This paper focuses on the missing organizational microfoundations of international relations theories, namely by examining temporal orientation, which has been studied in detail at the individual level but almost entirely overlooked at the organizational level. The thesis also contributes to the military innovation literature, and sheds light on aggregation problems in international relations. Following construal-level theory (CLT), I hypothesize that more future-oriented organizations have a greater capacity for technological invention (as it is reflected in patenting trends). This is tested in the context of technological invention by the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force in the 1984–2015 period, using a composite temporal orientation index constructed using dictionary-based automated content analysis of key documents. Further tests and robustness checks are performed using patent and organizational time horizon data from the private sector.
Over the course of the last two decades, international relations and, to a degree, comparative politics as well, have begun taking explicit note of the importance of time, with fully-fledged theories slowly emerging. However, even a brief glance at existing works on this topic reveals that Kenneth Waltz’s "second image," "the internal organization of states," is largely absent from the discussion. This is surprising given the voluminous literature on various aspects of governmental apparatuses, especially on the crucial role of bureaucratic organizations in influencing policy formulation and shaping implementation. Furthermore, the field of management and organization studies has devoted considerable attention to the role of time in organizations, but the findings have gone largely unnoticed in both international relations and political science more generally. These heretofore underutilized works must be interpreted within a broader bureaucratic politics framework to be of use to international relations and security studies.
More specifically, the question is: How do bureaucratic organizations perceive and shape time, and what effect does that have on how they function? The primary goal of this paper is, in other words, to investigate how temporal discounting—which essentially describes the extent to which an actor is future- or present-oriented—operates on an organizational level. The paper also explores to which degree extant observations about perceptions of time and the resulting pathologies apply to a unitary actor model of bureaucratic organizations, and, relatedly, considers the issue of modeling the time horizons of organizations with large internal variation in patterns of temporal discounting.
This paper aims to explain what causes attempts at radical technological innovation in the military sphere to succeed or fail. Using four United States satellite reconnaissance programs as test cases, the paper also clarifies and enriches the associated historical record using recently declassified sources. Three hypotheses are derived from the military innovation and organization theory literatures: (H1) Interorganizational competition causes radical technological innovation; (H2) Radical technological innovation is the product of a permissive and stimulating organizational environment; (H3) Radical technological innovation stems primarily from requirements generated by the civilian leadership in response to external security challenges and forced upon military or intelligence organizations, which makes innovation more likely in the crucial problem areas that manage to capture the civilians’ attention. The analysis shows that a permissive organizational environment (H2) is a necessary condition for and also the most proximate cause of radical technological innovation. Furthermore, although it acted only as an intervening variable in two of the three successful programs, the third – the Navy’s GRAB signals intelligence satellite – shows that in organizations that encourage initiative, have shorter chains of command and are generally more decentralized, it is possible for a wholly internally generated drive to independently produce radical technological innovation.