Why culture matters?
: an analysis of complexity, acceptance and effectiveness of security sector governance in Ghana and Nigeria

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Security Sector Reform and Governance (SSR/G) processes in West Africa have been ongoing for about two decades now in societies in post-conflict recovery and peacebuilding or statebuilding phases of transition. These security reform interventions have largely followed a pro-Western or liberal peace approach and thus considered as foreign and facilitating neo-imperialist tendencies which does not promote change and transformation within the security and development nexus. It also focuses more on the ‘hard’ side of security and governance reforms rather than complementing this with the ‘soft’ aspects reflected mainly in acquiring the right security cultures which entail shared values, norms and customs for the desired transformation needed.

This study, therefore, argues for re-conceptualising the SSR/SSG approach by focusing more on the endogenous security context which explores why culture matters in SSR/SSG and whether acquiring the right security culture, that is shared norms, values and standards for safety and well-being, could minimise the complexity and facilitate the acceptance and effectiveness of security sector governance in the comparative cases of Ghana and Nigeria.

The methodology for this research was based on the qualitative research method, given the exploratory nature of the study which focuses mainly on human behaviour, shared values, norms and principles with the tendency of bias and subjective interpretation. It adopted the critical theorist approach for the research, while using the grounded theory as a means to establishing the theoretical proposition for the study within the comparative case study strategy.

It concludes that shared norms and values on safety, protection and freedom from fear, influence the acceptance and commitment towards security sector reform and governance efforts, hence imbibing the appropriate security cultural values, norms and practices by both state and sub-state actor groups, would ensure the needed change and transformation towards successful statebuilding processes in West Africa.
Date of Award1 Jan 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorSukanya Podder (Supervisor) & Funmi Olonisakin (Supervisor)

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