Peculiarities of organisational culture in army

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" So nigh is grandeur to our Dust
So near to God is man,
When duty whispers low, Thou must
The youth replies, I can."

-Emerson , Voluntaries

The aim of army is to safe guard the territorial integrity of the country .

To ensure this the army must fight and win battles. To win the battle three things must happen[i] :

  1. Forces and weapons must be brought together and concentrated at the critical time and places.
  2. The battle itself must be directed and controlled to achieve the maximum effect of fire and manoeuvre at the decisive locations.
  3. The soldiers must employ their weapons with skill to kill and the will to win.

For the above mentioned things to occur, the entire army is created and trained for the specific objective of fighting and winning the battles. That is why the organisation of the army is entirely different from any other organisation and the organisational culture in the army is entirely different from the organisational culture in any other organisation. Not much data or written material is available to access the organisational culture in the army however after interacting with serving and retired officers and men following peculiarities of the organisational culture in the army are brought out.

Dominant Values

Pride and Honor.

Serving in the armed forces gives a fierce sense of pride to the person in that he has joined a noble profession. He feels that he is working in a profession where when called upon to perform his duty, he can lay down his life for the country. It is this sense of pride and fulfilment which enables a serving defence person to stand tall and confident.

Espirit de Corps.

The bond between comrades which develops in the face of danger gives the army a fierce sense of spirit de corps and loyalty to each other which is perhaps incomprehensible in the normal jobs.


Courage is the mantal quality that recognises fear of danger but enables a man to accept responsibility and act correctly in threatening situation with calmness. This quality is the most stressed upon during training and is a prerequisite for successful accomplishment of tasks in the battlefield.


Loyalty is the quality of faithfulness to the country, Army, unit and colleagues. This norm is perhaps less visible in organisations other than the army. This norm enable a soldier to stand by his organisation and colleagues at the time of need. It also is a deterrent for the service matters being discussed outside the service environment.


Integrity is the uprightness of the character and soundness of the moral principles. In the army the stakes are very high to place the lives of the troops in the hands of people with questionable integrity. Therefore this quality is one of the most trusted upon and is never compromised. The military profession does not permit the slightest deviation from the highest standards of personal integrity.


All the serving soldiers are subjected to the strict rules of the Army Act which to some extent infringe upon even the basic rights of the soldiers as the citizens of the country in order to enable the oragnisation to work. These Army Acts and Army Rules are in addition to the law of the land . Thus a soldier has to live within the confines of the law of the land and the Army Act. In the day to day working in the army, the rules and regulations are strictly followed and any deviation from the rules are strictly and promptly dealt with. There are elaborate procedures and actions for every task and duty called the standard operating procedures that are followed in letter and spirit. Even in the routine matters of the administration of the units the rules and regulations are strictly followed.

Observed Behavioural Regularities.

There are several observed behavioural regularities in the army which may seem to be quite peculiar to the outside observer. First in the list is the time table and routine which is followed in the units. Next is the language and terminologies that are used in the army to such an extent that any individual not familiar with them is unable to intelligently interpret the conversation between two soldiers. Next thing that sets the amy apart from any of the other organisation is the wearing of the uniform which brings about the commonness in the soldiers irrespective of their cultural or religious background. Next in the list are traditions and rituals that are followed in the army which includes drill ceremonies, saluting, paying homage, sounding of bugles etc. Such rituals are unique only to the army and cannot be seen in any other oraganisation thereby granting a unique nature to the army.



Leadership is the art of influencing and directing men in such a way so as to obtain their willing obedience , confidence , respect and loyal cooperation. The essence of military leadership is to lead men to accomplishment of mission even at the peril to own life. This requirement of military leadership requires a high degree of preparation on the part of the military leader to prepare himself and his men to the ultimate task of accomplishing the assigned mission disregarding personal safety.


