Tag Archives: reservists

Keeping enough in reserve: what does it mean to be both a soldier and a civilian?

Welcome to the 1st blog from the Keeping Enough in Reserve project. We are a team of researchers based at Newcastle and Bristol Universities, looking at what reservists think about their unique position as both civilians and as military personnel, and how they manage civilian jobs alongside a Reserves commitment. We are particularly interested in:

  • how reservists themselves think about the relationship between their military and civilian roles; and how the two roles fit together;
  • how they think about their identities as personnel and as regular employers, and how they talk about these roles to their colleagues in the workplace; and
  • what employers understand about the Reserves, how they manage reservists who work for them, and what advantages and disadvantages employers might see in the employment of reservists.

We are also interested in more abstract questions about what being in the Reserves might mean for reservists’ rights and responsibilities as citizens. A lot of the existing military research sees the armed forces and civil society operating as two quite distinct entities. We are interested in trying to think beyond this, and we think that reservists, as both civilian employees and as military personnel, will have some insights on this issue which we can learn from.

Our research will focus on the Tyneside and Bristol areas. These are two quite different areas in terms of their labour markets, their economic histories, their historical relationships with the armed forces, and their current patterns of armed forces basing. In looking at Tyneside and the Bristol areas, we will be comparing and contrasting the two to establish whether there are any significant differences in local labour markets which affect Reserves participation.

We want to look at reservists in the British Army, the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and the Royal Naval Reserve. We will be interviewing reservists from all three armed forces in both Tyneside and the Bristol area, using in-depth interviews. We will also be running some focus groups which will include both regulars and reservists, to get a good sense of how both work together. In addition, we will use data from the Tri-Service Continuous Attitude Survey, and other defence statistics, to put what we find from our interviews into a broader context.

We will also do case study research on a selection of employers in both areas to get a sense of the range of issues employers face when employing reservists. Case study research will be useful in getting information about what different employers do in terms of managing their employees’ Reserves commitments, and will also start to add to our knowledge of how important employer sector and size is on their ability to support Reserves participation amongst its workforce.

If you would like to find out more about this project, please contact Rachel Woodward.


What challenges do Army Reservists’ face when mobilised?

Welcome. This is the first blog from the Lancaster University Future Reserves Research team. Our research is looking specifically at how reservists cope with the competing responsibilities of military service, family life and civilian employment. We have recently finished an important phase in our project, of reviewing research that has already been carried out on the interactions between the Army Reserves and Regulars, between reservists and their civilian employment and the interactions reservists have with their family. The majority of studies focusing on the Reserves have been conducted in the US, with other notable research being carried out in Australia, Canada and the UK. There were several reoccurring themes:

  • Being in the Reserves is reported to challenge the work/life balance. The greatest difficulties seem to be when a Reservist is mobilised and this was reported to be the greatest concern for family and civilian employers.
  • Challenges at the time of mobilisation. Although mobilisation could lead to positive personal outcomes such as the ability to remain calm in a stressful situation and resulting levels of confidence, Reservists also reported being concerned about not being able to address family or civilian work issues. Mobilisation meant family and work colleagues were required to cover roles and initial difficulties were reported to ease over time. Spouses reported family and military support, social networks and regular communication with the mobilised partner as key factors in dealing with practical and emotional stressors such as childcare and concern for the Reservists safety.
  • Reintegration was also reported as a challenge for Reservists, their families and civilian employment.

Our Lancaster team are interested in your experiences of being a British Army Reservist, including the positive and negative interactions between your army employment, civilian employment and your home life. In particular, we want to:

  • understand your reasons for joining the Reserves;
  • identify any barriers to becoming and remaining a reservist you might have experienced; and
  • identify potential resources that may help to minimise potential conflicts and enhance your positive experiences of enrichment across roles.

Our next blog will update you on our own research so far,
Matthew Hall and the Lancaster University Research Team

Ministry of Defence (2011). Future Reserves 2020. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/28394/futurereserves_2020.pdf


How do you research the lives of reservists?

The Future Reserves Research Programme includes 4 research projects, and while reservists are the focus of all of the projects, each of the 4 research teams are interested in different issues and looking at slightly different aspects of reservists’ lives. Some of the main research issues include:

  • how reservists view their own identity, as MOD personnel, family members and as civilians,
  • how they manage their very different and potentially conflicting roles,
  • how reservists and their families balance their work / leisure / family responsibilities,
  • how reservists manage their commitment to their reservist role, and how families, the armed forces and employers can support this,
  • how the policies and procedures within the MOD and civilian employers help support reservists in their different roles,
  • how reservists are recruited, and
  • what the citizen rights and responsibilities are for reservist personnel.

