Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Alfred E. Thal, Jr., PhD


Although innovation is widely discussed in both military and industry venues, many organizations continue to struggle with what it means to be creative as well as maintain a competitive advantage. The United States Air Force has specifically struggled with the balance between improving existing technologies and employing revolutionary technologies. The purpose of this thesis was to study the motivation, focus, barriers, and culture needed to foster disruptive innovation in Air Force Science and Technology (S&T) and to investigate how industry innovation strategies could improve breakthrough Air Force technology emergence. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the primary organization responsible for planning and executing all aspects of the Air Force science and technology program, is the ideal study subject to represent the Air Force S&T community at large. Two previous industry research studies, now replicated in an AFRL organizational environment, provided quantitative and qualitative comparisons between the industry and Air Force S&T communities. The study results showed that Air Force S&T is capable of regaining its prominence as a leader in disruptive technological innovation by applying a basic improvement model, capturing the relevant best practices of industry, and exploiting the positive attributes of the military domain.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number