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‘Is Facebook Bad for Military?’

Steve Kelman writes in FCW : “Research going back to classic studies during World War II by the sociologists Morris Janowitz and Edward Shils has found that soldiers fight for their buddies, with whom they have developed close ties due to extended interpersonal interactions off the battlefield that prepare them for being on the battlefield. For success in battle, there must be a high level of trust and unit cohesion. Spencer notes that when in Iraq in 2003, before the Internet came to the front, ‘I saw the group bonds that had been formed between the soldiers appear in battle. The communication between members was personal, their teamwork under stress admirable.'”  

“In 2008, the soldiers behaved differently. ‘I saw the soldiers’ individuality in battle. I saw them arguing about what decisions to make. I often observed much more transactional communications where there would have been friendly banter in the past. Groups seemed unable to learn from their daily challenges or direct any intergroup policing of individual actions.'”  

“One question to ask is whether these troubling findings are likely to apply to any organizations outside the military, which mixes unusual demands for commitment, cohesion and teamwork with a work environment where those organizational features can be so nurtured by informal face-to-face communication. Clearly, there are lots of ordinary workplaces, inside and outside government, where trust and cohesion are important, and where informal ties generated in office interactions or around the water cooler, build such cohesion and improve performance.”

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