Local researchers, international practitioners, and security sector reform in Kosovo

  • Jacob Phillipps

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis addresses the principal question: what role is played by the local security epistemic community in Kosovo’s security sector reform (SSR)? The background and context is the legacy of Kosovo’s brutal war. Following violent conflict, international intervention sought to restore stability and peace through extensive reform, including a new security architecture. Subsequently, Kosovo has endured long-term SSR driven by executive international actors. The central problem of the study is the effectiveness of internationally-driven SSR. The thesis argues that Kosovo’s SSR has been heavily driven by international knowledge rather than the context-sensitive evidence of the local epistemic community, with negative implications for the legitimacy and sustainability of reform. Academic research has followed suit, prioritising the study of international SSR actors, rather than the local. This PhD research addresses this gap in the SSR literature and knowledge by studying the role of local researchers in Kosovo’s SSR. The analytical approach applied concepts that stress hybridity in post-conflict contexts and research use in policy-making to explore researcher-practitioner interaction. Centred on an analysis of new evidence based on an extensive interview survey of international SSR practitioners and local researchers in Kosovo, public perception data, and local research papers, this thesis investigates how local research has engaged with, challenged and contributed to international SSR. The findings provide an original contribution to the study of local and international agency in post-conflict SSR and raises important questions regarding the practices of international organisations that do not value local expertise. The main findings are that a local security research community is an established part of Kosovo’s SSR; local researchers challenge international SSR and provide alternative approaches; researchers and practitioners have built enduring relationships; the nature of individual practitioner and researcher personality is a critical factor determining practitioner-researcher engagement; local research has contributed to practitioner knowledge and decision-making.
Date of AwardSept 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorAlexander Kazamias (Supervisor) & Neil Renwick (Supervisor)

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