Blending Postmodernism with Military Design Methodologies: Heresy, Subversion, and other Myths of Organizational Change

Author: Ben Zweibelson

Abstract: The emergence of postmodern thinking in 21st century military practice, theory, and education is apparent through various international Armed Forces research, debate, and professional development. However, there is yet to exist a single overarching or agreed upon form for a postmodern military methodology, with extensive disagreement over language, form, function, and practical application in war. This essay frames the current debate by proposing an emergent movement termed the ‘postmodern military movement’ that is in conflict with the existing ‘modernist military movement’ well entrenched in most Anglo-Saxon Armed Forces. More significantly, the military appropriation of postmodern social theory invokes subsequent questions of whether the military might forge novel war applications that redefine the larger postmodern movement, or if it will remain untouched. This essay describes the current competing design theories as well as the personal journey of the author as he contributes his own military research and experimentation into the larger military profession for institutional debate and self-reflection.

* Note: this paper is part of the Special Issue of Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, titled ‘Reflexive Military Practitioners: Design Thinking and Beyond’. The full issue can be accessed at: http://jmss.org/jmss/index.php/jmss/issue/view/76

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