Militært chefvirke. Kritik og retfærdiggørelse mellem politik og profession

[Military leadership. Critique and justification between politics and profession]

Vilhelm Stefan Holsting (2017)

PhD thesis. Copenhagen Copenhagen Business School.

“Since the end of The Cold War military officership has been affected by continuous transformations in the context of security and public administration. The need of flexibility on an increasingly complex battlefield and continuous modernizations of the military organization combined with tight resource management cause new and often contradicting requirements on the military administration. The question is how those transformations and inherent tensions are reflected in the professional self-understanding of the military actors. To elucidate this question, the dissertation examines how military executives justify and re-professionalize military commandship when they face a growing public criticism after the Cold War. This is done by a discursive analysis strategy combining historical analyzes of the justification of commandship with contemporary analyzes of a current dispute about justification of commandship. Hereby, the theoretical concepts form the Convention Sociology by Luc Boltanskis, Laurent Thévenot and Eve Chiapello are used in combination with Concept-Historical concepts by Reinhart Koselleck. With this analysis strategy, the understanding of commandship is presented in a tension between a professional space of experience and a professional horizon of expectations of the actors. The empirical body of the dissertation is partly based on a diaconal study of a historical archive of performance appraisals on military executives, partly on a synchronous study of a current dispute of justification that has unfolded during the implementation of the political Defense Agreement 2013-2017. Thus, the analysis strategy forms the basis for a general professional diagnosis that identifies and illustrates the main trends and transformations in the justification of commandship. With this diagnosis, it is concluded that the historical development of the primary justification of commandship changes over time from a domestic tradition-based and patriarchal justification to a flexible and coordinating project justification. Still more intense requirements of transformation also lead to flexism – i.e. forced change – in the political-professional relationship. It appears as a variant of the emerging project and market justification which the professionals experience as problematic. The diagnosis identifies three tensions in the current justification of commandship. Firstly, military robustness is increasingly formulated beyond traditional military principles such as decisiveness. Secondly, military actors avoid market principles such as cost-effectiveness as a part of their professional self-understanding. These tensions marginalize the military executives in the peace-time condition which is the normal situation for the Armed Forces. Thirdly, the response on the criticism by the professionals is silenced through the flexism. It increases the politically-professional distrust and nurtures a myth of decline, where the professionals see themselves marginalized by economists and legal professionals. It is experienced by many as decreased professionalism rather than re-professionalization. Therefore, the dissertation points to the need for a space of critical reality testing of public criticism and transformation requirements in the political-professional relationship where it is not only tolerated but also required that the military executives actively engage in the testing and justification of professional transformation. Commandship is not a given phenomenon. It is subject to increasingly dynamic, plural and complex principles, which, in addition to loyalty to the political primacy, require an ability to re-professionalize through criticism, i.e. a critical competence. With the empirical testing of the critical competence, a Convention Sociological contribution is made available for the Military Sociological discussion of officership. The justificatory pluralism from the Convention Sociology demonstrates that the Military Sociological distinction between militarization and civilization is not sufficiently nuanced to understand the complex requirements of military commandship.”

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