Measuring Professional Attitudes in Canada's Army

Article excerpt

Using a paper-and-pencil survey format, measures of professional attitudes were obtained from 2,470 members of the land component (i.e., army) of the Canadian Forces. Six dimensions of military professionalism were examined in the study--three derived from Huntington's (1957) model of military professionalism, two adapted from Canadian Forces doctrine on military professionalism, and one from Moskos' (1977) conceptualization of institutional-occupational role orientation. Results showed considerable overlap in professionalism dimensions as well as relations among the professionalism dimensions and outcome measures of satisfaction, commitment and organizational citizenship behaviour. Finally, professionalism differences were also observed across ranks in that higher-ranked individuals scored higher on professional attitudes than lower ranked respondents.

The concept of professionalism has enjoyed increased interest in military circles in recent years. Last year, the Canadian Forces (CF) published what is perhaps the first ever doctrinal manual on military professionalism in Canada (Duty with Honour, 2003). The year before, Matthews (2002) of the United States Military Academy at West Point edited a volume of articles on army professionalism. At about the same time in a speech at the Royal Military College of Canada, the Chief of Land Staff (i.e., the head of the army in Canada), described Canada's Army of the future as being more "professional", among other things. Military professionalism is also a topic of interest in Eastern European nations as they establish democratic control of their militaries in their move towards greater integration with the West (Sarvas, 1999). As a result of this widespread interest in military professionalism, we believe that developing a measure of professional military attitudes is a worthy line of research. This paper describes our attempts: (a) to develop a measure of military professionalism, and (b) to examine relations among professional attitudes and well-known employment attitudes like commitment, satisfaction and organizational citizenship behaviour.

Within the Canadian military community the bestknown authority on the concept of military professionalism is Huntington (1957). Writing about the American military of his day, Huntington's position was that the military officer corps is a profession like the medical or legal profession because it embodies the three professional criteria of expertise, responsibility and corporateness. Because Huntington's assessment focused on the organizational level and "analyzing the character of the modern officer corps" (p. 24), it is not clear if his three professional criteria extend to the individual level of analysis. Thus, the feasibility of using the Huntington framework to examine the professional attitudes of individual officers, noncommissioned members and soldiers is uncertain.

Dimensions of Professionalism

Huntington (1957) viewed expertise as specialized knowledge held by the professional practitioner and gained through extensive study of the profession. According to Huntington, more expertise implied higher levels of professionalism. At the individual level of analysis, we suggest that Huntington's expertise construct comprises two elements: (a) a certain level of expertise already gained, and (b) an active program on the part of the professional to continuously upgrade this specialized knowledge. In our application of Huntington, a professional who is not constantly staying abreast of developments in his or her profession is lacking in the area of expertise.

Huntington (1957) conceptualized responsibility as social responsibility, reflecting the extent to which the professional organization provides a service that is essential to society. Also included in Huntington's definition of responsibility is the requirement for the profession to regulate its members by enforcing codes of ethics and the need for the individual professional to be intrinsically motivated by "love of his craft" and committed to the state by a "sense of social obligation to utilize this craft for the benefit of society" (p. …

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