Shared Norms but Policy Incoherence: Analysing the Irish Defence Forces Market Aspirations

Mulqueen, Michael orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9344-4246 (2023) Shared Norms but Policy Incoherence: Analysing the Irish Defence Forces Market Aspirations. In: The EU, Irish Defence Forces and Contemporary Security. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 333-351. ISBN 978-3-031-07811-8

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Investigated within this chapter is how an organisational norm seemingly common to the Defence Forces and Ireland’s Department of Transport was implicated in a sharp policy division between them, with claimed implications for Irish defence intelligence. The chapter adds to the canon of civil-military scholarship on a number of fronts. Firstly, and in the context of a volume considering Irish defence, the chapter brings scrutiny upon the Defence Forces’ embrace of market forces, as a core norm of organisational behaviour, to enable it achieve what it terms Adaptive Dynamic Capability. In so doing the study unpacks firstly an unsavoury public controversy that erupted between military personnel and Transport officials concerning a tender for aviation-based Search and Rescue (SAR) services. It moves then to consider what the market norm, interacting with others and allied to structural factors including limitations upon Irish defence policy, implies for the prospects of a research and innovation capability within the Defence Forces.
Secondly, the chapter promises to the wider study of civil-military relations conceptual refinement in institutional approaches to enquiry. By excavating norms interacting with pre-existing others both inter- and intra-organisationally, the study models how to account for norms as shaped by and shapers of cultural characteristics of institutional behaviour. In turn, the connection between culture and more structural drivers of institutional behaviour, such as mission and objectives, can be more clearly understood. This is of particular interest to scholarship of ‘sticky’ change processes within military organisations.
Regarding its potential for impact the chapter identifies pressing implications for defence managers: in Ireland the chapter points to incoherence between the vision that defence managers have for market success and the potential for partnership with industry and academe. More broadly, the chapter suggests as good practice defence managers closely considering norm-interaction as a potent enabler and inhibitor of civil-military policy achievement.

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