Unpacking Military Emulation: Absorptive Capacity and German Counterinsurgency Doctrine during ISAF

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Which organisational activities promote effective military emulation? Which variables facilitate and impede the emergence of these activities? Drawing upon the academic literatures on military change and management studies, as well as semi-structured interviews within the British and German militaries, this article identifies five key organisational activities which promote effective inter-organisational doctrinal learning. In doing so, the article improves understanding of the contribution that management studies can make to multi-disciplinary scholarship on military learning. The article examines the variables which facilitate the emergence of activities which support effective inter-organisational doctrinal learning through a case study of Bundeswehr doctrinal absorptive capacity during ISAF. It also explores the impact of these activities on doctrine development. The article demonstrates the crucial importance of active and well-informed civilian oversight of the activities which support military learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-54
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Security
Issue number1
Early online date15 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Absorptive capacity
  • Counterinsurgency
  • German military
  • inter-organisational learning
  • Military learning
  • Military emulation

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