The power of the superior over his subordinate in the army is absolute . the power vested in the superior officer by virtue of the Army Act are tremendous. The superior has the full authority of writing career reports of his subordinates and also has the right to punish the subordinates for any violation of the laid down rules. Moreover the authority of the superior does not end with the working hours but continues till the time the soldier is on active duty. This kind of authority is not found in any other organisation. The authority in that case ends with the working hours and the superior is in no way concerned what his subordinates are doing in their own time . In contrast the military leader is accountable for the professional as well as personal conduct of the men he commands.


The hierarchical structure of the army is very rigid and for every sub unit there is a channel of command and a channel of reporting for each individual. This rigid channel of command is essential for the kind of task the army is expected to perform in the operations so that the authority and the charter of duties of each individual is clear and there is no ambiguity at the time of operations. This channel of command is not expected to be bypassed and any individual is expected to approach only his immediate superior for redressal of any of his grievance.

Customs and Traditions

The customs and traditions in the army are built over a long period of time and every one of them has a piece of history attached with it. These customs and traditions are passed from one generation to another in the army and over a period of time they have become common law of which no violation is expected. The majority of the customs and traditions epitomise the highest set of standards which are expected from a soldier and below which a soldier is never expected to fall. Such rigid code of conduct is not found in any other organisation.


Though it is not given anywhere in written but it is common knowledge that the basic philosophy that guides the army is to prepare for the future war. Every action and every thought in the army is guided by the fact that the preparation for the future war should be such that the army should succeed in its assigned mission. The entire peace time routine is focused towards winning the next war. This effort is not quantifiable unless there is a war. Therefore army may seem to be anon productive organisation to an observer but the fruits of relentless toil are visible only at the time of the war.

Organisational Climate


A job in the army is the only one where the superior is not responsible for the annual turnover but the lives of the men under his command. The decision of the superior is a matter of life and death of the men. This kind of responsibility imposes tremendous pressure of responsibility on the leaders.

Social Fabric.

Perhaps one of the greatest strength of army as an organisation is the social fabric that exists in the organisation. Military cantonments with its accommodations, facilities, welfare centres brings about an environment of exclusivity for the families of the soldiers. This gives a feeling of cohesion, identity, pride and camaraderie to the soldiers and to no lesser extent their families The presence of well- knit, homogenous community of likeminded people holding the highest standards of morals can not be found anywhere else. these bonds that are formed during the service continue even after retirement. There are organisations to look after the welfare of the families and children of the soldiers that are unique to the army.

Sense of Adventure.

By the nature of the jobs a soldier is expected to perform in the army, gives a sense of adventure . Life in the army has long been associated with the active adventures due to the numerous opportunities it presents.

Apolitical and Secular Climate.

The army since independence has carefully nurtured its apolitical image. There is a deliberate effort to keep the organisation free from political interference and forming political opinions within the organisation. The discussions on the political environment are discouraged at any of the gatherings. Similarly army has also cultivated its secular culture in the organisation and a soldier irrespective of his religious background is treated as an equal and is free to follow his religion but the army as an organisation has remained secular tolerating and encouraging all religions.

  1. Col Dandridge M Malone. Small Unit Leadership. Lancer Press India 1990.pp 24-25.
  2. Fred Luthans. Organizational Behavior. Irwin-McGraw Hill, 1998,pp 550-551
  3. Leadership. Headquarters ARTRAC Simla 1999.p 173.
  4. Malone. Op. cit. p 37.
  5. Ibid . p 39.
  6. Military Leadreship. DSSC wellington Precis, Oct 2005. P 24.
  7. Luthans. Op cit. pp 550.
  8. Combat Leadership and Military Command . Army war College Precis . Sep 1998.p1.
  9. Col H R Roach. Customs and Etiquette in the Services. Natraj Publishers 1994. pp 1-3.
  10. Lt Gen S C Sardeshpande. War And Soldiering. Lancer publishers 1993.pp 16-17.
  11. Ibid. pp 30-41 et passim.