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Organization Behavior Concepts on the US Army Essay

Many organizations today offer unique perspectives into the possibilities for organizational structure, culture and behavior. Given the United States’ system of government and inherent freedoms, these areas are not often easily controlled or mandated. Corporations tend to impart a “feel-good” attitude were employees are asked to be nice to one another and the hierarchy seeks to keep a stable, friendly atmosphere. Promotions are based on performance evaluations, sometimes aligned with the contents of a grievance folder.

If any grievances have been filed against an individual, these items are considered during the promotion process, but the contents are not standardized typically. The US Army handles this entire environment differently. Personnel voluntarily sign up with the organization, but are there after held to a strict moral code for three to eight years. The US Army has created a model of organizational structure, which gives them direct control over its anticipated culture and behavior. Reprimands are swift and complete.

This paper will consider the many aspects of US Army organization and the impacts this has on three Main Organizational Behavior concepts as presented in the 2005 Robbins text: Organizational Structure, Organizational Culture and Group Behavior, suggesting the US Army has created an efficient and proscriptive model. The Viet Nam war caused many changes within the US Army. The conflicts and reprimands of soldiers from civilian and military personnel increased because of this Conflict. Theft and dishonesty grew from the distinct depression of morale in soldiers, causing a ripple effect of poor behavior.

The US Army formed a committee to address the issue, which met at Fort Ord in California. Organizational Effectiveness grew from this time, giving the Army its own program to change the behaviors and attitudes of it members. “The Merit Reward System evolved from this project. Trainees and cadre members were rewarded for behavior that was clearly related to high performance and to high morale,” (Deaner, 1991, p. 13). This particular aspect of the former system lives on as a mainstay in US Army culture.

In offering a payment for soldier behavior as well as performance, the US Army sets itself apart from the usual difficulties of control. Soldiers are beholden to its employers for the length of their contract, defunct behavior landing them in an “employee jail” or the brig. But, this overall control also allows the US Army to solely promote from within, reward through medals and advancement, and to offer prime employment locations through station selection. This reward structure is not available to other organizations, setting the US Army apart in its control of Organizational Structure and Culture, as well Group Behavior.

The US Army no longer uses Organizational Effectiveness program. Its failing has been labeled as self-inflicted” by Deaner (1991, p. 18) although it is still used by outside organizations today. The basic principles as tested in the former system have evolved into a much more efficient and serviceable behavior model. Leadership remains the focal point in controlling the atmosphere in any organization. “In choosing the most appropriate procedures for developing leaders, an organization must first determine what leadership precisely entails,” (Campbell & Dardis, 2004, p. 27).

The US Army has developed a definitive set of cultural guidelines for its organization. Leaders are expected to possess certain qualities, which will not only allow them the capacity to perform, but also to guide and influence others to do the right thing. In maintaining this strict code of ethics through promotion and contractual continuation, the US Army offers a unique perspective on Group Behavior, Organizational Structure and Culture. This format has been aligned into what is known as the “Be, Know, Do” model.

Shaped and modeled by actual experience in developing officers and non-commissioned officers in the different branches of the U. S. Army, various drafts and versions of the BKD model have influenced Army leadership doctrine for over 50 years. Thus, the Army’s long-term continuing reliance on the model offers strong evidence of its robustness,” (Campbell & Dardis, 2004, p. 27). This model offers a construct for the entire premise behind the core value system imbedded within the structure of the US Army. Group behavior is aligned through a definitive chain of expectation prior to advancement to higher paying status.

Cadence to control stepping in the same foothold, formations to align each body within the group, uniform control: all of these contribute to the maintenance of group behavior, offering individuals the chance to see themselves as a working part of a group. “Now a typical American soldier has a high school diploma, and many are college-educated. More than 50 percent of the military service members are married, and many have children attending the US Department of Defense dependent school system,” (Macdonald & Myers, 2005, p. 18). This distinct change in personnel adds to the efficiency of the US Army machine.

Increasingly educated, ethics are becoming a fundamental staple in US Army culture. Although there are obvious inconsistencies (as with the Iraqi Prisoner of War scandal), the US Army still emerges as a leader in influencing the moral and ethical decisions its employees make. The most obvious difference between the US Army culture and that of typical business organizations comes from the complete sense of community created. “Like all civilian cities or counties, on-base military neighborhoods have key stakeholders that contribute to the growth of the entire community,” (MacDonald & Myers, 2005, p. 1).

Where the typical corporation has employees living anywhere they chose, many US Army employees live either on base, or very near by. This close proximity offers the employees a direct influence on their environment and living arrangements. The spouses of employed personnel are involved in the “company” as it were. Complete communities are created to draw the family units of personnel into the mix, offering shopping centers, gas stations, libraries, schools, hospitals and even its own selections of medical personnel. Every aspect of life is shared and standardized.

