The influence of the military posting cycle on group formation and team development in the Australian Defence Force

Hingst, Ray (2012) The influence of the military posting cycle on group formation and team development in the Australian Defence Force. In: 11th World Congress of the International Federation of Scholarly Associations of Management, 26-29 June 2012, Limerick, Ireland.

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This paper seeks to describe and understand what influence the movement of personnel in the Australian Defence Force (ADF), associated the ‘posting cycle’, has on group formation and team development.

The military posting cycle, by intent and function, imposes substantial change to membership on groups and teams. The structural elements retain their formal identity and role within the organisation, and some of their constituent membership, while a significant proportion of the group members leave the group, sometimes remaining within the same geographic location but in different positions, and are replaced by new members. Postings also occur for compassionate and a variety of other reasons, in conjunction with individual promotions, and when personnel are deployed on operations. In latter case, entire units often relocate into another geographic location. A period of intense preparation in terms of medical, technical skill and general readiness is conducted in preparation for rotation through an operational area. In these circumstances, the preparatory period may result in closer bonds being formed between group members through an intense, task focused process of team development.

This study includes both full-time and part-time serving members of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), the Australian Army (Army), and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in order to identify and attempt to explain the impact of the various service cultures on members and their respective use of in and out of cycle postings. In order to test the validity of chosen theoretical framework, Tuckman’s 1965 ‘forming, storming, norming and performing’ model and later 1977, ‘adjourning’ revision, (with Jensen), in a military context, groups which have recently participated in periods of training from each service, and Officer Cadets from the Australian Defence Force Academy, characterised by relatively stable group membership

Research methodology
The methodology used in this research is qualitative. The combination of techniques should lend a degree of reliability due to triangulation through the use of multiple devices: survey questionnaire, semi-structured interview and focus groups.
The initial findings resulting from this work point to the validity of Tuckman’s model as an accurate descriptor of behaviour in environments where groups are subject to stable membership, where team development is deliberately integrated into the daily routine of the group over a prolonged period. These conditions manifest themselves in the various training environments investigated in this study.
This paper should make a significant contribution to the understanding of the form, function and effectiveness of groups and teams within the uniformed personnel of the ADF. The posting cycle serves as a mechanism which imposes change to the membership of groups, a condition outside the scope of Tuckman’s widely recognised and acknowledged, model of group development, from which point, this study has examined group formation and development. This study presents a significant extension of Tuckman’s theory into a context of membership change. In the military context, it adds to the understanding of group formation and team development subject to the influence of the posting cycle, which has implications for recruitment, training, job performance, member satisfaction and their quality of life.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Copyright, Individual contributors 2012.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business and Law - School of Management and Marketing
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2012 06:45
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2014 00:56
Uncontrolled Keywords: military groups, military teams, group formation, team development, military postings
Fields of Research : 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150311 Organisational Behaviour
15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150310 Organisation and Management Theory
Socio-Economic Objective: A Defence > 81 Defence > 8101 Defence > 810109 Personnel

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