The US Navy: Organizational Behavior


Organizational behavior is defined as the study of the interdependence between human behavior and organizational settings. As every reliable organization has its own unique culture, corporate values, guidelines, and visions substantially affect the behavioral patterns of employees.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the influence of various organizational areas on the organizational behavior of the US Navy. According to the results of the research, the organizational culture of the US Navy has distinct features, such as order, direct control, obedience, the division of functions, hierarchy, internal and external motivation, and emotional control. All elements have a substantial impact on the behavior of mariners that may be characterized by fighting spirit, unconditional obedience, and readiness to overcome difficulties for the success in warfare.

Military Organizational Culture

In order to understand the organizational culture of the US Navy, it is essential to investigate the organizational culture of military forces in general due to common features. Military organizations may be regarded as “societies unto themselves” that have their own history, sociology, traditions, values, and beliefs (Hill, 2015, p. 86). The strategic and operational concepts of effective performance in the context of military activities are substantially connected with the principles of individual identity and social status (Hill, 2015).

In this sphere, society means both “the micro-society of the military and the society of the state the military man or woman is sworn to protect” (Hill, 2015, p. 87). For military forces, any kind of innovation is highly challenging as current developments not only influence the prosecution of warfare but alter the interrelation between the soldier, marine, airman, or sailor and the organization.

Conservatism is one of the most peculiar features of the military organizational culture. Military forces are permanently reinforcing “their ties to the past” for two main reasons (Hill, 2015, p. 87). First of all, military organizations emphasize the significance of ceremonies, traditions, and the distinctness of military communities that impregnate their members with a specific sense of collective identity (Hill, 2015). Second, military forces substantively value the knowledge concerning the tactics and strategies of war received throughout the course of history. They learn highly valuable lessons from the victories and failures of others and use this experience to develop new military concepts and principles for potential applications in the future. In general, the military organizational culture is characterized by self-sacrifice, collectivism, obedience, and the devotion to practical knowledge, history, and traditions.

Types of Culture

In general, culture may be defined as values, attitudes, knowledge, beliefs, behavior, art, and music of people from a particular society. However, culture may be regarded not only as values and beliefs but the abilities and potential of all humans in their society. There are various types of cultures, including pluralism, dualism, and the Salad bowl. Cultural pluralism is a social phenomenon that may be characterized by the existence of various small groups that are able to keep their own cultures within the dominant group. These groups have their unique and distinctive cultural identities, beliefs, values, and practices accepted by a larger society.

The society with cultural pluralism implies the peaceful coexistence of a principal group with various ethnic minorities on the basis of mutual respect to cultural identities. There is not only cooperation of multiple communities in the economic and civic institutions but the acceptance of diverse languages, behavioral patterns, lifestyles, manners, family structures, and religious beliefs in a positive way. Native Americans who live in the territory of the United States though have their own government, schools, religious practices, and value systems excellently illustrate cultural pluralism in the society.

In turn, cultural dualism represents the objective reality of legal, cultural, political, and linguistic biculturalism. This type of culture may be regarded as the historically balanced coexistence of two major groups. Canadian society divided into English and French parts is one of the most spectacular examples of cultural dualism as its certain aspects manifest duality in a sociologically observable way.

The symmetrical and well-balanced presence of two country-founding groups is determined by Canada’s colonization by the English and the French. Despite the fact that cultural values and beliefs, languages, lifestyles, and behavioral patterns of both major groups are accepted in equal measures, the achievement of well-intended harmony between them is considerably abstract and illusory.

The cultural concept of the Salad bowl is traditionally opposed to the idea of the melting pot that implies substantial or full assimilation and the adoption of the main society’s cultural standards. The Salad bowl means that all individuals save their cultural peculiarities and do not assume the characteristics of another society. Contemporary American society may illustrate the Salad bowl cultural idea. Although a substantial number of immigrants respect American standards, they stay loyal to their cultural values, religious beliefs, and lifestyles. That is why a modern society resembles a salad that implies a complete dish, however, all ingredients are distinguishable.

