Researchers explain methods of change to the U.S. Army

June 21, 2005

A team of Wayne State University researchers from the School of Business Administration, the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, the Department of Anthropology and the Institute for Information Technology and Culture will present new methods for achieving organizational transformation to the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) at 9 a.m. June 30th.

The team will address the theme, “Managing Transitions: How Does This Affect Me?”, at TACOM’s Community Week Conference (Warren, MI, June 27-30). The presentation will provide a framework for the application of qualitative methods to assess sociotechnical issues related to organizational transformation. The framework provides a tool for management in the design and implementation of change initiatives.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is determined to help the military respond to 21st century threats more effectively, but often those who design or implement the initiatives necessary to transform the military encounter cultural barriers to change.

The methods employed by organizational anthropologists have attracted the attention of industrialists and business leaders -- especially in the development or change of institutional behavior, where culture has long been recognized as a critical factor. Trained in organizational research methodology and change management, anthropologists have developed specialized skills that provide valuable insights applicable to transformation.

Four case studies will be presented to illustrate application of qualitative methods in transformation. The case studies include implementing a new IT system, process development and implementation, organizational learning and process formalization, and achieving Lean Logistics within the US Air Force. These case studies illustrate how organizations have employed anthropological research methods to assist them in understanding the underlying values and assumptions that inhibit change efforts, as well as those that can be harnessed to facilitate change initiatives.

U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command http://www.tacom.army.mil/main/
TACOM, the U.S. Army's Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, headquartered in Warren, Michigan, in partnership with the Army's Program Executive Offices, is one of the Army's largest weapon systems research, development, and sustainment organizations.

IITC is a multidisciplinary group of medical and organizational anthropologists, psychologists, engineers, nurses, social workers, computer experts and doctors collaborating to understand the cultural aspects of technology use. For further information, regarding this event or IITC, please contact Dr. Allen W. Batteau, Director, 313.874.7010 or a.batteau@wayne.edu, or visit http://www.iitc.wayne.edu.

Wayne State University is a premier institution offering more than 350 academic programs through 12 schools and colleges to more than 33,000 students.