Challenges and barriers that limit the productivity and competitiveness of UK defence supply chains

by Julia Muravska, Anna Knack, Rebecca Lucas, Ben Williams

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.3 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Like companies in other sectors, some parts of UK defence supply chains suffer from productivity shortfalls that may constrain their performance and competitiveness. This is an issue of widespread concern throughout the defence industry. RAND Europe was commissioned by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to explore a set of policy options for supporting defence supply chains in the UK, and to build the evidence base for a supply chain development pilot programme. As part of the resulting year-long study, the research team identified the main challenges and barriers faced by companies across the tiers of UK defence supply chains, mainly through discussions with a wide range of industry and government stakeholders. Specifically, we found that:

  • SMEs and mid-tier suppliers report difficulties accessing and engaging with both top tier suppliers and the MOD
  • UK defence supply chains find it difficult to attract non-traditional defence suppliers which can limit opportunities for innovation.
  • Defence contracting terms and processes present barriers to supply chain development.
  • UK defence supply chains are constrained by shortages in critical defence industrial skills.
  • Defence appears to be slower than other sectors at taking up innovative processes and advanced manufacturing technologies.
  • UK defence supply chains encounter difficulties in enforcing and monitoring cyber accreditations across all tiers.

These underlying challenges contribute to the productivity shortfalls within defence supply chains that our research has uncovered, and the RAND team developed two pilot concepts that can help address them. The pilots would support other government initiatives and derive synergy through mutual reinforcement.

Research conducted by

This Perspective is derived from a year-long study funded by the UK Ministry of Defence. The study was conducted by RAND Europe.

This publication is part of the RAND Corporation Perspective series. RAND Perspectives present expert insights on timely policy issues. All RAND Perspectives undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

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.