Pizza, Politics & Private Security

Last Friday and on invitation by Dr. Tim H. Stuchtey, director of the BIGS (Brandenburgisches Institut für Gesellschaft und Sicherheit gGmbH), I held a talk at the BIGS PizzaSeminar – right in the center of Berlin. The BIGS PizzaSeminar offered the unique opportunity to present preliminary research results of my dissertation project “The Political Economy of Private Security” to an audience of experts from academia, business, and politics – lured to the talk by the interesting topic of private security as well as by the delicious pizza.

First, I introduced the audience to the heterogeneous landscape of private security services in the EU by highlighting the differences between member states in the number of private security personnel – both in relation to population and police officers – and in the industries’ turnover. In addition, I reported on three possible indicators which measure the degree of a country’s private security regulation. In the second part of my talk, I offered an overview of my qualitative work and the three regulatory case studies of private security regulation policy processes. The applied process tracing strongly suggests three main drivers: individual actors (entrepreneurs), organized interests, and path dependent decision-making. These appear to be causally responsible for the policy output and should thus be looked at when trying to determine responsible factors driving the variance of private security regulation in the EU.

Scatterplot of the quality of private security regulation and turnover

Finally, and coming to the main question of the talk, I cautiously presented  very preliminary and basic calculations on a possible correlation between the degree of regulation and the scope of the national private security industries. So far the statistics suggest a somewhat mild but positive link between regulation and turnover as well as a market’s concentration – influenced by some outliers. Due to the absence of more and better data, the analysis has to stop here and needs to remain quite critical concerning its results. Yet the answers found encourage to continue the valuable research on private security from a political science perspective.

Helge Staff

[photo by BIGS, figure by the author]