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What Characteristics Do Organizations That Successfully Innovate Possess and Are They Transferrable to the Military

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Technical Report,25 Jun 2018,23 May 2019

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US Army School of Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Innovation has proved to be elusive in military organizations. This paper aims to examine determinants of innovation in successful companies, and whether they are transferrable to a military context. This paper uses a literature review to select four determinants of innovation organizational culture, the effective use of knowledge, experimentation, and acceptance of risk when combined with an absence of constraints. The paper examines the determinants in two case studies in the technology sector, Google and Apple, identifying where the determinants contribute to the continued innovation in each company. Transfer of the lessons from the case studies is problematic in a military context, especially those of organizational culture. Attempts at creating an ecosystem of innovation in the military have proven to be limited in effect. Wholesale change in culture is both difficult and potentially harmful to military effectiveness, but limited change has so far proved ineffective in achieving the scale of change necessary. Evidence suggests that determinants of innovation may be context specific, so further work should examine innovation in a military context that has already overcome the cultural barriers. Further research should examine whether rapid adaptation is actually preferable to innovation for the military.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Administration and Management

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