My research seeks to examine whether the British army used knowledge as a force multiplier through the identification and examination of formal and informal processes for knowledge sharing between the various expeditionary forces in the First World War. Some of these methods include military publications, training schools, inter-theatre command appointments and homosocial networking. My research draws on the basic concepts and principles of organisational learning and knowledge transfer theory to facilitate this analysis.
Over the last twenty years, First World War scholarship has been driven by the broad concept of the ‘learning curve’ theory. Despite recent re-evaluations of other operational theatres and attempts to position them within the broader experience of the British army, the learning process still remains focused on the Western Front. Manpower and materiel constraints aside, there has been limited research into the relationships between theatres and even less around how knowledge and experience were exchanged between them. My research will address this gap by assessing how operational theatres shared best practice and, ultimately, whether they were successful in doing so. By considering these relationships, my research seeks to show how the British army developed a cross-theatre ‘learning network’ to increase its competitive advantage, thus enhancing its ability to cope with the changing nature of modern warfare.