Cookie-cutter style housing offers levels of improvement within the ranking status. Similar-ranked people are afforded duplicate housing, often times on the same street or area of the base. High-ranking officials live in homes of higher value, yet still grouped in the same area of the base. This allows the employees a chance to solidify their performance and solidify the cohesiveness of the group. If an employee wants the better housing, salary and playground, he or she must gain education, perform admirably and meet specified standards in performance.

The rewards are visibly set before the individual to further entice coherence and unity. A study performed by Pascale, Millemann and Goija considered the cultural differences in Sears, Shell and the US Army searching for key identifiers in how the culture of these organizations are affected by the employees in terms of culture within the companies. They concluded “power, identity, conflict and learning” were the base elements in these organizations (Pascale, Millemann & Goija, 1997, p. 129).

Nowhere is the transformational power of re-socialization more evident than at three highly unusual U. S. Army training centers-at Fort Irwin, California; Fort Polk, Louisiana; and Hoenfelds, Germany. In fact, the training is sufficiently remarkable to have been studied by the chief education officers at Shell, Sears, Motorola, and GE, and by senior delegations from every country in Western Europe, Russia, and most nations of Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. ” (Pascale, Millemann & Goija, 1997, p. 134) The US Army has proven itself a leader in the creation of group behavior inline with the culture mandated by the organization.

The interest of some many other countries indicates the US Army is an innovator in terms of structure and culture when sending troops and families off to become a part of another base. The culture remains under the same umbrella, allowing each a smooth transition despite the massive size of the organization. The very nature of military structure is unified in many countries. Soldiers are most often located in a central area, with families supported directly from the pay of the soldiers in question.

In maintaining the group atmosphere of the military units, the governments expect, and often see a solidified goal structure. Group effectiveness is the extent to which explicit groups goals, that are assigned by the organization, are achieved. The successful attainment of such goals includes both the quality of group outputs as well as their timeliness,” (Langfred, 2000, p. 569). Although Langfred did an empirical study of the Danish Army to prove his theories of unit cohesion, the structure of the tests directly applies to the US Army as well. Cohesiveness in terms of group goals and communications were paramount in forming the cohesive units required for standardization.

The US Army, however, is a leader in community structure in that the support often far-outreaches the constructs of similar organizations. The uniformity is across the board in terms of family support, job description, promotional evaluations and ethical standards. The beginnings of the US Army are directly connected to its cohesiveness of today. Originally designed as a conscription service where legions were formed by required participation of any and all applicable men, the organization itself has transformed into a voluntary unit of men and women.

Originally devised from people of all age, economic and social stratus, anyone can now enlist provided they have at least a General Education Diploma (GED). The elitist nature from the past of the upper echelon serving as officers, and their subsequent promotions based on time-in-service over actual performance has changed drastically. According to an article written by Andrew Birtle, the change took a long time, but now allows anyone proving their worth and moral code can advance. Socio-economic status no longer remains as a qualifier for promotion or advancement.

Although not a perfect system by any means, nepotism being obvious in some lines of service, the US Army provides a distinct design for the creation of cohesiveness and unification across behavior and cultural lines of organization (2003). The US Army has taken the advantages and cultural mores within its organization and applied them to harmony among all lines, to include race relations. “The Army has no peer in its broad record of promotions of blacks to positions of influence,” (Racial Integration, 2001, p. 35).

Although not perfect by any means, the US Army still maintains this distinct line of communication and promotion for all its soldiers. Within each unit, the Army maintains an Equal Opportunity Officer who will listen and record any and all forms of complaint due to discrimination, sexual, racial, or other. All complaints are written down and added to applicable personnel files following a thorough investigation. At each promotional stage in the soldiers career, these files are considered, thus offering a distinct incentive to avoid disharmony or bigoted hate.

“The Army is probably the only important institution in the U. S. where whites don’t get promoted if they show racist behavior,” (Racial Integration, 2001, p. 35). In conclusion, the US Army offers a unique environment controlling and influencing the Organizational Culture and Group Behavior through its differentiated Organizational Structure. In maintaining a similar environment for soldiers and their families, the US Army homogenizes the livelihood of its employees through unification across the board. The promotional structure offered directly entices soldiers to conform in order to gain a better life and environment for themselves and their families.

Although not easily duplicated in the business world, many companies have studied the US Army for innovative approaches to standardizing their own commercial culture. “The first step toward restoring organizational vitality is to engage every employee in the company’s principal challenges,” (Pascale, Millemann & Gioja, 1997, p. 131). The model used by the US Army controls the majority of situations within its construct and if studied further would offer commercial enterprises a blueprint applicable to other avenues of business organizations and their organizational behavior models.

The unique Organizational Structure of the US Army dictates not only the Organizational Culture and Group Behavior; it also influences the Decision Making process, Motivation, Communication, Power and Politics, Human Resource Management and Change Management inherent in any large organization. The unique structure considers each of these aspects of organizational behavior and builds a concise view and standard operating procedures to control and maintain its vision of it future and mission. Although this paper looked at only three aspects, the US Army offers a distinctive model for any Organizational Behavior study.

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