How innovations cease to be new: Routinizing technological innovations within military organizations

Laura Hollænder Schousboe

Research output: ThesisPh.D. thesis

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This thesis examines an empirical and academic puzzle of military innovation: How technological innovations cease to be new. The successful application of emerging technologies depends largely on whether and how the military organization succeeds in integrating the new technology into its organizational practice. This acknowledgement is crucial and forces us to put the implementation of new technology at our center of attention. Research on military innovation has not studied innovation implementation specifically and can thus not currently account for how innovations are incorporated into practice. The thesis sets out to address this shortfall. To investigate this, the thesis introduces the concept of routinization, i.e. the process by which technological innovations are implemented into the organizational practice of the military organization and thus become part of its standard practice. As there is no single theory of routinization, the thesis employs an explorative approach and examines the U.S. Armed Forces’ experience with implementing technological innovations during the First and Second Offset strategies. The thesis finds that implementation is driven by very different factors from innovation initiation and adoption. Contrary to what existing research leads us to expect, routinization is predominantly driven by ‘military matters’, i.e. it is influenced by the military issues and benefits tied to the activity of waging war and employing the weapon in operations. Raising the perspective, the thesis assess routinization to be a highly ‘rational’ process which is also deeply embedded with – even dependent on – the ordinary task of developing the military organization in a long-term perspective and synchronizing the elements of materiel, organization, doctrine and personnel into a holistic and capable fighting force. These findings have implications for research and practice. Not only does the thesis introduce a novel, and neutral, way to assess the outcome of military innovation and present a new direction for innovation research to engage with issues of implementation and routinization. It also provokes an adjustment of our existing understanding of the phenomenon ‘military innovation’, and it exposes difficult dilemmas for current practice and political ambition to create an agile technological innovation milieu.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Southern Denmark
  • Rynning, Sten, Principal supervisor
  • Crosbie, Tom, Co-supervisor, External person
Date of defence10. May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 7. Apr 2022


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