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This research group facilitates an evidence-based understanding of the place of industries in Western defence and wider society. It deploys RUSI's authoritative research base to produce independent studies in this area.

Trend analyses indicate that almost half the defence budget of an advanced economy is allocated directly or indirectly by manufacturing and service businesses. A capable defence industrial sector must be recognised as a multi-faceted asset contributing to that elusive concept of political power. It is therefore critical for the policy-maker, industrialist, military commander and informed citizen alike to properly understand the effect industry has on both policy and operations as a constituent component of the military instrument.

This research group aims to inform the policy discourse and political debates relating to future military capabilities, investment choices and policies impacting on businesses supporting defence.

Activities and key research areas

Our work is to systematically, independently and rigorously assess the 'defence industrial ecosystem' and analyse the forces in operation, to glean a deep understanding that frames and informs national, regional and international policy debates. This has been outlined in the research group's founding Whitehall Report 2-11.

We aim to build up a 'defence, industries and society narrative' that will help policy-makers, industrialists and other stakeholders within wider society to make sense of their professional world. The intention, through a mixture of workshops, round tables and conferences and regular publications is to disseminate the emerging body of knowledge as widely as possible.


  • Exploring the complex interdependencies between defence strategy and operational intent, the industrial base and society, and the tensions between global, regional, national and local perspectives - what we conceive as the defence industrial ecosystem
  • Globalisation, partnering and the challenges posed by modernity for notions of a 'national' defence industrial base
  • The roles, purposes, values and beliefs of the 'defence worker'
  • The concept of a defence industrial base and its purposes in a Western state
  • The role of the defence industrial base in the projection and sustainment of modern military capabilities
  • Lessons for the future from military operations since 1990
  • The reconciliation of the Government roles as customer, sponsor and regulator of defence businesses in an era of the multi-national corporation
  • The impact of national and European regulatory frameworks on industrial conduct and policy-making
  • The ethical and legal considerations relevant to the defence industrial effort
  • The place of research and technology expenditures within and without Government on the health of industries serving defence
  • The risks and benefits associated with defence exports from a defence, national governmental and society perspective
  • The risks and benefits associated with the offshore ownership of defence companies
  • The constituent elements of defence industrial capabilities
  • The impact of public and political attitudes to defence expenditures on the health and structure of the defence industry.


Trevor Taylor
Professorial Research Fellow, Defence, Industries and Society

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