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Military Leaders and Trust
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Social and Psychological Studies. Försvarshögskolan, Ledarskapscentrum.
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to study trust in military leaders. Empirical data was gathered through interviews and questionnaires with military personnel mostly from Sweden, but also from four other European countries.

Paper I illustrates that trust in military leaders can be theoretically understood in terms of a hierarchical system of categories, higher-level categories and two superior categories labelled Individual-related and Communication- and relationship-related characteristics.

Paper II examines how trust between military leaders and their subordinates is related to negative critical incidents in international operations. The results show that trust can be affected by pre-existing influences, of both an individual and contextual nature. The level of trust that develops between leaders and subordinates appears to have an influence on perceptions and re-evaluations of leaders’ trustworthiness during and after involvement in critical incidents.

In Paper III, an instrument, Destrudo-L, was developed to measure destructive leadership behaviours on five different dimensions: Arrogant, unfair, Threats, punishments, overdemands, Ego-oriented, false, Passive, cowardly, and Uncertain, unclear, messy.

In Paper IV the relationship between constructive and destructive leadership behaviours and trust is examined. The results show that constructive leadership contributed most to trust in the immediate supervisor. A great deal of trust in immediate supervisors can be understood by evaluating both constructive and destructive leadership behaviours.

This thesis contributes with context-specific knowledge on trust in leaders in a military context and knowledge of psychological processes and individual dispositions that shape and change the willingness to trust leaders. The main findings presented in this thesis are the identification of characteristics of the trustor, the trustee, and the context which influences trust in military leaders.

Abstract [en]

Armed forces often perform tasks in life or death situations, bringing the issue of trust in military leaders to a head. Dependence on and trust in military leaders entails considerable risk, as any mistakes made by the leader may result in serious injury or death. Obeying orders is an essential aspect of the military profession and trust is critical since individuals are expected to give up their right to self-determination and follow orders (i.e. trust the leader). Refusal not only puts the individual soldier at risk, but also his or her team members and leaders. The hierarchical military system puts subordinates in a vulnerable position in relation to the leader.

The aim of this thesis is to study trust in military leaders. Empirical data was gathered through interviews and questionnaires with military personnel mostly from Sweden, but also from four other European countries.

This thesis contributes with context-specific knowledge on trust in leaders in a military context and knowledge on psychological processes and individual dispositions that shape and change the willingness to trust leaders. The main findings presented in this thesis are the identification of characteristics of the trustor, the trustee, and the context which influences trust in military leaders.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2015. , 194 p.
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2015:37
Keyword [en]
military leadership, trust, destructive leadership, constructive leadership, Destrudo-L
National Category
Psychology Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Ledarskap under påfrestande förhållanden; Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-37236ISBN: 978-91-7063-655-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-37236DiVA: diva2:844239
Public defence
2015-10-02, Sjöströmsalen, Karlstads universitet, Karlstad, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Avhandlingen skrevs i samarbete med Försvarshögskolan i Stockholm i ämnet Ledarskap under påfrestande förhållanden