Similar to any military organization, the US Navy emphasizes obedience, order, clear division of function, and hierarchy. Moreover, “the supremacy of the society over the individual” may be regarded as the peculiar feature of the Navy’s organizational culture (Hill, 2015, p. 87). That is why the concepts of pluralism and multiculturalism that underline the significance of the people’s diversity may have a substantively negative effect on the US Navy.

This military organization value the person’s individual characteristics such as loyalty, a sense of duty, fighting spirit, enthusiasm, and commitment that will be immeasurably helpful in peacetime and in case of armed conflict in particular (Hill, 2015). The increased attention to the soldier’s cultural diversity may negatively influence the order of military society (Hill, 2015). The US Navy’s structure implies all units’ unconditional obedience to orders regardless of the individuals’ cultural and religious values and beliefs or attitudes towards the rationality of warfare.

Modes of Communication

It goes without saying that formal and informal communication in all organizations encompasses all ways by which information moves between supervisors and employees. The modes of communication, written and verbal, are used to spread official information between management and personnel, coordinate the organization’s activities, and exchange rumors. They are essential for enhancing productivity, building knowledge-sharing within a company, and the establishment of the relationship between workers. All companies, regardless of their size, use multiple methods of communication between employees such as e-mails, letters, memos, magazines, reports, bulletin boards, verbal public announcements, and face-to-face personal interaction.

Military communication embraces all aspects and modes of information conveyance that are used by armed forces. Derived from audible and visual signals, such as horns, drums, runners, riders, and flags, in the past, military communication has currently progressed to electronic technologies. All modes of communication are highly essential for military forces as they provide battlefield advantages due to the rapid spread of essential information and minimize misunderstanding between units. At the present day, it includes texts, audio records, facsimile, terrestrial microwave, naval satellite systems, tropospheric scatter, encryption, signal analysis, jamming, direction-finding, and surveillance.

In general, both verbal and written modes of communication are permanently used in the US Navy. This military organization was the first one that applied non-verbal communication techniques to transmit information between naval and shore units. Throughout history, the US Navy has constantly improved its modes of communication and implemented technological advancements. At the present time, for the US Navy, secure communication is a fundamental requirement as the modern fleet substantially relies on satellite and radio technologies. In the military network-centric environment, capable and efficient networks for data and voice transmissions became immeasurably important. However, concerning the spread of non-official information, all rumors are strongly disapproved.

Nature of Authority

Authority may be regarded as the legitimate and formal right of the organization’s manager to allocate resources, issue orders, and make decisions for the effective working process and the achievement of corporate goals. There are three fundamental principles of organizational authority – it is based on the person’s position, accepted by subordinates, and determined by vertical hierarchy.

Authority is substantially connected with leadership that may be represented in several styles such as autocratic, coaching, democratic, and delegating (Thompson & Glasø, 2015). Autocratic leadership is associated with line authority that is characterized by the recognized social rank in an organization and individual control and decision-making. Coaching and democratic styles of leadership imply staff and functional types of authority when a manager accepts assisting and advising from employees and may delegate limited authority to his or her subordinates. Delegating leadership implicates the team members’ freedom in decision-making and organization of the working process.

It goes without saying that coaching, democratic, or delegating styles of leadership and functional or staff authority may have a highly negative impact on the organizational culture of the US Navy. This military organization is primarily characterized by hierarchy and recognized social ranking. The discussions concerning the rationale of potential tactics and strategies are possible between the individuals that have the same authority, while subordinates should take order unconditionally. Every person in the structure of the US Navy knows his duties and responsibilities determined by a position.

Motivational Techniques

Motivation is conditioned upon numerous factors, and the most essential of them are extrinsic and intrinsic. Despite the fact that these types of motivation may have a different impact on people’s behavior, commitment, and the desire to pursue goals, they are highly significant for the working process. Extrinsic motivation may be observed when people are motivated to engage in activities in order to avoid punishment or earn a reward. The cooperation of team members and their efficient performance determined by substantial payment after the completion of a project is an example of extrinsic motivation. In turn, intrinsic motivation is characterized by personal inner rewarding. For instance, if an employee works at a project because he or she experiences excitement, joy, or satisfaction, such motivation is intrinsic.