Researchers will use a range of different techniques and methods to help them answer these questions. All 4 projects will spend a lot of time interviewing people on the own and in groups, watching what goes on and thinking about the different views people have and the different issues they face. This will include interviews with reservists, their families, MOD staff and civilian employers so researchers can get a better idea of the different demands on reservist lives. Interviews will also be held with some regular personnel. Interviewing both reservists and regulars will help us understand people’s own experiences, as well as how some of these experiences may be the same, or different, for different groups of personnel. The projects have got permission to carry out interviews with specific battalions from the MOD Research Ethics Committee. This committee regulates all research with Armed Forces personnel to make sure the research is of an international ethical standard which includes making sure people interviewed are not identified in person, and that what they say is treated in confidence.

There will be an online survey next year, which will ask reservists and their family’s particular questions about how they manage the changing roles between family life, having a civilian job, being a reservist, to then being deployed. Another project will use detailed case studies or employers experiences’ of reservist employment and participation to understand how MOD service impacts on civilian jobs. Another group of researchers will work with the same battalions for 3 years, so that see all of the different experiences and get a really good sense of what it is like to be a reservist.

The projects will also review research, policy documents, MOD commentaries and media reports which have already been done on reservists’ role within the military. This helps us understand issues that have already been raised, how these issues may have changed, and what is still the same. Reading existing research and literature helps the researchers to understand the wider context of MOD reservist service and how that can also be used to make decisions about to plan for the future.

This type of research does not come up with rules that are ‘true’ in all cases, but instead gives detailed information to help increase understanding of people’s lives. Researchers work in teams following agreed methods, so their work is high-quality, reliable and the results are validated.

Our blogs over the next few months will look at each of the 4 projects, to see what they are doing and learn more about why they are interested in the lives of reservists.

Kirsten Thomlinson and Zoe Morrison
FRRP Integration Team

Email us at: info@future-reserves-research.ac.uk.

Researching reservists’ lives

Today is a good day for me as this is not only my first blog for the Future Reserves Research Programme, it is also my first blog ever! So here I go, dipping my toe into the blogosphere.

Future Reserves is a new programme of work that aims to research life in the UK military reserves. UK Armed Forces have been undergoing significant changes that will continue over the next 5 years, so that by 2020 reservists will make up at least 1-in-4 of the UK Armed Forces military personnel. These changes will bring new ways of working, as the ‘whole force’ concept will need a variety of military and civilian personnel to work together effectively in defence of the UK’s national interests.

The introduction of the ‘whole force’ concept affects many aspects of military life. This research programme is particularly interested in the experiences of reservists. Being in the military on a part-time basis places different demands on individuals, their families and their civilian employers and work colleagues. Military leaders and policy makers need to understand what these demands are, and how they can best support this diverse group of service men and women.

The Ministry of Defence, the British Army and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have funded researchers from universities across the UK to carry out 4 separate, but linked, research projects.

As well as researchers, we also have a team of people who are working with the MOD, policy makers and employers to make sure that the results of the research make a difference and are used when decisions are made. Now that we are up and running we will give regular updates and information. If you would like to know more, share your views, or would like us to get involved in your work, please get in touch – we’d like to hear from you!

Zoe Morrison
FRRP Integration team

Email us: info@future-reserves-research.ac.uk.

What is the future of reservists in the Armed Forces?

The ESRC is pleased to announce that £1.35 million has been awarded to four universities to undertake innovative research projects to help inform some of the pressing issues facing the armed forces in the process of integrating regular and reserve components into a ‘Whole Force’ structure.

1 August 2014

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is pleased to announce that £1.35 million has been awarded to four universities – Edinburgh, Exeter, Lancaster and Newcastle – to undertake innovative research projects to help inform some of the pressing issues facing the armed forces in the process of integrating regular and reserve components into a ‘Whole Force’ structure.

The research is being undertaken in collaboration with the British Army and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and will help to identify, explain and understand the cultural, social and economic issues that impact on both regular and reserve personnel and to identify additional external factors which may have an influence on the successful integration.

Professor Paul Boyle, Chief Executive of the ESRC, welcomed the new investments, saying: “These innovative research projects will address a variety of important issues critical for the success of future reservists in the armed forces. Many of the issues are not unique to the military and have wider implications across society for families where one member is absent for long periods due to professional duties.”

Major General Kevin Abraham, Director General of Army Reform, which commissioned the work said: “This partnered research project is an important piece of work that will contribute towards the shaping of decisions and policy affecting the Reserves for years to come.”

