflict Areas

Dr Kieran Conroy, Queen’s University Belfast

Co-Investigator: Dr Alexis Bushnell, Queen’s University Belfast


Project summary:

This study explores the role of international contractors in private security companies who embark on international assignments in conflict areas. Using a case study design of the private security industry, we explore how international contractors are prepared, trained or supported in enacting global work in dangerous locations characterised by significant instability, volatility and turmoil. We draw from two very distinct fields of study, namely management studies on global staffing within the global organisations and studies on private security companies, in framing our research scope. Management theory calls for a greater understanding of the distinctive challenges that global workers confront while assignment in conflict areas as well a show they cope with these. Equally, research on private security companies largely overlooks the importance of supporting these workers through various training and support structures. A central finding from our study is that private security companies provide very little structured support for international contractors, and their HR activities are carried out on an informal basis through social contacts. Moreover, we find that international contractors operate in precarious positions as flexible forms of labour for private security companies, and largely draw on their own specialised human capital in coping with and adjusting to working in global conflict locations. Our study contributes to current research in management and private security companies as well as to practice in understanding of how international contracting is a unique yet valuable form of global work that needs to be more effectively supported.