Concerning the US Navy, both types of motivation are immeasurably beneficial for mariners. First of all, the success in military operations, advantages over enemies, and the obtaining of a reward or higher rank may be regarded as a strong motivation that substantially influences performance. However, the personal characteristics of mariners, such as fighting spirit, patriotism, and commitment, motivate them to overcome difficulties, defeat enemies, and get a victory as well.

Emotional Quotient of the Organization

Emotional quotient is defined as the measurement of individual emotional intelligence (EI) that implies the person’s ability to control emotions, thoughts, behavior, and actions and cope with working pressure and demands for efficiency and collaboration. The ability to analyze various situations and structure relations with colleagues and managers plays a highly significant role in EI as well. It traditionally includes two dimensions – interpersonal awareness and intrapersonal awareness. Interpersonal awareness refers to social skills and empathy, while intrapersonal awareness relates to individual characteristics, such as self-regulation, self-awareness, and motivation.

For the US Navy, all areas of emotional quotient are immeasurably essential and beneficial for the organization’s effective performance. According to recent studies, emotional intelligence “is significantly associated with leadership effectiveness in a military training context” (Koh & O’Higgins, 2018, p. 27). It goes without saying that the ability to control emotions is highly important for mariners as the absence of emotional aspects, self-regulation, discipline, and obedience are the key elements of military organizational culture.

Virtual Elements of the Organization

Organizational virtual elements, such as virtual offices or teleworking, may be regarded as the latest business innovation due to technological achievements. A virtual office differs from a traditional facility by the absence of a specific working location. Employees conduct all their activities remotely from any region of the United States or worldwide. They work from their own homes or rented office spaces and shared office buildings.

All conversation between management and subordinates is realized through electronic computer-based systems, such as instant messaging, video calls, discussion forums, audio conferences, social networking sites, application sharing, and online charts (Camilleri & Hernández, 2016). The system of virtual offices may be highly beneficial for responsible and disciplined people. They value independence and understand the significance of time-sensitive performance, though they feel uncomfortable from the manager’s direct control and organizational activities that do not relate to the working process.

Despite the fact that the US Navy, similar to any modern military organization, values and applies computer-based technologies for communication between units and departments, virtual organizational elements are not substantially developed. The structure and purposes of the US Navy imply constant operational availability and exclude elements that may independently compile their schedule or avoid authoritative control.


Similar to any military organization, the US Navy values practical knowledge, history, traditions, collectivism, and self-sacrifice. Unconditional obedience, order, and the clear division of functions may be regarded as the fundamental features of the Navy’s corporate culture. This military organization is characterized by hierarchy and recognized social ranking as well. Although the attention to cultural diversity is not appreciated, personal characteristics of mariners, such as loyalty, patriotism, a sense of duty, fighting spirit, enthusiasm, and commitment, are essential. Moreover, these positive traits of character, emotional control, and readiness to overcome difficulties for the success in warfare that may serve as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are developed in the process of military service. In addition, the US Navy requires secure information conveyance for its supremacy and effective operation and constantly improves its modes of communication and implements technological advancements.


Camilleri, G., & Hernández, J. E. (2016). Negotiation and collaborative technologies in organisations and supply chains: Introduction to the special issue. Group Decision and Negotiation, 25(6), 1091-1096. Web.

Hill, A. (2015). Culture and the US army: Military innovation and military culture. Parameters, 45(1), 85-98.

Koh, C. B., & O’Higgins, E. (2018). Relationships between emotional intelligence, perceived and actual leadership effectiveness in the military context. Military Psychology, 30(1), 27-42. Web.

Thompson, G., & Glasø, L. (2015). Situational leadership theory: A test from three perspectives. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 36(5), 527-544. Web.

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