Security Studies Students Win Best Paper Award

Christopher Faulkner and Joshua Lambert, both a part of the Security Studies Ph.D. program, won the 2017 Florida Political Science Association’s (FPSA) Best Graduate Paper Award for their paper titled, “Sign on the Dotted Line: Contracting Private Military and Security Companies in African Civil Wars.”  Christopher and Joshua presented their paper at the 2017 FPSA Annual Meeting on April 2nd, 2017.

The Florida Political Science Association (FPSA) is a professional association of scholars and students from public and private institutions in the state of Florida who serve to encourage political science research and education. The FPSA also publishes the Florida Political Chronicle, an academic journal.

In their paper, Faulkner and Lambert examine why leaders choose to contract private military and security companies (PMSCs) during civil war. Noting that scholars have continued to investigate the impact these organizations have on the dynamics of civil conflict, they show that little has been done to investigate states’ decisions to contract these organizations. They theorize that militarily weak governments relative to their rebel adversaries should be more likely to seek outside assistance from PMSCs.  Analyzing all African civil wars from 1990 to 2008, their findings run counterintuitive to their theoretical expectations.  In situations where rebel groups appear to be stronger relative to the government, the likelihood of a government contracting a PMSC decreases.  Faulkner and Lambert conclude that this result may be due to PMSCs’ decision making calculus—i.e. they are less likely to fight in conflicts where rebels are strong out of fear of reputational damage that may result from poor performance.

“I am grateful for the opportunity provided by the UCF Security Studies program.  Mentorship and collaboration are important for academic development,” said Joshua, a first year doctoral student. “Joshua and I were excited to receive the news that our paper was selected as the best graduate student paper at this years FPSA.  UCF has performed well at FPSA in recent years and we are glad that we could continue the tradition,” added Christopher, a PhD candidate in the Security Studies doctoral program.

Christopher and Joshua would like to extend a special thank you to Dr. Powell, Dr. Dolan, and Dr. Boutton for their assistance in developing this project.  In addition, they would like to thank fellow graduate students Clayton Besaw and Rebecca Schiel for their invaluable feedback.”

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