THE RUNNING OF THE BEARS: WHEN CONTRACTORS OBSTRUCT U.S. FOREIGN POLICY
Why do firms obstruct the policy goals of the nation that employs them? For nations like the United States that rely on the private sector for their every function, a policy’s success or failure can hinge on a firm—in the case of Iraqi reconstruction after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Blackwater, a private security company, was one such firm. Scholars such as P.W. Singer, Sean McFate, and James Pattison, as well as politicians, Dwight Eisenhower foremost among them, have argued that the military-industrial complex and specifically private security companies pose an inherent danger to nations that contract with these firms. Instead, this thesis holds a more generalizable position that Blackwater’s obstruction to the U.S. mission to rebuild Iraq can be understood using organization theory. This study examines Blackwater’s organizational behavior, organizational culture, and its principal-agent relationship with the United States to explain how Blackwater routinely set back the U.S. mission through use of force incidents against civilians, culminating in the Nisour Square massacre on September 16, 2007, after which Blackwater dramatically softened its posture. Organization theory provides an answer which explains both Blackwater’s impeding of the reconstruction effort from 2004-2007 and its subsequent change in behavior. The primary benefits of this organization theory explanation are twofold: it provides a more compelling answer because it can account for the variation in Blackwater’s impact on the U.S. mission before and after the Nisour Square shootings, and its logic can be applied to any firm that contracts with the U.S. government, not just private security companies.
NotesDegree Awarded: M.A. School of International Service. American University
Degree grantorAmerican University. School of International Service