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Dr Charles Kirke

Dr Charles Kirke

Senior Lecturer
Centre for Management & Leadership
Cranfield Defence and Security
T: +44 (0) 1793 785381

Areas of expertise

Defence and Security, Human Factors for Defence, Management, Managing People and Global Careers, Human Factors

Current Activities

Charles's recent work has included research into policy, process, and practice connected to Safety Culture in the British Armed Services, Knowledge and Information Management in large Defence organisations, the effects of culture in the absorption of military training, the influence of distinctly separate Service Cultures on the achievement of MOD business, and the understanding by Army personnel of the British Army's espoused Values and Standards. In addition to this research, he is the lead for Cranfield University's annual international Symposium on ‘Culture in Conflict'.

His perennial research interests include: the organisational culture of the British Army, and, more recently, the other Armed Services and the Civil Service; the connection between Leadership and Organisational Culture; Military Cohesion; the integration of Reserves on Operations; Fighting Spirit; Bullying; the integration of Women into the Armed Services; and the keeping/bending/'breaking of formal rules in the lived experience of members of disciplined organisations. In parallel, he has continued an extended interest in the human elements in Fratricide in Battle. In pursuing these research interests, apart from a number of academic journal articles and book chapters, he has published a book on British Army Culture ('Red Coat Green Machine') and edited a book on 'Fratricide in Battle'.

His research methods are weighted towards the qualitative, through focus groups and interviews and participant observation where practicable, using theoretical paradigms from social science. He brings an unusual combination of military experience and academic expertise to his work.

  • Background

    Charles's first career (36 years) was as a commissioned officer in the British Army, Royal Regiment of Artillery. He followed the normal British military pattern of Regimental Duty and Staff posts, attaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and he took a degree in Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University early on in this career. His staff posts included writing Operational Requirements in the Ministry of Defence, acting as the principal staff officer to the Commander, Royal Artillery UK Land Forces, technical posts in Electronic Warfare and Human Factors, and six years on the military teaching staff of the then Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham. During all this time he studied the culture of the British Army as a self-motivated insider anthropologist, carrying out a Defence Fellowship in this area in 1993/4 at Cambridge University, Department of Social Anthropology, which led on to a PhD with Cranfield University in 2003. He is one of a very small number of military officers to have completed his PhD whilst in service. He also maintained and developed his growingexpertise in the technical and human aspects of Fratricide in Battle.

    Before joining Cranfield University in 2004, he was an independent research consultant, carrying out contracts with King's College London (Defence Studies Department at the Joint Services Command and Staff College), QinetiQ (Human Factors Integration) and with the Royal Military College of Science (Human Factors education and training).

  • Clients

    Recent clients for Charles's research include:

    • DE&S Learning from Experience
    • The Directorate of Army Personal Strategy
    • The Defence Leadership and Management Centre
    • Dstl, through the Defence Human Capability Science & Technology Centre

  • Publications

    Kirke C (2012) Insider anthropology: theoretical and empirical Issues for the researcher. In: Qualitative Methods in Military Studies: Reseach Experiences and Challenges. Helena Carrerias and Celso Castro (ed.), London: Routledge.

    Kirke C (2012) Fratricide in battle: (un)friendly fire.

    Kirke C (2010) Military cohesion, culture and social psychology, Defense and Security Analysis, 26 (2) 143-159.

    Kirke C (2010) Orders is orders . . . aren't they? Rule bending and rule breaking in the British Army, Ethnography, 11 (3) 359-380.

    Kirke C (2009) Group cohesion, culture, and practice, Armed Forces & Society, 35 (4) 745-753.

    Kirke C (2009) Red coat green machine: continuity and change in the British Army 1700-2000

    . London: Continuum, ed. 1.

    Kirke C (2008) Carreiras, H. (2006). Gender and the military: women in the Armed Forces of western democracies. London: Routledge.

    Kirke C (2005) Organizational culture : can system designers ignore it?, IET Seminar Digest, 2005 (11078) 9-15.

    Kirke CMS & York J (2005) Postmodernist Command: A Contradiction in Terms for the British Army, Defence Studies, 5 (3).

    Kirke C (2005) Grappling with the Stereotype: British Army Culture and Perceptions: an Anthropology from Within. In: 4th Int Critical Mgt Studies Conf, Cambridge, 2005, 1.1.2005.

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