The post-Cold War era has seen the emergence of the Private Military Company (PMC), corporate organisations selling force-related services in a global market. As a private entity legitimately providing coercive force, the PMC could potentially challenge the position of the state as the sole meaningful actor in international security. However, this development presupposes that the PMC holds a degree of autonomy from its home state.
This thesis attempts to investigate the relative autonomy of the PMC by asking whether the contracts taken by British-based PMCs internationally in general tend to conflict or converge with British foreign policy interests. After finding the general trend in British PMC behaviour to be convergence with British foreign policy interests, the thesis explores different constraints on PMC activities. It suggests that both rationalist and norm-based constraints combine to discourage PMCs from acting in conflict with British interests: A concern for the company’s future reputation and recent changes in the market for military services makes certain types of jobs less attractive, while deep-held norms of patriotism and loyalty to the state brought on by the PMC managers’ military background heightens the threshold for taking contracts that conflict with British interest. PMCs emerge as new tools of state governance rather than independent actors in international security.