Coping with discontent in contemporary armed forces - The Dutch case

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This qualitative study focuses on how Dutch military personnel cope with work-related discontent. In 24 interviews with personnel from four major branches of the Dutch armed forces we discussed their positive and negative experiences, the strategies they apply to cope with discontent and the restrictions they face when doing so, the role of the trade unions, the possibility of exit and finally loyalty and pride related to their work. Our results show that while military personnel value their jobs highly, they also feel pressured by the organizational changes which have both material and immaterial consequences. Collective protest to such developments remains elusive, due to the restrictions present in the organization – in particular hierarchy, feelings of loyalty, the feelings of helplessness and the threat of repercussions. Individual strategies of coping seem dominant – whether that is individual voice supported by the collectivity of trade union or leaving the organization altogether.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalRes Militaris
VolumeERGOMAS issue n°4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

ERGOMAS issue n°4, “Recruitment & Retention, Part 1” (2017)


  • Armed forces
  • discontent
  • voice
  • exit
  • loyalty
  • trade unions


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