Available from: 2015-09-18 Created: 2015-08-03 Last updated: 2017-08-15Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Trust in a military context: What contributes to trust in superior and subordinate leaders?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Trust in a military context: What contributes to trust in superior and subordinate leaders?
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2013 (English)In: Journal of Trust Research, ISSN 2151-5581, E-ISSN 2151-559X, Vol. 3, no 2, 125-145 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim was to explore which components military personnel in peacekeeping operations perceive as contributing to trust in their superior and subordinate leaders during international or national operations or exercises. Data were collected among 591 military officers and cadets from Norway and Sweden using a questionnaire with open-ended questions. Two superior categories emerged: Individual-Related Characteristics and Communication- and Relationship-Related Characteristics. The former is made up of the higher-level categories Personal attributes and Experience and competence. The latter is derived from the higher-level categories Consideration and inspiration and Effective communication. In turn, all higher-level categories are underpinned by a number of subcategories (13 altogether). When comparing trust in superior leaders with trust in subordinate leaders, the results show that trust in superiors is characterised to a greater extent by Communication- and Relationship-related characteristics and also by Experience and professional knowledge. Trust in subordinate leaders is characterised to a greater extent by Personal attributes and Management competence.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2013
Keyword
trust, military, character-based trust, relationship-based trust, leadership
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Research subject
Ledarskap under påfrestande förhållanden
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-37244 (URN)10.1080/21515581.2013.820029 (DOI)
Available from: 2014-04-28 Created: 2015-08-03 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
2. Influence of IED attacks on leadership: Dealing with the invisible enemy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Influence of IED attacks on leadership: Dealing with the invisible enemy
2012 (English)In: Res Militaris, E-ISSN 2265-6294, Vol. 2, no 3, Summer/ÉtéArticle in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of leadership in military operations characterized by the presence of critical incidents (IED attacks). Twenty-one Swedish soldiers and officers (ranking from soldier to colonel) who had experienced IED attacks in Afghanistan during the period 2005-2008 were interviewed, and their responses were analyzed according to grounded theory methodology. A model was developed according to which the essence of military leadership immediately following an IED attack could be summarized as recapturing control over self, the group and the task. The model also illuminates the importance of selected pre-existing conditions and the leader's appraisal/ sensemaking processes. Nine leadership acts of balance were identified, including balanced grief (self), balanced focus on emotional and functional recovery (group), and balanced handling of safety versus necessary risk-taking (task).

Keyword
Military, Sweden, Afghanistan, leadership, IED attacks, irregular warfare, trust.
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Ledarskap under påfrestande förhållanden; Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-37242 (URN)
Available from: 2015-08-04 Created: 2015-08-03 Last updated: 2017-08-15Bibliographically approved
3. Destrudo‐L: Development of a short scale designed to measure destructive leadership behaviours in a military context
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Destrudo‐L: Development of a short scale designed to measure destructive leadership behaviours in a military context
2012 (English)In: Leadership & Organization Development Journal, ISSN 0143-7739, E-ISSN 1472-5347, Vol. 33, no 4, 383-400 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The purpose of this paper is to develop a short and easy to use yet psychometrically sound instrument designed to measure destructive leadership behaviours in a military context.

First, examples of destructive leadership behaviours in a military context were collected using a qualitative approach. Second, these examples were operationalised and pilot tested, which resulted in a 20-item questionnaire called Destrudo-L. Third, data were collected from three Swedish military groups (n=428). Dimensionality of the instrument was analysed using structural equation modelling. Conventional psychometric assessments of reliability and validity were performed.

A nested hierarchical model with a general factor and the following specific factors emerged: arrogant, unfair; threats, punishments, overdemands; ego?oriented, false; passive, cowardly; and uncertain, unclear, messy. Meaningful subgroup differences and relationships with a criterion variable (lack of motivation/propensity to leave) were found. More use of active forms was reported by subordinates of younger military commanders and more use of passive forms was marked by subordinates of senior military managers.

The instrument is easy to administer and interpret (norm values are provided) and can be used in leader evaluation, as well as leader development, contexts.

The main contribution is methodological - the development of a new scale. Additional findings are a strong positive correlation between active and passive forms of destructive leadership behaviours in a military context, as well as significant differences between groups with different ranks.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2012
Keyword
Sweden, Leadership, Behaviour, Psychometric tests, Armed forces, Destructive leadership, Measurement, Destrudo‐L, Military
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-37279 (URN)10.1108/01437731211229313 (DOI)000208885900011 ()
Available from: 2015-08-05 Created: 2015-08-05 Last updated: 2017-08-10Bibliographically approved
4. Manuscript: Leadership: Is bad stronger than good?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Manuscript: Leadership: Is bad stronger than good?
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-37276 (URN)
Available from: 2015-08-04 Created: 2015-08-04 Last updated: 2015-09-18Bibliographically approved

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