The Business of War: A Content Analysis of Private Military Companies' Websites




Gainer, John

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Purpose: The purpose of this research is to describe the different services offered on websites by a high profile sample of private military companies. An examination of literature related to the private military industry illustrates the history of non-state actors as well as factors that contributed to the post-Cold War growth of the industry. The main factors discussed are the corporatization of service providers and growing trends of privatization during the Cold War. Method: Through the use of a conceptual framework, three descriptive categories were developed. Each descriptive category is comprised of sub-categories that identify a type of service offered in the industry. The descriptive categories are drawn from P.W. Singer's book Corporate Warriors: The rise of the privatized military industry. They are used to connect to website analysis of existing PMCs. The population studied is drawn using members of a private military trade association called the International Peace Operations Association. Using content analysis, a keyword search was conducted of member websites to identify the percentage of companies offering a given service. Findings: The data shows that each descriptive category has one service provided by at least half of the companies in the sample and that more than half of the firms examined provided services in at least two descriptive categories. The overall results indicate that PMCs are equipped to deliver a multitude of services. Additionally, the results show how private military companies have equipped themselves to target market niches with wide-ranging contract specifications.


An Applied Research Project Submitted to the Department of Political Science, Texas State University-San Marcos, in Partial Fulfillment for the Requirements for the Degree of Masters of Public Administration, Fall 2010.


private military, content analysis, foreign policy, Black Water, contracting, executive outcomes, Northbridge Services, XE, war, websites, military companies, private companies, military industry, post-Cold War growth, Public Administration


Gainer, J. (2010). The business of war: A content analysis of private military companies' websites. Masters of Public Administration, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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