Vol 4 No 1 (2013)

Finding the Critical Moment within the Tactical Space: Kukan (slack), Feudal Organizing & the IOI

Sherrie Silman
Athabasca University
Zeugen by Morgan Rauscher
Published May 22, 2013


Non-hierarchal organizing has been touted as a save-all for modern day organizations, but gatekeeping can be more problematic than hierarchy itself. Practices of gatekeepers create and perpetuate systemic exclusion while maintaining the illusion that such exclusions do not generate from organizational policies. In the combat analysis sector, normalized gender biases serve to exclude women from becoming trusted experts. This article examines an international combat analysis organization, Interactional Objectives Investigations (IOI), and its normalized policies of advancement to reveal how these practices operate to systemically exclude marginalized social actors. Because the modern organizing of IOI systems stems from feudal principles of shogun/daimyo/vassal in which specific criteria (gender, class, fealty) must be met for advancement, advancement criteria often forms a type of “glass ceiling” for women, single-parents and non-heterosexuals. Organizational (systemic) exclusion within IOI is perpetuated by ideological assumptions about the naturalness of existing policies and by the eagerness of participants to advance by ascribing to IOI’s exclusionary traditions. “Lack of success” within IOI is presumed to be a fault only of individuals and not of the system itself or of the practices of its members, encouraging worker ignorance of systemic exclusion. Kukan as a tactical principle is understood within IOI systems as the “slack” or “empty space” wherein the next interactions of business might occur. Kukan can also be understood as the spaces and moments where assumptions regarding common practices are perpetuated, thereby indicating a site where discriminatory organizing may be challenged.