Developing Future Crisis Management
An Ethnographic Journey into the Community and Practice of Multinational Experimentation
Acta Universitatis Tamperensis No. 1731

By Valtteri Vuroisalo
July 2012
Tampere University Press
ISBN: 9789514488078
259 pages
$87.50 Paper original

This thesis examines Multinational Experimentation (MNE). MNE is an international military community which develops new capabilities in the Western crisis management architecture. By developing new capabilities, MNE facilitates the transformation and evolution of the international crisis management architecture. The way to transform is to create new crisis management knowledge. MNE produces knowledge with the Concept Development and Experimentation methodology (CD&E) which provides the intellectual association for future capabilities. Since 2001, each cycle of MNE has provided a forum for the participating states and organizations to attempt to provide solutions to a perceived crisis management challenge. Instead of investigating these solutions in live operations, MNE provides a controlled, simulated scenario in which the participants may explore new crisis management hypotheses iteratively. Therefore, MNE is seen as a cost-effective and safe method to create crisis management capabilities in problem areas where the participants share a common interest.

This thesis argues that when MNE develops new solutions for the crisis management architecture, it constitutes normative and epistemic grounds for crisis management actions and affects political, economic and social events relating to crisis management. This is especially so when these new crisis management dispositions and expectations are successfully naturalized and institutionalized. Thus the MNE community of practice not only negotiates and reifies crisis management meanings internally, but also externally for the surrounding environment. Seen this way, the MNE-community is a privileged setting of acquiring and creating crisis management knowledge. Specifically, this study examines the organizing logics of the arrays of MNE activities and their trajectories. Moreover, this thesis illuminates rationalities of participation in MNE activities, how MNE contributes to the evolution of crisis management (its meaning and understandings of), and how MNE constitutes the normative and epistemic grounds for crisis management actions.

This thesis utilizes an ethnographic approach to gain unique access and gather materials from within MNE’s sixth cycle (MNE6). As such, this thesis illuminates, from within, how international development of crisis management is experienced as lived practice. Thus this thesis fills ‘the MNE gap’ in International Relations; it describes both sides of CD&E, demonstrates the MNE-CD&E connection, and exemplifies how states, when facing complexity, uncertainty and temporal challenges, find guidance for crisis management policy and enabling legislation by cooperating informally in trans-governmental settings.

The relevance of this study arises initially from the realization that MNE is currently a virtually unknown object within the field of International Relations. Examined from a practice theory perspective, this thesis contributes to the study of strategy and international security which (1) needs to map and uncover the practices that constitute strategic interaction; (2) needs to explain where these practices come from; and (3) illustrates how practices generate transformation in international politics. Further, this study contributes to the field of International Relations and Security Studies by meeting the various requirements that have been identified in previous research: First, it provides a reflexive auto-ethnography of the military context. Second, it provides an ethnographic study of a security community of practice. Third, it augments a methodology for the study of practices. Fourth, contra ‘armchair analysis’, it provides contextual data from the field. Fifth, it identifies an international practice of crisis management capability development, its formation process and the influence it wields on other practices.

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