FINCENT Invites Academic Research Partners into Viking 18 Exercise

Defence Forces International Centre FINCENT 23.4.2018 18.49
Press release

Two academic studies are conducted during the multinational joint staff exercise VIKING18 site Finland in Santahamina. Both studies are done in collaboration with FINCENT who wants to promote academic research to develop peace operations and crisis management training. The practice of including academic research partners in staff exercises is rather novel and holds great promise for new views and ideas on peace operations.

Hanken School of Economics postdoctoral researcher Jouni Virtaharju joins the Information Management Office-team to observe how the brigade operates. "A staff exercise like Viking18 is a fascinating research subject for an organization scholar," says Dr Virtaharju. The exercise organization consists of people who have only limited experience of the roles and tasks designated to them and who probably do not know their coworkers beforehand. "The whole organization is recruited simultaneously," Virtaharju observes. From a research perspective, it is interesting to follow how a new organization emerges when people learn their individual and coworkers' tasks. The exercise context shows how the formal organization structure and the Standard Operation Procedure do not fully answer how an organization works. During the exercise week the participants co-create the micro level social practices that are vital for the everyday life of the organization. "To observe the emergence of these practices is interesting from a research point of view," Virtaharju remarks.

Dr. Jouni Virtaharju

Studying a multinational joint staff as an environment of (inter)action

The research group from the University of Oulu includes three researchers: Professor Pentti Haddington, doctoral student Antti Kamunen and technician M. Ed. Antti Siipo. The researchers are focusing on a multinational staff of a tactical operation centre (TOC) in a peace operation, and they have equipped the TOC room with video cameras (including a 360° video camera) and several studio-level microphones. "We are very excited to be here, because participating in a peace operation exercise like this and getting to collect several days of video recordings in such a context is a rare, if not even a unique opportunity," says Professor Pentti Haddington. In this sense, the research based on the huge data set will be quite ground-breaking, and it will provide new findings about the complexity of multinational joint staff as a site of interaction. "Using video also means that we follow strict ethical guidelines ensuring the training audience’s anonymity in any research reports," Professor Haddington continues.

"We have been received very well by the training audience, and the help we have received from the people working in the exercise has been invaluable," says Kamunen. The military community will benefit from the research in that it can foreground practices that help support and maintain good communication and situation awareness in TOCs. Later this year, the research group will also be complemented with a doctoral student funded by the Eudaimonia Institute at the University of Oulu, and his/her research will focus on the materials collected during the VIKING18 exercise. "We are very thankful to all those who have supported us during this process, and we are very excited to get started with our analysis," says Haddington.

Antti Kamunen, Pentti Haddington and Antti Siipo (seated)