• The military does not have final control of the location of its operations. There are statutory limits, for example, on how many personnel can be assigned to the Washington, D.C., area. These limits are set independently of the organization's own judgments about efficient placement of personnel. On a more general level, decisions about the placement of military bases are heavily interwoven with local economies and jobs. As mentioned above, base closures and decisions about size and staffing are often based on civilian economic concerns and heavily brokered in a political arena that often ignores the functional and strategic requirements of the organization.

    The other major factor is that operations in the future will be manned following today's predictions of likely missions. These predictions are often made by expert panels to meet a preconceived goal of either cutting or expanding the military, regardless of the desirable force mix. When the experts are incorrect in their estimates, the active-duty military leaders are often called to explain to Congress why they had the wrong troop mix, weapons systems, or inadequate training.
  • The military does not determine all of its own standards for its personnel. Such rules as age requirements and limits, physical standards, and other aspects of policy regarding the attributes of the officer component are partially determined by legislation. In particular, the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act sets some of the standards for service. The organization has difficulty in arranging exceptions to statutory standards for specific operational purposes. The services may impose their own supplemental standards regarding height, weight, physical fitness, disqualifying disabilities, and so forth, as they find appropriate. All are potentially subject to congressional review.

As noted above, this list is not complete, nor are all the items of equal importance. They do give a start to suggesting differences between the United States military as an organization and some of the other organizations more frequently examined by corporately oriented organizational theorists.


Kotter, J.P., and Heskett, J.L. 1992 Corporate Culture and Performance. New York: Free Press.

Ouchi, W.G. 1981 Theory Z: How American Business Can Meet the Japanese Challenge . Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

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