Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Toward a post-Cold War force and an organization-centric model of institutional change: Institutional work in the United States Army, 1991-1995
by Smith, Wade Philip, Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2015, 342; 3721890
Abstract (Summary)

Throughout the Cold War, the United States maintained a military prepared to confront a technologically advanced Soviet adversary. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the structure and purpose of the armed forces were called into question. In time, the U.S. military transformed from one prepared to conduct large-scale war, to one prepared to carry out a variety of missions ranging from war to humanitarian efforts. Throughout the 1990s, the U.S. Army's senior leaders engaged in a campaign to transform the organization from its warrior-oriented mindset to a service-oriented one. I report in this dissertation my findings from an analysis of the efforts of the Army's senior leaders in support of this transformation from 1991 to 1995. Specifically, I report my findings from an analysis of the discursive dimensions of their efforts.

Theoretically, this dissertation contributes to two emergent perspectives in organizational analysis: the institutional logics and institutional work perspectives. These perspectives highlight the fact that individual and collective actors are not only influenced by the structural, normative, and symbolic dimensions (i.e., the institutional logic) of the institutional environments in which they act, but those environments are shaped by their actions (by institutional work). Through my analysis of the efforts of the Army's senior leaders to disrupt and replace the Cold War institutional logic, I identified three distinct forms of institutional work. Environment work included efforts to construct an extra-organizational environment that demands change, and an intra-organizational environment hospitable to change. Organizational identity work involved the establishment of an organizational sense of self that encompassed new practices. Institutional logic work involved a recursive process of textualization that established a post-Cold War logic constituted in a well-structured discourse.

In conclusion, I consider the institutional work I identified as situated within the institutional field of the armed forces. I demonstrate how the management of organizational change can influence the logic that prevails within the broader institutional field. I conclude by highlighting the utility of focusing on the organizational level of analysis in studies of institutional change, and the benefits of considering the institutional logics and institutional work perspectives as complementary.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bair, Jennifer L.
Commitee: Bean, Hamilton, Reed, Isaac A., Taylor, Bryan C., Tierney, Kathleen J.
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: Sociology
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-A 77/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Sociology, Organization Theory, Military studies
Keywords: Cold war, Institutional field, Institutional logic, Institutional work, Military sociology, Neoinstitutional theory, Post-cold war
Publication Number: 3721890
ISBN: 9781339036786
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