Cultural Change in Military Organizations: Hackers and Warriors in the U.S. Army

Wednesday, September 20, 2023 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm

E40-496, in-person limited to the MIT Community

SSP Wednesday Seminar with speaker Erica Lonergan, Assistant Professor in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. The talk will be broadcast live on the MIT Security Studies Program Youtube channel

Abstract: The growing role of cyberspace in warfighting raises questions about the implications of the interactions between cyber cultures and military cultures. Cyberspace poses unique cultural challenges to military organizations, pitting the decentralized, individualistic, and more risk-acceptant practices that typically constitute cyber cultures against the often highly centralized, group-oriented, and tradition-bound ideas enshrined in many military cultures. We explore the causes, processes, and outcomes of culture change in military organizations in response to cyberspace. Focusing on the U.S. Army as a theory-building case study, we show how a group of “culture entrepreneurs” within the Army attempted to cause cultural change through strategically combining elements of cyber “hacker” culture and the Army’s traditional warfighting culture to define and delimit a new cyber culture within the Army. Overall, we find that cultural change was only partial, resulting in a cyber culture within the Army characterized by internal contradictions. Our findings build on the literature on cultural change. They also suggest broader implications for cyber strategy and military effectiveness.

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security studies, SSP


Center for International Studies
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