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Beyond Business as Usual? Better Buying Power and the Prospects for Change in Defense Acquisition

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Defense acquisition reform is a now decades-long endeavor, and the historical experience begs the question of whether Better Buying Power will succeed where its predecessors have not. In this paper, I argue the prospects for change under Better Buying Power are guardedly optimistic, but that to understand the challenges of institutionalizing, it we need a new perspective. While leadership matters, and the change literature focused on leaders e.g., Kotter, 1996 offers thoughtful prescriptions, leadership is but one factor in a larger organizational milieu. More than just a set of principles leaders tout, change initiatives acquisition reforms included are policies with material implications for an organization s various constituencies. In this way, acquisition reform is more profitably viewed as a policy implementation problem. Based on a case study involving interviews with a dozen subject matter experts and analysis of over 1,000 pages of primary and secondary documents, I identified the problems of implementing Better Buying Power along three dimensions emphasized in policy implementation research policy content, organizational capacity, and managerial craft. I argue these factors are the primary impediments to institutionalizing Better Buying Power, and I suggest ways leaders can address them. Provided they can be surmounted, the prospects for change under Better Buying Power are real and viable.

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  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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