1989 volume 7(1) pages 27 – 38

Cite as:
Ettlinger N, Crump J R, 1989, "The military industrial firm, economic control, and local development" Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 7(1) 27 – 38

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The military industrial firm, economic control, and local development

N Ettlinger, J R Crump

Received 1 September 1987

Abstract. Most US military technology is produced by military industrial firms (MIFs). The federal government substantially funds these firms, and provides the principal MIFs with a steady flow of profitable contracts. Unlike civilian-oriented firms, MIFs virtually have guaranteed profits, and need not emphasize cost minimization as a survival strategy. Instead, MIF management strategy focuses on information gathering, lobbying efforts, and marshalling the MIF labor force in order to influence the contract awards process. The operation of MIFs depends upon a set of alliances within defense-dependent communities and among local leaders, MIF management, Congress, and the Pentagon. These relationships empower MIF management, ensure MIF longevity, and provide a community with employment and an economic base. Endogenous control, a commonly cited ingredient of local or regional development, may be achieved in defense-dependent communities, despite external funding. The power and control exercised by MIFs may not, however, represent a sufficient condition for 'development', given problems of inefficiency that tend to characterize these specialized firms.

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