"Paradoxical alchemy" : an examination of the New Zealand Special Operations Forces' relationships in key security networks : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Defence and Security Studies at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Massey University
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Drawing on thirty-five interviews with senior military and security personnel, this thesis investigates how the New Zealand Special Operations Forces (NZSOF) maintain their relationships across three key security networks. The three networks are the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), the New Zealand National Security Sector (NZNSS), and the Five Special Operations Forces (5SOF). The thesis specifically focuses on how the NZSOF formally and informally engage within these network relationships. The research identifies fifteen common characteristics that the NZSOF exhibit when engaging in these relationships. It then analyses two additional overarching characteristics displayed across these three networks: commonality and utility. Once the characteristics are defined, it then examines how the seventeen relational characteristics feed into the NZSOF's relational dynamics. The thesis finds that, at times, paradoxical relationships can also occur when liminality, ambiguity, and tension manifest in these relational dynamics. The research argues that the NZSOF have two possible approaches to these paradoxes, either to resolve them through changing their relational characteristics, potentially sacrificing their relational dynamism, or they can harness their paradoxical characteristics to support their security relationships, that also potentially comes at a cost. The thesis concludes by exploring the latter option which requires the NZSOF to employ a paradoxical alchemy, to hold the tensions in balance. However, alchemy is not a simple proposition; it is an inherently complex idea that necessitates active management, creativity, and more than a little magic. This will be the future challenge for the NZSOF's contemporary security relationships.
New Zealand Special Operations Forces, Interorganizational relations, Special forces (Military science), New Zealand