Innovating Innovation in the U.S. Department of Defense Looking to Large Corporations for Inspiration

Published in: Journal of Management Policy and Practice, Volume 22, No. 4 (2021). doi: 10.33423/jmpp.v22i4.4840

Posted on RAND.org on April 20, 2022

by John Birkler, Paul Bracken, Gordon T. Lee

Read More

Access further information on this document at Journal of Management Policy and Practice

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

In recent years U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) leaders have become increasingly interested in identifying ways to create a culture, policies, and processes throughout the department that yield more innovation than today's environment produces. Many definitions of innovation that the policy community has used, however, have not been clear or intellectually rigorous. Common belief holds that "the bureaucracy" will take charge of the innovation process, with DoD organizing around what are effectively technologies, rather than missions or defeating the enemy. But this paper argues that this approach could hamper U.S. technological performance. The authors propose an alternative innovation framework, one that is policy-oriented, that draws from contemporary commercial practices, and that helps policymakers determine where and when to invest in innovations. In addition, the authors argue that the challenges facing the DoD are closer to those of large companies than to those faced by agile small startups. They conclude by proposing that it is to the DoD examine ways that large companies incorporate AI, IoT and analytics to obtain practical lessons.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.