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Swedish military officers through other nations’ eyes: experiences related to leadership theory, stereotypes, identity and military contextual history
Swedish Defence University, Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership (ISSL), Ledarskapscentrum.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8274-6065
Swedish Defence University, Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership (ISSL), Ledarskapscentrum.
Swedish Defence University, Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership (ISSL), Ledarskapscentrum.
Swedish Defence University, Department of Security, Strategy and Leadership (ISSL), Ledarskapscentrum.
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2016 (English)In: International Journal of Organizational Analysis, ISSN 1934-8835, E-ISSN 1758-8561, Vol. 24, no 4, 615-633 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


Globalisation of working life means that many organisations are manned by people from different countries. A potentially critical factor is how members from various nations are looked upon by their partner countries. Such perception may be more or less accurate and affect organisational outcomes. The military is no exception as modern warfare is characterised by multinational composition of task forces. The aim of this paper was to gain a deeper understanding of how military officers from other nations perceive Swedish military officers and their leadership qualities in particular.


Interviews were conducted with 20 military officers representing ten nations. Interview questions were deduced from the Developmental leadership model. Responses were first coded inductively according to the constant comparative method. Generated categories were then deductively related to this leadership model.


The analysis resulted in positive and negative patterns. The positive picture included Swedish officers being perceived as calm, competent and generally good at exhibiting exemplary leadership behaviour, showing individualised consideration and creating an inspiring atmosphere. The negative side included opinions such as Swedish officers being too emotionally restrained, exhibiting poor self-confidence, discussing too much before making decisions and having difficulties giving negative feedback. The results are discussed in relation to the Developmental leadership model and the stereotype concept.

Research limitations/implications

Small sample size and a focus on military organisations imply a low degree of generalisability.

Practical implications

Three suggestions regarding Swedish officer education are presented: officer students should be given an increased awareness of how they are perceived by others, decision-making without group support and giving negative feedback in a constructive, straight forward, but still considerate way, should be practiced and more attention should be paid to emotion management.


The paper addresses an increasing tendency in work organisations – a multinational composition of the work force. The foundation of study in leadership theory and the stereotype concept is new.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 24, no 4, 615-633 p.
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Ledarskap under påfrestande förhållanden
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-6342DOI: 10.1108/IJOA-11-2014-0817OAI: diva2:1049061
Available from: 2016-11-23 Created: 2016-11-23 Last updated: 2017-01-16Bibliographically approved

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Larsson, GerryBrandow, CarinaFors Brandebo, MariaOlsson, AliciaÅselius, Gunnar
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