Engaging environmental turbulence: Drivers of organizational flexibility in the armed forces

E. de Waard, H.W. Volberda, J.M.M.L. Soeters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Since the transformation was set in motion to change Western armed forces from large-scale mechanized defensive organizations into smaller agile expeditionary crisis response forces, the call for organizational flexibility has rocketed. Yet, actual research into the key organizational drivers of flexibility has hardly been done. To bridge this gap, the present study has analyzed to what extent modular organizing and organizational sensing have contributed to flexible military crisis response performance. The study uses the Netherlands’ armed forces as a representative example of a contemporary Western crisis response organization and empirically draws upon its recent operational experiences. It has uncovered that within most mission contexts, modular organizing acts as a facilitator for the organizational sensing process. Yet, within highly turbulent crisis response missions, organizational sensing becomes the predominant driver, stimulating ad hoc solutions that challenge existing structures, available technology, and standard procedures.
Keywords: military, crisis response operations, flexibility, modular organizing, organizational sensing, Netherlands armed forces
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)576-594
JournalEuropean Security
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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