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Military Innovation

Cutting the Gordian Knot

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Military Innovation

Cutting the Gordian Knot

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Samenvatting

Which frame of reference can scholars best use for the study of military innovation? This seeming straightforward question is difficult to answer. The last four decades show an impressive accumulation of publications that address the topic of military innovation. Many scholars investigated manifestations of military innovation, explaining its progress and outcome, thereby validating hypotheses about the potential factors driving military innovation. A discourse unfolded, which showed development of several models of military innovation.1 However, close examination of the discourse reveals that it addresses fundamental questions about a frame of reference only implicitly. These include the questions of the function of the field of research, the definition of the subject matter, and of identification of independent variables, intervening variables and the dependent variables. Formulated differently, the accumulated body of knowledge in the field of military innovation is not clear on the following four basic questions: Why study military innovation? What is meant by “military innovation”? How does military innovation manifest itself? And what are driving factors of military innovation? As the accumulated body of knowledge is not clear on answers to the basic questions, the foundation of frames of reference became unstable. It offered scholars the opportunity to answer the questions differently. As will be shown below, they do. The result is a sub-surfaced yet convoluted lack of consensus on key issues relating to military innovation. Consequently, knowledge and understanding of how military organizations innovate is unclear and incomplete. More importantly, military innovation studies lack a conceptual framework that is agreed upon, which hampers scholars to study military innovation thoroughly and consistently.
The discourse on military innovation shows consensus on multiple topics as well. In addition, some of the problematic issues can be addressed functionally just by making choices explicit. Disagreements might be solved relatively straightforward. Agreement on development of a frame of reference is possible. However, it requires detailed analysis of the discourse, and making informed choices that are clearly communicated. In other words, it is required that the Gordian knot of implicit research choices and convoluted arguments is cut. This research paper attempts to satisfy this requirement by answering the following question: which frame of reference is suitable for studying military innovation? It does so by a layered analysis of the discourse on military innovation using the following subquestions: How did scholars formulate a frame of reference for the study of military innovation? On which topics did they agree? Is that agreement deserved? What was the nature of the disagreements? What could be a solution?

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Trefwoorden
OrganisatieNederlandse Defensie Academie
OpleidingFaculteit Militaire Wetenschappen
AfdelingKrijgswetenschappen
Jaar2018
TypeRapport
ISBN978-90-8892-081-3
TaalEngels

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