Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Defense Technology Development: Does Every Country Need an Organization like DARPA?

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Defense Technology Development: Does Every Country Need an Organization like DARPA?

Article excerpt

War is a reality, and it brings death, destruction, and human suffering. While globalization is moving at a fast pace and bringing countries closer economically and politically, there is also a constant struggle to develop defense capabilities to cope with conflicts and to fight wars. Therefore, it is necessary to foresee future struggles and acquire adequate capabilities to ensure national security. Developing defense capabilities requires obtaining advanced defense systems and training personnel to use them. Some countries develop their own defense industry while some purchase their weapons and equipment from others. Although forming alliances and relying on other countries for security can mitigate threats, it is important to develop indigenous technologies in order to prevent overdependence on other states. Countries need to invest in the development of advanced technologies in order to be ready to fight the next war. The United States established Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in 1958 to achieve this purpose. DARPA has served the US by producing advanced technology than not only developed US defense effectiveness, but also aided the country's economy. Although it requires a considerable budget, countries can benefit from establishing and maintaining an organization like DARPA as it will help them in the long run by making them ready to fight the next war and by creating advanced technology that can serve the whole nation and the world.

What is DARPA?

DARPA is a unique agency of science and technology, whose mission is to prevent technological surprise from adversely affecting the United States while creating surprises for US adversaries. In order to carry out this mission, DARPA tries to create technologies of the future that will increase the defense capabilities of the US and its allies. Larry Dubois, who is a former manager of DARPA's Defense Sciences Office, said: 'If you've got an idea that will revolutionize the world and doesn't violate too many of the laws of physics, we're listening' (Malakoff, 1999), which shows DARPA's vision about technological development. DARPA is divided into six technology offices that approve and oversee myriad projects, which are run by program managers. The program managers, who are experts in their field, are the driving force for the innovations because they generate and put forward new ideas that can have a revolutionary impact on technology. Innovation in DARPA is a bottom-up process because program managers are not constrained or guided into a direction in their quest. They venture into various industries, universities, labs, and companies to seek new and far-fetched ideas that they can turn into reality. When the program managers get their project approved, DARPA's technical management team provides resources and organizes cooperation across various institutions. Many projects fail to achieve the intended results, but the ones that succeed usually create ground-breaking improvements in technology (Driving Technological Surprise: DARPA's Mission in a Changing World's, 2013).

In his influential article 'Management's new paradigms', Peter Drucker tries to describe the need to have different layers of organizations in order to adapt to social and technological advancements. Drucker states, 'It should have become clear that there is no such thing as the one right organization. There are only organizations, each of which has distinct strengths, distinct limitations and specific applications' (Drucker, 1998). According to Drucker, the 'one-size-fits-all' idea for organizations will not bring success, and there needs to be different organizations or different management styles for different tasks. It is possible to apply this idea to the US Department of Defense's (DOD's) organizational development approach. Drawing lessons from Drucker 's argument, the DOD's technology management consists of three different types. The first type is the continuous progress, which consists of daily training and experimentation of the DOD personnel. …

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