Skip to main content

People, Culture and Ethics (Spotlight Brief 5/21)

Australian citizens and visa holders form a line to board the Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules as Australian Army Infantry personnel provide security at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Military Loyalty as a Moral Emotion

Armed Forces and Society – Jul 21

Loyalty is one of the cornerstones of the ADF and its operation. It is ‘known’ to be essential; however, the concept of loyalty in a military setting remains understudied. The authors of this study layout a theoretically informed, empirically supported analysis of what loyalty actually means for soldiers. The authors discern three core themes from their study. The first is that reciprocity is a key component of loyalty. The personnel interviewed expressed that they would do almost anything for their fellow combatants and assumed they would be supported in the same way. The second is that a sense of loyalty is stronger for smaller units. The third is that the concept of loyalty being an action-guiding prioritisation mechanism. The soldiers tended to rank varying loyalties to different agents and institutions to facilitate decision-making in times of conflict. While the authors propose recommendations, a greater understanding of non-tangible traits like loyalty can offer advantages across the spectrum of Army activities.


‘How Do You Develop and Maintain Employee Loyalty?’ Built In, 08 Jul 21

‘Honor and Loyalty,’ City Journal, 17 May 21

‘The Hidden Dangers of Workplace Loyalty,’ The CEO Magazine, 29 Mar 21

‘Military Chiefs Remind Troops of their Oath After Fallout From Assault on Capitol,’ New York Times, 12 Jan 21

‘Book Review | Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, By Sebastian Junger’, The Cove, 31 Jan 21

Autism @ Work Playbook

Autism @ Work Employer Roundtable and University of Washington – Mar 21

As Army’s needs and capabilities shift across domains, the type of people Armyneed is also shifting. Traditionally focused on a narrow physical and neurological band of capabilities, new technologies enable us to look outside this with greater ease. A familiar example lies with a uniformed shortfall of skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, with implications for telecommunication, cyber, and quantum capabilities. Expanding the recruitment scope and seeking people across a wider neurodiverse field has significant benefits for the Army and individuals. In Australia, the unemployment rate for autistic people is 31.6 percent, three times higher than the rate for people with disabilities and six times higher than for those without.  Actively recruiting from these areas has three simultaneous advantages: it gets Army highly talented people, it reduces unemployment and stigmatism, and it reflects Army’s role as a representative of Australia’s community.


‘Leading the Charge to Increase Neurodiversity in the Federal Workforce,’ MITRE, Jun 21

‘Programs within military intel agencies in the US and UK show growing commitment to neurodiversity,’ SC Magazine, Apr 21

‘Jobs for People Living with Neurodiverse Conditions,’ atWork Australia, Mar 21

‘Coming Up With Creative Solutions: Companies Looking to Hire Autistic Employees,’ Sydney Morning Herald, Mar 21

‘UK Military Relaxes Recruiting Rules to Attract Cyber Specialists,’ Financial Times, Apr 21

‘DXC Dandelion Program’, DXC Technology, 2021

Bullying in the Military: A Review of the Research and Predictors and Outcomes of Bullying Victimization and Perpetration

Military Behavioral Health – Dec 20

Bullying is unacceptable in military organisations as it leads to greater attrition, increased financial or legal problems, and decreased job performance, productivity, and unit cohesion. In addition, widespread public perception of bullying can lower esteem in the military and reduce recruitment numbers. In this study, Jaimee Stuart and Nicholas Szeszeran show that junior ranks and minority groups are most at risk of bullying, and perpetrators are always physically, emotionally, or socially stronger than victims. This study also highlights that many behaviours seen as bullying are also key to producing effective, efficient soldiers who maintain a high level of performance and achievement.


