Transforming strategic cultures in contemporary Europe

Strategic shifts in great power politics and steps in European defence integration have led since the mid-2010s to a notable increase of events and activities aimed at the development of a joint strategic culture. The research project Transforming strategic cultures in contemporary Europe: Towards an understanding of reasons, intermediaries and processes of change (STRAX), analyses change in strategic cultures in Europe by combining in innovative ways academic research, policy-analysis and professional military education and pedagogy.

The Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) conducts the project jointly together with Tampere University (TUNI) and the Finnish National Defence University (NDU). The project is funded by the Academy of Finland and runs from September 2022 until August 2026.

Earlier on, strategic cultures were seen as sticky and research tended to concentrate on one national strategic culture at a time. The change that took place in these cultures was contributed to exceptional events and analysed in terms of competing interests. An important factor has hitherto been missing from the analysis: how strategic cultures relate to one another. This research project takes the focus from national strategic cultures and their change to the overlap between strategic cultures in Europe, analysing the interrelations and mutual influence between them. Focusing on the impact of transnational epistemic communities, the research widens the academic lens to include exchange and evolution stemming from interaction and how these processes contribute to the development of a European strategic culture

The project has three main focus areas:

1) the need for change as a reason for change, such as new hybrid and unconventional threats and the possible formation of a supranational strategic culture in the European Union;

2) the drivers of change, such as professional communities in research, policy-making and education;

3) the venues of interaction between the different strategic cultures, such as practical cooperation, EU processes and military education.

On the level of theory-building, it contributes with a profound take on what strategic culture consists of and how exactly strategic cultures overlap.

On the level of policy analysis, it develops a better understanding of the actors and processes of change in contemporary Europe.

Finally, it also contributes to the production of policy-relevant knowledge on change for policy-makers, as well as to pedagogical evolution in strategy-related education.

Hanna Ojanen, Research Director at Tampere University, acts as the Consortium Director, with Niklas Helwig, Leading Researcher at FIIA, and Tommi Koivula, Professor of Strategy at the NDU, as project partners, each leading an individual sub-project. The research group also includes Katariina Mustasilta (FIIA), Antti Seppo (NDU) and Anton Staffans (TUNI).

This project is funded by the Academy of Finland, funding decision 351253.

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