The JSF program provides a natural experiment for such an investigation. It
represents an acquisition program where a fighter jet is being developed, for the first time, to meet the needs of multiple US military services - the US Air Force, the US Marine Corps, and the US Navy - as well as those of several international partners. This is radically different from the typical acquisition program in the past where a given military service is the sole customer. Thus, the JSF program provides an excellent window into developing an understanding of how the emerging and often conflicting needs of multiple customers have been or can be managed in an environment where different customers expect more and more capabilities to suit their own needs, where their requirements may change in quite different ways, and where they all expect greater affordability. How the
two competing contractor teams have responded to cope with these conflicting customer demands and how they have configured their capabilities as embodied in the design solutions they proposed - particularly in view of the sheer size and complexity of such a program - would offer useful insights and lessons for other enterprises.
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This research examines the development and management of dynamic organizational capabilities. These capabilities include, among other things, how enterprises generate and integrate knowledge, understand and respond to customer needs, manage technological interdependencies, create interorganizational alliance networks, and solve complex technical problems as they design and build complex engineering systems. Enterprises
must meet emerging customer needs by combining, integrating and deploying their organizational capabilities. The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, which represents the largest defense acquisition program in history, provides an excellent natural experiment for an exploration of the link between the technological solutions offered to meet the emerging customer needs and dynamic organizational capabilities. This research focuses on the early Concept Demonstration Phase (CDP) of the JSF program, when the two competing teams led by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, respectively, offered their best possible technological solutions in response to a common set of customer requirements.
This research examines these competing technological solutions in some detail in order to gain some new insights into the set of organizational capabilities the two competitor teams pulled together in order to win the big JSF contract. An expected contribution of this research, by focusing on the JSF program, is to provide significantly greater "real world" depth to the extant discussion on dynamic organizational capabilities in the context of developing such an extremely complex and technologically advanced engineering system.