The French defence industry in the knowledge management era: A historical overview and evidence from empirical data
In the defence industry the recent development of a 'market for technology', the creation of new European high-technology companies as well as transformations in government agencies have driven firms to reposition their technological and organizational skills. Our objective is to show that the transformations that have occurred in the past 10 years have not only redefined skills and the organization of production, but also have given a more strategic place to knowledge management (KM) practices. We provide a contextual and historical overview based on qualitative interviews, in order to better understand the relation between KM and innovative behaviour in this industry. We build an original industrial and technological database comprising various samples that provides quantitative information concerning KM and innovative practices. The results of the statistical analysis reveal the specificity of firms in this industry. Taking account of the size of these firms and their technological intensity, we show that the behaviour of defence industry firms in terms of KM practices, differs from that of other firms. This is evident from their technological performance, and innovation and patenting intensity. This structural tendency is explained as an innovative behaviour in the French national innovation system rather than merely a 'trend'.
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