Ahead of Their Time: Temporal Orientation and Organizational Technological Invention


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.

Last updated on 03/24/2019