Defense Entrepreneurship: How to Build Institutions for Innovation Inside the Military

By Hasik, James | Joint Force Quarterly, April 2016 | Go to article overview

Defense Entrepreneurship: How to Build Institutions for Innovation Inside the Military


Hasik, James, Joint Force Quarterly


Fears of slipping dominance are driving an American push for military innovation. But while the accomplishments of American industry are enviable, not all innovation is grounded in technology or flows from the private sector. The U.S. Armed Forces have a considerable history with internally driven innovation, and today a new class of innovators is emerging within the Services. These public entrepreneurs watch for opportunities, make decisions under uncertainty, and then meld the factors of change in sticky (that is, locally commercialized) ways. Their entrepreneurship sometimes falters, as the controlling tendencies and vested interests of the bureaucratic apparatus resist. Defense entrepreneurs must overcome greater barriers than those faced by private entrepreneurs, but policymakers could speed their progress by building the right organizational models in staffing, structures, and incentives.

Understanding the Internal Innovation Imperative

Is the dominance of the U.S. military at risk? A host of democratized tools of destruction are spreading fear that hitherto regional actors and super-empowered individuals will break the American monopoly on some of the grandest instruments of military force. (1) In response, then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in November 2014 launched a formal "Defense Innovation Initiative" aimed at reshaping research and development (R&D) with a "Third Offset Strategy," focused on robotics, miniaturization, and additive manufacturing. (2) In these fields in particular, officials and analysts have been exhorting industry to innovate, "save innovation," and practice "innovation warfare." (3)

But while the largest defense contractors would always like more government funding, they are only now increasing their heretofore scant spending on internal R&D. (4) Unless the defense industry creates "more compelling threats of potential lost business," these firms will be unlikely to boost their own investments. (5) At the same time, large-scale innovation may become more difficult as a result of the increasing accumulation of knowledge, such that each dollar spent on defense does not deliver as much technological advancement as in the past. (6) If this happens, the price of dominance will become prohibitive. The technological gap between the United States and its near-peer competitors will continue to narrow, exposing America's vulnerabilities. (7)

In other ways, however, the rate of recombinant technological change is outpacing the bureaucratic processes of defense planning and acquisition. (8) Firms that do not normally conduct business with defense ministries may be outpacing the record of innovation by traditional contractors in fields such as microsatellites, cyber defense, robotics, and networked communications. (9) These advances then cause their own problems, as offset strategies built on commercial technologies raise relatively fewer barriers to entry to those up-and-coming powers. (10) Where others can access common technologies, creating advantage requires melding people, products, and processes in novel but sticky ways. (11)

Highlighting Examples of Internal Success

Before overhauling the supply base, reaching for unobtainable advantages, and building a new innovation-industrial complex, however, the defense industry should consider leveraging internal resources. Some of the best new ideas have come from within the Armed Forces, and from the relative bottom of the hierarchy. (12) Examples abound, reaching back decades. Consider how the initial impetus for employing assault helicopters in combat came from a group of junior aviators in the Marine Corps in the late 1940s. (13) The still-vaunted Sidewinder heat-seeking missile began as a part-time project by a small team of government engineers at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California. (14) More recently, the initial prototypes of the now ubiquitous Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) were similarly developed at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Defense Entrepreneurship: How to Build Institutions for Innovation Inside the Military
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.