Strategic collaboration in the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency – what is needed to succeed?

FFI-Report 2024
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Anders Aulie Olgar Breivik Pedersen
Strategic collaboration has gained significant attention during the recent Long-Term Defence Plans. The current Long-Term Defence Plan states that the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) should intensify its efforts in strategic collaboration with the defence industry, international partners, other government agencies, and civilian private businesses. According to Meld. St. 17 (2020–2021), strategic collaboration with external actors should help the NDMA utilise its available resources better and with greater flexibility and facilitate rapid implementation of new technological opportunities. By collaborating with external actors, the NDMA could better leverage its resources and expertise, allowing it to focus on its core tasks. Despite the significant benefits of strategic collaboration, both researchers and practitioners point out that successful collaborations are challenging to achieve. The NDMA has tasked the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) with assessing whether it is set to carry out successful strategic collaborations. In this report, we have developed a method to assess this based on findings from literature and input from stakeholders in the NDMA. To establish a method for evaluation, we first developed a typology for strategic collaboration. We classify external relationships as horizontal relationships (buyer-buyer relationships) and vertical relationships (buyer-supplier relationships). Furthermore, we classify relationships on a spectrum ranging from transactional to collaborative relationships based on five characteristics: time horizon, interaction frequency, scope, product and market characteristics, and strategic importance. Finally, we present two definitions: one for horizontal and one for vertical strategic collaborations. The main part of our report is a framework for evaluating strategic collaboration. The framework defines the three properties crucial for successful strategic collaborations: trust, coordination, and interdependence. We have identified 12 conditions tied to attaining these properties. In an evaluation of strategic collaboration, these 12 conditions, and how fulfilling these conditions could lead to successful strategic collaborations, should be examined. In our report, we present four recommendations. Firstly, we recommend that the NDMA should make use of the evaluation framework to change and adapt its organisation in order to make use of strategic collaborations. Secondly, we recommend that the NDMA reach a consensus on terminology and communicate a common understanding of the term ‘strategic collaboration’ throughout its organisation. Thirdly, we recommend that the NDMA build institutional competence in strategic collaboration based on learning and experiences from previous or ongoing strategic collaborations. Finally, we recommend that the evaluation framework is applied in a case study of a strategic collaboration in the NDMA, allowing us to gain insights and provide recommendations for concrete measures to improve the NDMA’s setup for strategic collaborations.

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