The four successful investments are:

  • Keeping enough in reserve: the employment of hybrid citizen-soldiers and the future reserves 2020 programme
    Based at Newcastle University, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, led by Professor Rachel Woodward
    The research will focus on the consequences of the reservist policy for the relationship between the armed forces and their host society; what it means to be both a soldier and a civilian in citizenship and identity terms; how employers both view and respond to the Future Reserves 2020 programme; and ultimately, the likelihood that such a transformation will succeed.
  • Negotiating civilian and military lives: reserves, family and work
    Based at the University of Edinburgh, led by Professor Sarah Cunningham-Burley
    The research will involve a multi-methods study of the experiences of reserves, their families, their civilian employers and work colleagues, to better understand how part-time military service impacts upon families and relationships over time and how the intersecting domains of military service, families and civilian work are negotiated. The insights gained from detailed analysis of everyday experience will enrich and inform policy and practice by identifying what constitutes successful integration and appropriate support.
  • Sustaining future reserves 2020: assessing organizational commitment in the reserves
    Based at University of Exeter, led by Dr Sergio Catignani
    This project will consider factors that shape and influence the commitment of volunteer reservists to serving in the British Army Volunteer Reserves and what issues might motivate them to continue serving or restrict them from doing so. It pays particular attention to the influence of family life and the pressures of civilian employment on the decisions that reservists make about their commitment to serving and intentions to remain in the Reserves, because the Army is becoming increasingly reliant on reservists at a time when changes to employment patterns and family life may also be placing greater pressure on reservists.
  • The role of army reservists: an analysis of their experiences and the attitudes and perceptions of civilian employers, regulars and significant others
    Based at Lancaster University, led by Dr Sabir Giga
    This study aims to explore the experiences of British Army reservists. It includes an analysis of their positive and negative interactions in regard to army employment, civilian employment and home lives, as well as the attitudes and perceptions of their civilian employers, regulars and significant others. This study will engage with reservists as well as their families, employers and regular service colleagues in order to explore the issues critical for their successful recruitment and deployment.

In addition to the four projects above, a Research Integrator team within the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships based at the University of Edinburgh has been appointed to enhance the potential economic and societal impact of the initiative, engage in knowledge exchange activities and build synergies across the programme. This team will be led by Zoe Morrison of the University of Aberdeen.

The research projects will also have a wider remit, as some of the issues to be addressed are not unique to the Armed Forces it is hoped that the outcomes will help address similar circumstances outside of the military, for example understanding the implications for families where one member may be absent for a long period of time due to professional duties.

The projects will start from September 2014 and the research will be conducted over the next three years.

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For further information contact:

Notes for editors

  1. A total budget of £1.35 million has been made available over three years.
  2. All applications underwent an independent assessment process of peer review led by the ESRC before being awarded their grants.
  3. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funds research into the big social and economic questions facing us today. We also develop and train the UK’s future social scientists. Our research informs public policies and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. Most importantly, it makes a real difference to all our lives. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government.
  4. Established in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities and regularly ranks among the top 50 universities in the world.  The Centre for Research on Families and Relationships was established in 2001 as a consortium research centre based at the University of Edinburgh, with partners at the Universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Highlands & Islands and Stirling.
  5. The University of Exeter is a Russell Group university and in the top one percent of institutions globally. It combines world-class research with very high levels of student satisfaction. Exeter has over 18,000 students and is ranked eighth in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide league table, tenth in The Complete University Guide and twelfth in the Guardian University Guide 2014. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 90 per cent of the University’s research was rated as being at internationally recognised levels and 16 of its 31 subjects are ranked in the top 10, with 27 subjects ranked in the top 20. Exeter was The Sunday Times University of the Year 2012-13. The University has invested strategically to deliver more than £350 million worth of new facilities across its campuses in the last few years; including landmark new student services centres – the Forum in Exeter and The Exchange on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall, together with world-class new facilities for Biosciences, the Business School and the Environment and Sustainability Institute. There are plans for another £330 million of investment between now and 2016.
  6. Lancaster University is ranked among the top 15 universities in the UK and the top 150 in the world. It is the highest ranked University in the North West of England in the Guardian, Times/Sunday Times and Complete University Guide. It is also top for employability and student satisfaction in its region. More than 90 per cent of Lancaster’s research is judged to be internationally excellent and we have many subject areas which are ranked amongst the best in national and international league tables. The University has a strong focus on working with business and has helped create more than 4,000 new jobs.
  7. Newcastle University is a Russell Group University. We rank in the top 20 of UK universities in The Sunday Times 2013 University Guide and in the 2015 Complete University Guide. Amongst our peers Newcastle is: fifth in the UK for graduates into jobs (HESA 2011-12), tenth in the UK for student satisfaction, Ranked eighth in the UK for Medical research power, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) top 20 strategic partner, 95 per cent of our students are in a job or further training within six months of graduating. We have a world-class reputation for research excellence and are spearheading three major societal challenges that have a significant impact on global society. These themes are: Ageing, Sustainability, and Social Renewal. Newcastle University is the first UK university to establish a fully owned international branch campus for medicine at its NUMed Campus in Malaysia which opened in 2011. We get a 92 per cent satisfaction rating from our international students (ISB 2013).