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Special Forces Values: How The Regiment's Ethical Framework Influences Its Organizational Effectiveness

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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Current management theory finds that deeply held values provide a significant explanation for the behavior of professionals. Accordingly, this thesis illuminates the positive impact that the 1st Special Forces Regiments ethical structurethe SF Ethichas on the organizations effectiveness. The study describes the SF Ethic through the lens of the two major opposing normative ethical theories consequentialism and non-consequentialism. It determines that the SF Ethic is a combination of both theories along with Virtue Theory. The latter contains the notion of prudence, which offers a balanced and deliberative middle path, a means by which to navigate a tension that exists between the former two theories. The SF EthicEffectiveness pathway depicts the process by which an SF soldier operating under the SF Ethic might contribute to effectiveness. Values shape principles that define ones duties. Then professional and prudential judgmentinfluenced by organizational and operational factorsinforms decisions. Essential contextual factors include the environment often complex and unstable,organizational structure a professional-adhocracy within a machine bureaucracy, and culture. Organizational theory conceptscommitment, trust, and professionalismempirically evince the SF EthicSF Effectiveness correlation. Likewise, Army and SF publications offer trust-based explanationsrelated to legitimacy and influencefor the SF EthicSF Effectiveness link. Recommendations include organizing the various conceptions of values and attributes to provide a sense of hierarchy, priority, and common definitions across sources developing a semi-algorithmic process guide to help operators systematically think through moral dilemmas and adding an ethics training block to the SF Qualification Course to professionalize the force and contribute to organizational effectiveness.

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  • Administration and Management

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