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Defence Skills: A Shift in the Myth

Trevor Taylor, John Louth and Henrik Heidenkamp
Briefing Papers, 20 June 2014
Defence, Industries and Society, Defence Management
Policy-makers assume defence skills are in assured supply. New research suggests this may not be the case

UK policy-makers take comfort, perhaps erroneously, in the narrative that defence-industrial competencies remain alive and available to state decision-makers – essentially frozen into some form of perpetual equilibrium of assured supply.

It is often assumed that skills in a given defence-industrial base somehow self-regulate through the hidden hand of the market. This means that, when one company within the defence ecosystem makes redundancies – for example, to relieve perceived over-capacity – another defence business will absorb these skills.

This briefing explores what happens to the wider economy and to defence competencies when people leave defence businesses – either voluntarily or as part of a deliberate redundancy scheme. The paper also tests the premise that the defence market self-regulates in the maintenance of a country’s defence skills base.

About the Authors

Professor John Louth is a Senior Research Fellow and Director of Defence, Industries and Society at RUSI. He teaches at the University of Roehampton Business School.

Professor Trevor Taylor is a Professorial Research Fellow at RUSI. He teaches at Cranfield University.

Dr Henrik Heidenkamp is a Research Fellow for RUSI’s Defence, Industries and Society Programme (DISP) and a mentor for the RUSI/University of Roehampton Business School PhD Programme.


Trevor Taylor
Professorial Research Fellow, Defence, Industries and Society

Trevor Taylor is Professorial Research Fellow in Defence Management at RUSI, where he heads up a research programme in Defence,... read more

John Louth
Director, Defence, Industries and Society

Professor John Louth is Senior Research Fellow and Director for Defence, Industries and Society at RUSI. 

He served as an officer... read more

Henrik Heidenkamp
Associate Fellow
Henrik is a RUSI Associate Fellow supporting RUSI’s research into the public-private... read more

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