Research Articles

Military Innovation as the Result of Mental Models of Technology



Heightened political tensions and advances in technological development have prompted Scandinavian countries to increase investment in military research and capability development. The aim of this study is to gain a better understanding of why actors sharing similar strategic cultures implement new technology for military purposes differently. The research is founded on a cognitive-psychological perspective comparing two cases of innovation processes: Swedish nuclear weapons development during the Cold War and developments in Swedish cyber defence during the first decades of the 21st century. The main finding is that military innovation is better explained through a consideration of shared mental models of new technology than it is through a consideration of strategic cultures. The analysis shows there are implications for capability development. First, military innovation processes are only initiated if and when new technology appears militarily relevant to an actor; thus, the ability to correctly assess the military relevance of technology at an early stage is crucial. Second, the forming of shared mental models can both contribute to and counteract military innovation and, thus, decision-makers need to be aware both that mental models can be shared and that confirmation bias affects actors on a collective level. Third, it is likely that military innovation processes benefit from mental models being challenged and from diverging mental models being made evident. Consequently, it is good practice, also from this study’s perspective, to diversify and welcome different views on the use of new technology. Further studies are solicited in order to develop practical guidelines.


Military innovationtechnology forecastmilitary utilitymental modelconfirmation biasstrategic culture
  • Year: 2022
  • Volume: 5 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 45–62
  • DOI: 10.31374/sjms.117
  • Submitted on 27 Sep 2021
  • Accepted on 31 Jan 2022
  • Published on 14 Apr 2022
  • Peer Reviewed