Meanings of military ranks

Jukka Mattila*, Sampo Tukiainen, Sami Kajalo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper studies what kinds of meanings reserve officers ascribe to military ranks. The study builds on existing literature on reserve forces and hypothesizes that military ranks among reserve officers are subject to rendering the ranks with multiple meanings, and which are bound to create ambiguity of interpretation. To elaborate these theoretical insights a survey among Finnish reserve officers was conducted (N = 6193). The data was analyzed using factor analysis and correlation analysis. The results show that military ranks are ascribed, in addition to the functionalistic, hierarchical meaning, also with meanings of prestige, proficiency, and identity. The main theoretical contribution of the paper is in complementing the previous literature on ambiguity of military ranks by specifying four different meanings in the interpretation of the ranks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-378
Number of pages20
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • ambiguity
  • factor analysis
  • hierarchy
  • Military ranks
  • organizational culture


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