Shaping the European School of Intelligence Studies

Wladyslaw Bulhak, Thomas Wegener Friis*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Within a generation, intelligence studies have established themselves in continental Europe. Research infrastructure has been created with journals and conferences. The article explores how a European School of Intelligence Studies (ESIS) differs from the traditional British and American research and which scholars constitute ESIS. This work also presents new methodical proposals (e.g. using a quantitative method for selecting material from the existing empirical data sets), following the requirement that intelligence studies should have an interdisciplinary nature. Our argumentation is based on an analysis of the two main conferences, the conference of the International Intelligence History Association (IIHA) and the Need to Know-format (NtK), and it defines the content of the ESIS based on state of the art. European researchers participating in these fora were primary from Germany, Benelux, the Nordic states, and Central- and Eastern Europe. ESIS shows European West-East unity and strong ties to British, American and Israeli research, it also indicates a North-South divide. The Archival Revolution has been defining for the development of the ESIS. The access to documents regarding all areas of intelligence activity, including operational records and personal files of agents, differs from traditional declassification. This way, it is possible in Europe to do empirical research on intelligence operations in a hitherto unseen scale. Furthermore, the ESIS is characterized by substantial interest to counterintelligence and awareness of the differences between intelligence in democracies and authoritarian regimes.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalThe International Journal of Intelligence, Security, and Public Affairs
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)139-158
    Publication statusPublished - 3. Nov 2020


    • European School of Intelligence Studies (ESIS)
    • intelligence studies
    • International Intelligence History Association (IIHA)
    • Need to Know (NtK)
    • research schools


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