Evolving a Discipline
of Security
Martin Gill
Although security as a form of activity has a long history, the formal academic study of
it is a much recent affair. Indeed, the discipline of security is still evolving. One paper has
lamented the lack of research, the lack of academics interested in security, and the lack of
PhDs on the topic,
and according to these criteria, the state of the security discipline is
poor. Indeed, a “Special Issue” of the Security Journal, now the most established refereed
journal in this area, was devoted to assessing the current state of security knowledge. While
the papers were generally optimistic about the discipline moving forward, some lamented
the fact that it had not moved very far in the previous two decades. For example, Giever
noted that the discipline is immature, lacks funding, and is evidenced by the lack of scien-
tific research. Beck,
and Grabosky
all highlighted the fact that many of the problems
that existed in previous years, including poor quality data and the lack of economic analyses
of security cases, still characterized security today.
Indeed, despite the large amount of criminological work on a variety of different types
of victims, there is still very little research on offences within, by, and against organizations.
There are numerous very good studies on crime, crime prevention, management, and risk, but
few attempts have been made to integrate the knowledge and experience being gained, not
in a security context. And there has been little effort within the security sector for practitio-
ners and academics to learn from each other. Each has worked in relative isolation, and thus
there has been a lack of critical thinking on the links between theory and practice: academics
are suspicious of solutions to problems whose impact has not been precisely measured, while
practitioners on the other hand dislike the delay inherent in the academic process, claiming
that the commercial realities demand a swift reaction. Moreover, practitioners are sometimes
Director of Perpetuity Research and Consultancy International, a spinout from the University of
Leicester, m.gill@perpetuitygroup.com.
E. Borodzicz and S. Gibson (2006). Corporate security education: Towards meeting the challenge.
Security Journal 19(3):180–195.
D. Giever (2007). Security education: Past, present and the future. Security Journal 20(1):
A. Beck (2007). The emperor has no clothes: What future role for technology in reducing retail
shrinkage? Security Journal 20(1):57–61.
M. Gill (2007). The challenges for the security sector: Thinking about security research. Security
Journal 20(1):27–30.
P. Grabosky (2007). Security in the 21st century. Security Journal 20(1):9–12.
Given that the interest here is in workplaces, the use of “business” is contentious. The word “organi-
zation” better reflects the fact that workplaces exist in the voluntary and public sectors. It is, however, a
less familiar word in this context. In this chapter, they will both be used to denote workplaces.

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