Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation,
Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies

No 130: Embedded Technology - national Identity the rise and decline of a small state’s military-industrial complex

Niklas Stenlås ()
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Niklas Stenlås: Institute for Future Studies

Abstract: The following paper traces the emergence of a Swedish military-industrial complex, through its heydays and to its eventual decline. The notion of a military-industrial complex is heavily based on American research and it is the American politico-industrial system which has been the model for the ‘theory’ of a military-industrial complex. The object of the paper is to identify those factors which distinguishes the Swedish case and which have made possible the growth of an exceptionally strong alliance between military, political and industrial forces around the ideal of a strong defence almost exclusively based on a domestic arms industry. The paper argues that three factors have been particularly important to the emergence of Sweden’s military-industrial complex. First, the Cold War shaped the identity of the Swedes. Sweden was neutral, free from the superpower alliances and this provided a need for neutral technology, visibly free from superpower allegiances. Second, the corporative political culture of Sweden provided possibilities for an interest alliance between government, military, industry and unions around the defence issue. Third, the corporate interest alliance succeeded at an early stage to lift the defence issue over the political agenda. It was up to military and scientific experts to determine the level of the country’s military needs. Not until the 1970’s was the defence issue politicized again.

Keywords: industrial complex; innovation system; economic history

JEL-codes: N00; O25

26 pages, First version: April 28, 2008. Revised: June 9, 2008.

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