Motivation is transitory - a field study on Expectations and Motivations for military service among recruits at KNM Harald Haarfagre

FFI-Report 2020

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Report number

20/02085

ISBN

978-82-464-3286-1

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3.7 MB

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Nina Hellum

The quote the title refers to – «motivation is perishable» – is often repeated amongst military personnel. It entails the idea that motivation for service is in constant transformation and needs to be upheld. Motivation for military service among youth, both for conscription, but also for further education and career, is influenced by several different factors. The Parliament proposal 62 S from April 2020 underlines how the Norwegian Armed Forces loses personnel with academic and leadership ambitions much earlier than desired. This study examines some of the factors affecting expectations and motivation amongst recruits, and later conscripts, in the Norwegian Navy.

There is generally a high level of well-being among the recruits at KNM Harald Haarfagre at Madla camp. Many of them have shared their expectations of the conscript period and how they experienced meeting the military culture. Several say they expected a physically harder service, «nasty» officers, and less theory. Some were not motivated for service, but were summoned due to being resourceful and skilled in disciplines needed by the military. Good academic results, good physical shape, or a certificate of apprenticeship are all possible reasons for summoning recruits regardless of motivation. Some have negative experiences that demotivate, while others perceive military life as meaningful in such a fashion that they want to continue on the military path.

One of the main findings of this study is how access to information can affect motivation in either a negative or a positive manner. Thorough and comprehensive information concerning possibilities and demands can motivate to choose a future military career. However, there are also examples of the opposite; lack of knowledge concerning possibilities and achievable goals, leads to confusion and reduced motivation for further service. We have a series of findings about how motivation is affected throughout the recruit period. When positive expectations are met, or negative ones are not, it seems to increase, or at lease uphold, motivation for service. Thorough information about career possibilities and demands within the military organisation affects the recruits’ motivation to accomplish the conscription period, but also their motivation to engage in military studies or a military career. In addition, many of the recruits express a need to be seen and acknowledged. A notion of not being individually taken care of by the organisation might also have a demotivating effect. For some, only emphasising the military’s requests can have a demotivating effect, especially in those cases where the requirements of the individual and the organisation do not align.

The Norwegian Armed Forces is a comprehensive organisation with many concerns. Nevertheless, it might be expedient investing in persons more likely to pursue a longer military career. The empirical evidence from this study suggests that many recruits and conscripts are thriving and motivated for service, but they lack thorough information and follow-up. In addition, we see single cases where feedback and encouragement could have made a difference. The military can choose personnel from the «top shelf» due to gender-neutral conscription. The candidates who on paper do not seem to up to the mark as well as the “best” might actually be the ones best suited for a military career.

About publication

Report number

20/02085

ISBN

978-82-464-3286-1

Format

PDF-document

Size

3.7 MB

Download publication

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