Dealing with discontent in the Dutch military

Igor Petrovic

Research output: PhD ThesisPhD-Thesis - Research and graduation internal

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The overarching question presented in this dissertation focuses on the way Dutch military personnel dealt with work-related discontent during a turbulent period of austerity in the early 2010s. This question is interesting for two main reasons. First, just like military personnel in many other Western countries in the post-Cold War period, Dutch military personnel face a changing organization. Arguably, this means increased organizational and socio-economic pressures and a prolonged period of turmoil. Second, military personnel operate within a specific context, marked by a unique military culture and specific legal rules. By leaning on Hirschman (1970) and of those who applied his work, I looked at various possible reactions to discontent – voice, defined in terms of participation in collective protest, exit, defined as an attempt to leave the organization, silence, deliberately deciding not to protest, and neglect, engaging in anti-organizational behaviour. The results show that most Dutch military personnel still appreciate their jobs. At the same time, many are worried about detrimental developments which threaten both their position as well as the Dutch military organization in general. Personnel react to these developments in various ways. In spite of turmoil, most opt to do nothing – hence engage in behaviour defined as silence. Exit is also reported widely, while only a small minority engage in voice or neglect. Panel data analysis produced limited evidence of a causal relationship between increased socio-economic and organizational pressures and protesting and exit among military personnel. At the same time, there is evidence that personnel reporting lower levels of loyalty and those with permanent contracts engage in more protest and exit once confronted with socio-economic and organizational pressures or when they perceived an improved labour market situation.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Klandermans, Bert, Supervisor
  • van Stekelenburg, J, Co-supervisor
Award date25 May 2021
Print ISBNs9789464165388
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2021


  • military, discontent, grievances, protest, voice, exit, loyalty, silence, neglect


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