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Why jump out of a perfectly good airplane?: Parachute training, self-efficacy and leading in combat
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Work and organizational psychology. Försvarshögskolan, Stockholm.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4323-0266
2021 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Training military officers to lead in combat has always presented a training paradox: it is impossible to expose individuals to the inherent strains and dangers of real combat, but combat is where they are supposed to lead, making those demands normative for training. To overcome this paradox, the military uses training courses where stress is as realistic as possible within ethical limits. One frequent example of such a course is parachute training. Completing one demanding task (parachuting) can also increase the individual’s belief that other tasks with equal or even greater difficulty (leading in combat) can be overcome similarly. The overall aim of this thesis was to investigate whether and how military parachute training can function as a method for leadership development. The purpose of Study I was to investigate whether military parachute training was associated with an increase in leadership self-efficacy. The results show that parachute training increased leader self-control efficacy when compared to the different training of a group of cadets. In addition, the training given contributed to increased leader assertiveness efficacy for both groups. The purpose of Study II was to investigate whether the inability to complete training was associated with any direct and sustained effects. The results show that there were no differences between those who completed training and those who did not. Regarding outcome, leader self-control efficacy decreased significantly for those who were unable to complete training when compared to those who did. The purpose of Study III was to examine how the two sub-domains of leadership self-efficacy examined in the first two studies were associated with leadership behaviors, specifically those described in the developmental leadership model. The results show that leader assertiveness efficacy was the best predictor to the dimensions of developmental leadership. Leader self-control efficacy seems to be more related to functioning within an extreme context. Overall, the thesis indicates that parachute training can help to prepare future military leaders to lead in combat. The results imply that the effects of parachute training are indirect rather than directly associated to leadership and that ability to remain composure in extreme situations in turn enables individual behaviors, including leadership. The thesis also contributes insight into the process of how personal beliefs can be transferred or generalized across different areas or domains in a person’s life. The results are also relevant for other professions that routinely work in extreme contexts. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Psykologiska institutionen, Stockholms universitet , 2021. , p. 75
Keywords [en]
Parachute, leadership, self-efficacy, combat, training
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-189911ISBN: 978-91-7911-410-7 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7911-411-4 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-189911DiVA, id: diva2:1525845
Public defence
2021-03-26, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2021-03-03 Created: 2021-02-04 Last updated: 2022-02-25Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Preparing to lead in combat: Development of leadership self-efficacy by static-line parachuting
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Preparing to lead in combat: Development of leadership self-efficacy by static-line parachuting
2019 (English)In: Military Psychology, ISSN 0899-5605, E-ISSN 1532-7876, Vol. 31, no 6, p. 481-489Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The current study examined whether a static-line parachute program could help prepare future military officers to lead in extreme situations by increasing leadership self-efficacy. Parachute training is commonly used for preparing to lead in combat since it presents a perceived threat to life which requires active mastery. Achieving such mastery facilitates the development of leader self-control efficacy and leader assertiveness efficacy. This assumption was tested in a real training situation within the Swedish Military Academy where two groups of cadets were included in the study. The group of cadets undertaking parachute training conducted repeated measures of assessment of their self-efficacy before and after the course as well as at a five-month follow-up. The results show that parachute training increased leader self-control efficacy when compared to a group of cadets who undertook different training. In addition, the training given contributed to increased leader assertiveness efficacy for both groups.

Keywords
parachute, self-efficacy, leadership training
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-176736 (URN)10.1080/08995605.2019.1670583 (DOI)000493971400001 ()
Available from: 2019-12-11 Created: 2019-12-11 Last updated: 2022-03-23Bibliographically approved
2. Direct and sustained effects on leadership self-efficacy due to the inability to complete a parachute training course
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Direct and sustained effects on leadership self-efficacy due to the inability to complete a parachute training course
2020 (English)In: Nordic Psychology, ISSN 1901-2276, E-ISSN 1904-0016, Vol. 72, no 3, p. 222-234Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The present study examined a parachute training course intended to improve the leadership abilities of future military officers. Two research questions were examined. First, whether there were any differences between completers and non-completers in anxiety, stress, and collective identity at the beginning of the course (time 1), and second, whether there were any differences between completers and non-completers in leadership self-efficacy immediately after the course and at a five-month follow-up (time 2 and time 3). Participants were cadets from the Swedish Military Academy undergoing the course as part of their officer training curriculum. The results showed no significant differences between completers and non-completers in anxiety, stress, and collective identity at the beginning of the course (time 1). Non-completers showed a significant reduction in leader self-control efficacy compared to those who completed the training immediately after the course and at a five-month follow-up (time 2 and 3). Overall, these results indicate that non-completion of this type of demanding training could have negative effects on the individual's leader self-control efficacy.

Keywords
leadership, self-efficacy, coping, parachute
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-176507 (URN)10.1080/19012276.2019.1682646 (DOI)000497022000001 ()
Available from: 2019-12-20 Created: 2019-12-20 Last updated: 2022-02-26Bibliographically approved
3. From believing to doing: The association between leadership self-efficacy and the developmental leadership model
Open this publication in new window or tab >>From believing to doing: The association between leadership self-efficacy and the developmental leadership model
2021 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychology, E-ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 12, article id 669905Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The current study examined the association between leadership self-efficacy and the developmental leadership model. The purpose is to better understand how leadership training transfers to facets of developmental leadership. This was tested in a cross-sectional design with military commanders in the Swedish armed forces. The results show that the sub-domain of leader self-control efficacy (the cognitive and emotional ability to remain composure) did predict developmental leadership in only one dimension of being an exemplary model, but that leader assertiveness efficacy (the ability to make rational decisions) predicted the two dimensions of exemplary model and inspiration & motivation in developmental leadership. One possibility is that leader self-control efficacy can be what enables the individual to function within an extreme context, but leader assertiveness efficacy can be what most determine the leadership performance within that context. The possibility for mediatory analyses in further research is discussed.

Keywords
self-efficacy, leadership, developmental leadership, self-control, assertiveness
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-189909 (URN)10.3389/fpsyg.2021.669905 (DOI)000687287400001 ()
Available from: 2021-02-04 Created: 2021-02-04 Last updated: 2022-02-25Bibliographically approved

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