Effect of Organizational Structure on Cultural Influence

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Military / Coalition Issue

Cultural influence represents how ideas, concepts, beliefs and ways of working embed themselves and transfer across a population. Such culture is rarely uniform even in “strict” organisations, and it is interesting to understand the extent that there are effects such as polarisation or diversity. This can help to support organisational design for complex operations, or it can be used to evaluate existing operational structures in new ways.

Core idea and key achievements

A model has been developed that extends the literature by including the concept of “cumulative culture”. This is a hallmark of humans and represents the ability to ratchet cultural innovations (i.e., new ideas) on top of each other, such that they can carry forward from one generation to the next. The approach can be applied over any network structure, and combined with the level of bidirectional influence that is present in any relationship.

Implications for Defence

The techniques are useful internally, e.g., assessing or evaluating organisational structures to assess their cohesiveness. They are also useful externally, for example to assess external actors, regimes or groups with respect to their cultural characteristics. This may for example, be useful in assessing points of weakness or division given an organisational or social network structure. It can also be used to support the design implications of social structures (e.g., cultural implications of adding additional links, or enforcing greater downward control).

Readiness & alternative Defence uses

The research has been carried out at low technology readiness level (TRL) to establish the concepts and compare them with baselines from the literature. These techniques can now be taken and translated to practical scenarios for operational analysis. This could for example be useful in evaluating alternative structures for particular operations, or to support training concerning awareness on group dynamics.

Resources and references


Cardiff, ARL