S.W.A.T: The Impact of Extreme Environmental Conditions on Organizational Culture

Simmons, Christopher (2014) S.W.A.T: The Impact of Extreme Environmental Conditions on Organizational Culture. Doctoral thesis, Meridian University.


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It is believed that various environmental conditions can affect organizational culture, influencing the formation, association, and development of the informal bodies of a given group. This study is founded in the Research Problem revolving around how the high risk nature of specialized enforcement groups operating in extreme environmental conditions impacts the organizational culture of such groups. The secondary research questions relate to the notion of interdependence and the social pressures that collectively drive the adaptive structures and perceived reference identities of the group. Such inquiry studies how a group perceives itself, as well as the ways in which a group references its behaviors and its sense of identity internally and externally. Also, archetypal shadow formation and progression within these groups is at the forefront of this research. The study’s hypothesis postulates that those groups operating under extreme environmental conditions have a unique organizational culture where interdependence and a high degree of shared values exist. This culture compels members to adhere to distinct customs and rituals needed for the perceived v survival of the group. This interdependence can ultimately impact informal subgroup formation and propagate shadow formation. The Literature Review considered sources from five clusters: organization theory, organizational culture and membership, shadow psychology, extreme conditions, and interdependence. Sources were drawn from a variety of disciplines including psychology, sociology, management, organizational development, political science, and law enforcement studies. Amalgamating literature from these clusters provided a comprehensive lens by which to examine the full significance of the impact that extreme environmental conditions have on organizational culture. The methodology for this study employed the system of Imaginal Inquiry. A total of two separate meetings were held with seven participants; the participants met individually at each session. The intention of the initial meeting was to familiarize each participant with the forthcoming process and provide him or her with ground rules of the exercise, which involved a three-stage evoking arrangement. The participants were invited to experience three media segments related to groups immersed in the midst of extreme environmental conditions. Participants were then asked to express their experiences to the media in both written and verbal modalities. A second and final meeting after data collection and analysis served the primary purpose of presenting my interpretations of the data to the participants and soliciting further feedback on the research; four of the seven participants were available for the second meeting. The cumulative learning of this research identified specialized enforcement group members’ tendencies to develop intense attachments to their host group in vi attempts to cope with the extreme environmental factors they are routinely subjected to. This dynamic forms a constricted type of organizational culture and promotes a splitting approach to how members relate to influences outside of the group’s boundaries. Five distinct learnings emerged from this study. Learning One stated: The presence of extreme conditions in a group environment can likely bring about a perceived sentiment of profound inclusion among group members, where affiliates feel compelled to an allegiance and camaraderie within the identified group structure. Learning Two stated: Continued exposure to operating in a high risk environment enables members of specialized enforcement groups to embrace and endure extreme and intolerable images. Learning Three stated: Specialized enforcement group members are highly resolute and bifurcated, where archetypal shadow formations propagate, such as projection, other-izing and scapegoating. Learning Four stated: Perceived failure and noncompliance with formal and informal values of the organizational culture of specialized enforcement groups leads to archetypal shame. Finally, Learning Five stated: The organizational culture of specialized enforcement groups supports an emotional detachment from imagery related to traumatic events directly associated with the high risk or extreme nature of such groups. The significance of these learnings highlighted team members’ intense interdependence behaviors, further emphasizing the pressures to conform to group ideals. This study also exposed the psychological conditioning team members experience in order to physically and mentally survive in extreme environments. A mythic lens was used to offer additional perspective, especially in terms of team vii members’ reflections on the shame and trauma endured as a result of their environments.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Psychology > Critical Theory
Depositing User: Chris Simmons
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2017 22:35
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2017 22:35
URI: http://scholarship.meridianuniversity.edu/id/eprint/89

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