Front Line of Defense Research Paper

Pages: 9 (2583 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Military

Likewise, organizational behaviorists have also examined the broad array of other human resource practices in the various military services over the years. In this regard, Griffin and O'Leary-Kelly report that organizational behavior studies have shown that "some of the strongest resistance to diversity occurs when there is a highly autonomous group with elite status. For example, Special Forces units in the military are coming under increasing criticism for their exclusion of minorities and women" (2004, p. 149). The success of the recent operation against Osama bin Laden will undoubtedly provide the Navy SEAL team members and similarly situated elite forces within the military a powerful argument in support of their existing recruitment methods and eligibility criteria, but this argument might never have taken place at all had it not been for the use of organizational behavior methods to examine these practices in the first place.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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Research Paper on Front Line of Defense and Assignment

Other recent applications of organizational behavior methods in the military include helping decision-makers tasked with developing a better understanding of how social norms contribute to the organizational culture that is in place. For instance, Griffin and O'Leary-Kelly (2004) report that, "Norms can provide a context for what is deemed fair and right, and also for what is appropriate in terms of retaliation. Being ridiculed by a superior officer may be tolerated more in some settings (for example, by someone serving in the military) than others (say, a receptionist at a university) because of differences in an organization's culture" (p. 391). This difference in organizational culture is directly related to the mission of the U.S. armed forces which, especially during times of declared war, ultimately relate to the use of military might against hostile forces. This basic need means that the example of the superior officer ridiculing a subordinate could be viewed as a motivational attempt to save the subordinate's life by making him or her more combat ready. Indeed, it is this same use of authority in heavy-handed ways that typify basic training in all of the armed forces, but this is not only tolerated, it is actively encouraged and embraced by all of the stakeholders because of this overriding recognition that lives are at stake and the quality of training received will help service members survive on the battlefield, in the skies and on or under the oceans. In sum, then, it is reasonable to suggest that organizational behavior theories and models can help illuminate how these practices define organizational culture in the military.

The need to understand the military's organizational culture is important because it has a corresponding effect on organizational behavior. In this regard, Smith (1998) reports that, "To the extent that such behavior spurs excellence in mission accomplishment through competition, it is seen as positive. However, sometimes it leads to dysfunctional results, and no easy or immediate solution exists" (p. 40). Moreover, organizational culture can be formidable and highly resistant to change, particularly among organizations such as the armed forces with long histories and legacies that continue to influence their operation today. For instance, Smith advises that, "Organizational culture changes slowly and primarily in response to internal pressures to adapt to a changed operational environment, not in response to external direction. True organizational change requires a cultural transformation-not simply accommodation and incremental modification but changed organizational output in terms of structure, professional incentives, and changed professional behaviors" (1998, p. 40). The steps needed to achieve substantive and lasting changes in organizational culture in the armed forces, then, would likely mirror those that have been shown to be effective in the past in military settings depending on their degree of applicability, including the following:

1. Recognition of pressures due to changes in the organization's external environment;

2. Perception that existing performance is inadequate;

3. Formulation of a new organizational strategy (planned outputs, goals, and objectives) to meet the changed environment;

4. Modification of the organization's structure to accommodate new tasks and relationships;

5. Transformation of the organization's culture to meet the realigned elite professions and their relative priorities, and,

6. Changed output in terms of organizational performance and product as a result of the new strategy, structure, and culture (Smith, 1998, p. 41).

These foregoing steps were followed by the U.S. Air Force to effect a change in the organizational culture that was needed to embrace new philosophical approaches to air warfare and a reduction in its strategic core mission following the end of World War II as well as to implement lessons learned following the Air Forces' experience in the first Gulf War (Smith, 1998).


The research showed that while it is apparent that the United States armed forces are especially suitable for the use of organizational behavioral techniques, the mission of the military is fundamentally different from virtually any other type of organization. Therefore, there is a corresponding need to ensure that conventional organizational behavior methods used in other settings are fine-tuned by taking this overarching difference into account. Beyond this important need, though, the research was also consistent in showing that the armed forces tend to operate in many of the same ways as other types of hierarchal organizations that are characterized by well defined lines of authority and multiple layers of bureaucracy. The research also showed that notwithstanding the significant sacrifices being made and dedication being demonstrated by members of the armed forces in carrying out their assigned missions, people are just people and it is important to have adequate reward systems that are in place that will encourage service members to remain in the military so that their hard-won and expensive training is not lost to more attractive jobs in the civilian sector. Finally, the research showed that thoughtfully applied and interpreted, organizational behavior methods can be used in effective ways in helping effect meaningful change in the armed forces.


Gates, R.M. (2008, September 29). National Defense University. U.S. Department of Defense

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Greenberg, J. (2003). Organizational behavior: The state of the science. Hillsdale, NJ:

Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Griffin, R.W. & O'Leary-Kelly, A.M. (2004). The dark side of organizational behavior.

San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Komer, B. (1976). Bureaucracy does its thing. In Gates at 37.

Lenzi, S. (2009). Ricochets and replies. Air & Space Power Journal, 23(1), 21-22.

Marutollo, F. (1999). Organizational behavior in the Marine Corps: Three interpretations.

New York: Praeger Publishers.

Miner, J.B. (2002). Organizational behavior: Foundations, theories, and analyses. Oxford:

Vigoda-Gadot, E. &… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Front Line of Defense.  (2011, May 9).  Retrieved May 11, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Front Line of Defense."  9 May 2011.  Web.  11 May 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Front Line of Defense."  May 9, 2011.  Accessed May 11, 2021.