Guns for Hire: Motivations and Attitudes of Private Security Contractors


Political Science and International Affairs

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Whereas the values, attitudes, and motivations of soldiers serving in their countries' armed forces have been widely studied, to date we know very little about the motivations and occupational self-perceptions of individuals working for the private security industry. Using data obtained through an online survey, this article explores the values and attitudes of more than 200 private contractors with law enforcement backgrounds and operational experience providing armed security services in conflict regions. Contrary to media-dominating images of ruthless, money-grabbing mercenaries, respondents in our sample displayed attitudes comparable to those of military professionals, adhering to high levels of professionalism and ethical conduct and motivated largely by altruistic factors.