Special forces values: how the regiment's ethical framework influences its organizational effectiveness
Kingsley, Jonathan D.
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Current management theory finds that deeply held values provide a significant explanation for the behavior of professionals. Accordingly, this thesis illuminates the positive impact that the 1st Special Forces Regiment's ethical structure--the SF Ethic--has on the organization's effectiveness. The study describes the SF Ethic through the lens of the two major (opposing) normative ethical theories: consequentialism and non-consequentialism. It determines that the SF Ethic is a combination of both theories along with Virtue Theory. The latter contains the notion of prudence, which offers a balanced and deliberative middle path, a means by which to navigate a tension that exists between the former two theories. The SF Ethic--Effectiveness pathway depicts the process by which an SF soldier operating under the SF Ethic might contribute to effectiveness. Values shape principles that define one's duties. Then professional and prudential judgment--influenced by organizational and operational factors--informs decisions. Essential contextual factors include the environment (often complex and unstable), organizational structure (a professional-adhocracy within a machine bureaucracy), and culture. Organizational theory concepts--commitment, trust, and professionalism--empirically evince the SF Ethic--SF Effectiveness correlation. Likewise, Army and SF publications offer trust-based explanations-- related to legitimacy and influence--for the SF Ethic--SF Effectiveness link. Recommendations include organizing the various conceptions of values and attributes to provide a sense of hierarchy, priority, and common definitions across sources; developing a semi-algorithmic process guide to help operators systematically think through moral dilemmas; and adding an ethics training block to the SF Qualification Course to professionalize the force and contribute to organizational effectiveness.
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