‘Toxic Workplaces Increase Risk of Depression by 300%,’ EurekAlert, 23 Jun 21

‘Define ‘Bullying’: Samuel Farley Talks to Oven-Ready HR,’ Personnel Today, 13 May 21

‘Why Toxic Workplace Cultures Follow You Home,’ BBC, 05 Apr 21

‘Workplace Bullying and Violence: What You Need to Know,’ Safety and Health, 01 Apr 21

‘APS Employee Census: SES Could Do More to Identify and Develop Talented People,’ The Mandarin, 31 Mar 21

How Gender Socialization is Improving Women’s Representation in Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs: Breaking the Ceiling

Australian Journal of International Affairs – Mar 21

Historically, women’s involvement in foreign affairs and the process of international decision-making has been relatively limited. However, there has recently been a spike in women’s participation in this field in Indonesia. The authors of this study explore the extent to which gender socialisation has contributed to this increase. Gender socialisation describes the way that humans adopt behaviour and roles according to perceptions of a given gender. The authors conduct their qualitative study through a series of interviews. They determine that gender socialisation in Indonesia has benefitted from greater participation of women in politics and this in turn has altered the way that Indonesians regard women’s involvement in foreign affairs. This supports the concept of “If I can see it, I can be it”, and offers Army the chance to help lead Australia in developing more diverse workforces as it continues to expand the roles and positions of workforce minorities.


‘Ready to Lead: Many Challenges Await First Female Army Secretary,’ Association of the United States Army, 23 Jun 21

‘Where Fitness Is the Job, Army Struggles to Be a Fair Boss with Female Troops,’ The New York Times, 11 Mar 21

‘Biden Nominates Two Women To Lead Combatant Commands,’ Defense One, 08 Mar 21

‘UN Women Australia asks ‘When will she be right?’ Mumbrella, 08 Mar 21

‘Global Gender Gap Report 2021,’ World Economic Forum, Mar 21

A Review of Machine Learning Applications in Human Resource Management

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management – Feb 21

Often touted as the next essential tool for dramatically improving human resource management, machine learning is gradually receiving more and more attention. This article reinforces this view, finding that human resource management has accepted and started utilising machine learning, despite this technology being in its nascent stages. In addition to the more common recruitment, selection, and performance management elements, it also appears that machine learning could help with understanding employees. This article offers an exhaustive overview of the status of machine learning in human resource management, emphasising that this technology will be critical going forward. The authors acknowledge some significant concerns regarding biased algorithms but conclude that the ability to identify potential early from across entire organisations offers significant strength to current workforce reformation processes.


‘6 HR Technology Trends to Anticipate in 2021,’ Culture Shift, 13 Jul 21

‘AI, the Future of Work and How to Improve the Safety and Security of the Workforce,’ AI News, 16 Jun 21

‘8 Ways AI is Transforming Talent Management in 2021,’ Venture Beat, 25 Mar 21

‘AI with a heart: How Artificial Intelligence Can Uncover Biases,’ HR Morning, 17 Mar 21

‘Five Ways AI Is Disrupting Human Resources Management,’ Sage HR, 25 Jan 21

Sleep and High-Risk Behaviour in Military Service Members: A Mega-Analysis of Four Diverse U.S. Army Units

Sleep Journal – Apr 21

Sleep loss is a frequent experience for Army personnel and is recognised as a fundamental safety issue in operating heavy machinery. Even during nonoperational times, soldiers tend to sleep less than the general civilian population. Given that sleep is critical for maintaining cognitive, physiological, and emotional health, the stark difference in self-reported sleep between service members and civilians is cause for concern. This study combines data from four diverse United States Army samples and finds that soldiers, on average, are sleeping an inadequate number of hours, have poor sleep quality, and many have at least subthreshold clinical insomnia.


