Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Security) Honours


School of Science

First Supervisor

Dr David Brooks

Second Supervisor

Dr Michael Coole


Corporate security is a practicing domain and developing academic discipline that provides for the protection of people, information and assets, as well as the self-protection of organisations. Fayol (1949) articulated such an activity within organisations to be a core business function of significant importance; embedding security operations within all aspects of organisational work. This embedded nature of security within organisations has led to difficulty in the literature delineating roles and responsibilities of security practitioners; consequently leading to a nebulous understanding of security as a whole. Therefore, an investigation of the corporate security stratum of work has been undertaken to address this issue in part, undertaking an innovative, objective approach. The study embraced the broader socio-organisational literature to ground and orient the research, providing an outward-in perspective in its exploration of the corporate security function.

The research perspective was rooted in the sociological theory of structural functionalism, where Parsons (1951) and Durkheim (1984) identified an occupational stratum of work seated within a differentiated and stratified society. Such a society induces individuals to fulfil specialist roles, which can be ranked hierarchically along a stratum of work. Significantly, organisations are the practical implementation of this occupational stratum of work, with specialist roles aligned hierarchically and controlled through positions of authority. Jaques (1951, 2002) articulated seven strata of work within organisations, each delineated by their capacity to understand complexity and capability to manage tasks into the future.

This study undertook an ethnographic approach, consisting of two parts. Firstly, the literature critique informed the design and implementation of the research instrument; which consisted of two tools. Secondly, the administration of the research instrument to the participant sample, which was refined through a pilot study (N=16) and then applied to the main study (N=42). The study identified a suitable sample consisting of security practitioners functionally positioned across the stratum of work, with this sample being purposively selected.

Significantly, the study revealed a disconnect between the corporate security and socioorganisational literature, with many points of divergence. Such disconnect is rooted in a misperception of the importance and positioning of the corporate security function by the corporate security literature. Therefore, the study has revealed that corporate security operates at a tactical and operational level within an organisation, functionally positioned between Stratum One and Stratum Four. This finding indicates that the concept of corporate security as a strategic function with executive reach is invalid, and the existence of a strategic security practitioner is not the norm. Furthermore, the study has established the corporate security function as an operating activity situated within the technostructure of organisations; leveraging its ability to diagnose, infer, and treat discipline specific concerns.

Subsequently, these findings have uncovered several significant implications for policy, education, academia, and the broader community. These implications include career progression pathways and an understanding of the glass ceiling for security practitioners; professionalisation of the industry, including insights into corporate perceptions of the function; corporate security practitioner role definition and articulation, where defined jurisdictional boundaries can be begin to be drawn; and the fallout of a misaligned corporate security literature consensus.