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Transforming strategic cultures in contemporary Europe STRAX

Tampere University
Duration of project1.9.2022–31.12.2026
Area of focusSociety

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 study of strategic culture needs to be brought in with new vigour and in a new shape, too.

Transforming strategic cultures in contemporary Europe: Towards an understanding of reasons, intermediaries and processes of change (STRAX) is a research project with a novel take on analysing change in strategic cultures.

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.

Three specific focuses are:

  1. First, 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. Second, the drivers of change, that is, the professional communities working on or for change, in research, policy-making and education.
  3. Third, the venues in which this interaction takes place: practical cooperation, such as in crisis management operations where different cultures meet, processes in the EU such as the Strategic Compass, and curriculum development in military education.

Case studies on each of these shed light on interaction in practice. This innovative combination enables this project to have impact on three different levels:

  • 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.

Project group

Hanna Ojanen, project leader
Niklas Helwig, The Finnish Institute of International Affairs
Tommi Koivula, Finnish National Defence University
Katariina Mustasilta, Finnish Institute of International Affairs
Antti Seppo, Finnish National Defence University                                                               Anton Staffans, Tampere university

STRAX is now live!

The project kicked off with a workshop gathering the Advisory Board and other external experts on 20-21 March in Helsinki, including a public seminar at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs on the 22th. You can find the recording of the seminar in the link below:

A European Zeitenwende? Russia's war of aggression and evolving Strategic Cultures in Europe

STRAX release: Four Points about Strategic Culture (in Finnish)

STRAX Podcast episode: Sotataidon ytimessä - Strateginen kulttuuri ja sen tutkimus (in Finnish)

STRAX kickoff meeting, March 2023, Helsinki


Research Council of Finland


Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Finnish National Defence University