Drones in Military Warfare: The Moral and Emotional Implications of an Emerging Technology

Madeleine Rauch, Shaz Ansari

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


While there has been increasing interest in the organizational and technological issues related to emerging technologies, the moral challenges triggered by their use has received relatively little attention. In this paper, we study how emerging technologies raise moral challenges for people interacting with them by disrupting the meaning of their work. Specifically, we examine how drones ? an emerging technology in warfare used to remotely attack targets from offsite command centers ? disrupted the nature of work of military personnel and created moral issues. To address the challenges of working with drones and coping with these tensions, we examine 43 personal diaries from current and former military personnel working for the U.S. Air Force’s drone program. Drawing on observations, interviews, private diaries and internal documents, we explain how individuals struggle with emotional ambivalence ? the simultaneous pull of oppositional positive and negative emotions ? in interacting with drones and suffer moral injury but suppress displaying their emotions in a highly regimented military setting. We develop a model that describes the triggers and conditions under which actors experience emotional ambivalence and moral tensions from interacting with a technology that disrupts the meaning of their work, and the strategies they deploy to reconstruct their work as meaningful. We advance theory on the ?humane’ aspect of emergent technologies by illuminating the moral and emotional implications for people interacting with these technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2021
Number of pages38
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventDRUID21 Conference - Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Duration: 18 Oct 202120 Oct 2021
Conference number: 42


ConferenceDRUID21 Conference
LocationCopenhagen Business School
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