Civilianization of the Military: Social-Psychological Effects of Integrating Civilians and Military Personnel

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The U.S. Federal government is increasingly civilianizing the military as a manpower management strategy. Combining military personnel with civilians creates a bifurcated work setting resulting in differential structural and environmental job characteristic between service members and civilians. Analyses of the process and outcomes of Federal civilianization of the military have focused predominantly on economic outcomes and have failed to confirm or refute its effectiveness as a management strategy. In this study I argue that social-psychological outcomes must be considered in evaluating the effects of military civilianization. Data gathered from case studies of the Navy and Army are path analyzed to determine the direct and indirect effects of two civilianization variables on retention intentions.

Sailors and soldiers report feeling relatively deprived compared to the civilians with whom they work. For sailors, but not soldiers, these feelings of deprivation decrease with level of contact with civilians. Soldiers and sailors report being satisfied with their jobs, but less satisfied than their civilian co-workers. Civilians are significantly more committed to their employers than service members are committed to the military. While at least 75% of the civilians in each case study lean toward or plan to stay with their current employer, just over a third of service personnel expressed positive intentions to remain with the military. Social comparisons significantly and negatively impact sailors' and soldiers' intentions to remain in military service past current enlistment obligations, but this effect is only indirect through job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Neither level of contact nor social comparisons with civilians have a significant direct effect on intention to remain in service for military personnel. Consistent with prior research, job satisfaction significantly increases organizational commitment, which, in turn, significantly increases retention intentions. Civilian mariner data indicate that social comparisons did not directly or indirectly affect retention intentions. Though sample size limited the ability to path analyze the data from the Army civilian contractors, correlation analysis suggests that similar patterns among variables are present in terms of direction and magnitude of the partial correlation coefficients. Implications of these results and recommendations for future research are discussed.