Thomas Furse

Changing the guard: Organizational science and social psychology in the US army

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • History

AbstractThe US Army employed organizational and behavioral sciences in the context of the emerging Postindustrial political economy to shape its new strategic thought in the 1980s. This article examines how a group of military intellectuals in the Army applied ideas from these sciences to promote officer decision‐making and decentralization while maintaining the Army's culture and ethics. They had significant reservations about bringing new ideas from the social sciences into the Army because Robert McNamara's modern cybernetic strategy had scarred the Army's morale and sense of self during the Vietnam War. Instead, the intellectuals carefully adapted ideas into the Army with an unsentimental attitude as it emerged from its post‐Vietnam decline so it could fight complex maneuver warfare. Their strategic thought in the late Cold War made the Army a flexible global‐spanning force for the unipolar moment in the 1990s and early 2000s.

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