‘What to Know About Sleep Deficiency,’ Performance Triad, 01 Jul 21

‘Sleep Duration and Physical Performance During a 6-week Military Training Course,’ Knowledge Enabled Army, 10 Jun 21

‘Sleep in the Military,’ Sleep Foundation, 27 May 21

‘Sleep Issues are Soaring in U.S. Military: Study,’ U.S. News, 05 Apr 21

‘Pentagon Report on Sleep Deprivation and Readiness,’ USNI News, 03 Mar 21

Archetype Profiles of Military Spouses in Australia

Armed Forces & Society – Jun 21

An often ignored or misunderstood part of many personnel’s life is that of their partner. This imposes a critical balancing act as the service member increases in seniority; while this brings experience and knowledge, it also often brings complications for the Service in meeting family needs. Ultimately, all Army personnel will leave the Service, meaning that the organisation needs to understand partners and their needs better. This article seeks to begin redressing that knowledge gap. Through interviews with a number of ADF partners, the authors identify seven archetypes, as well as where these archetypes influence the ADF. Critically, it highlights that while research on the ADF may be scarce, there are significant common points with other Western militaries, allowing a solid body of work to be included into workforce changes.


‘Military Partner Rebbecca Hinton Calls for Royal Commission to Include Defence Partners,’ Port Lincoln Times, 25 Jun 21

‘Communities must not Forget our Military Spouses,’ The Canberra Times, 23 Jun 21

‘Grants Help Defence Families to Thrive,’ Department of Defence, 01 May 21

‘#ICYMI - Are You An Actively Supporting Supervisor?’ The Cove, 25 Mar 21

‘Rank, Gender and Working Arrangements of ADF Members: Results from the Defence Census and Implications for Partner Employment,’ Career Swag, 25 Nov 20

Medical Challenges in Underground Warfare

Military Medicine – Feb 21

Throughout military history, tunnels and underground systems have featured, with increased use today as enemy forces seek to counter Western air supremacy. This article focuses on the medical challenges confronted when operating in this environment, including temperature, environmental, animal and gas. The authors also note that there is no front line or rear underground, so it is unclear where optimally to position medical teams. Having highlighted the threats, they then analyse Israeli Defense Force data on casualties between 2004 and 2018. The author's group injuries sustained in the subterranean battlefield into three categories: smoke inhalation, crush injury, and blast. They found 46% of casualties had suffered blast injuries, 35% smoke inhalation, and 19% crushing injuries, before outlining how each type of injury should be treated and prevented.


‘Tactics in an Era of Great Power Competition,’ Modern War Institute, 21 Jun 21

‘Kolombangara: Surveying a Forgotten Second World War Fortress,’ The Past, 14 May 21

‘Facing our Underground Nightmares: Casting light on the Subterranean Fight,’ Association of the United States Army, 20 Aug 19

‘The Subterranean Battlefield: Warfare is going underground, into Dark, Tight Spaces,’ Military Times, 26 Feb 19

‘From Cast Lead to Protective Edge: Lessons from Israel's Wars in Gaza,’ RAND Corporation, 2017

Australian Attitudes towards Innovation, Work and Technology: Towards a Cultural Explanation

Prometheus – Mar 21

Innovation is often touted as a key to maintaining Army’s competitive edge over rivals. Army is a subset of Australian society and with that comes all the advantages and disadvantages of Australian culture. One disadvantage is Australia’s limited success in innovation in high-technology areas (despite high levels of education). This article investigates this issue, and finds that there is a cultural bias against technology and innovation that relates to strong belief in societal legends. In emphasising the ‘pioneer heritage,’ Australians have placed undue focus on the agricultural and resource sectors. Ironically, despite Army’s desire to innovate, its own internal culture reinforces the trends of broader society with heavy focus on the ANZAC legend, possibly reinforcing the very aspects of culture that are undermining an important key to future success.


‘Unleash R&D Potential Trapped in Universities: Report,’ Financial Review, 27 Jun 21

‘Is There Anything New Under the Technological Sun?’ The Diplomat, 25 Jun 21

‘Australia Needs to Pick Up the Pace on Innovation,’ The Strategist, 11 Jun 21

‘Change is Critical for our Future,’ The Australian, 01 Jun 21

‘On R&D Spend, Success Can be Hard to Find,’ Innovation Aus, 05 Apr 21

The views expressed in this article and subsequent comments are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Australian Army, the Department of Defence or the Australian Government.

Using the Contribute page you can either submit an article in response to this or register/login to make comments.