No Wings Attached? Civil–Military Relations and Agent Intrusion in the Procurement of Fighter Jets
(Source: Sage Publishing; posted June 5, 2020)
This article studies civil–military relations in defence procurement. Applying insights from the principal–agent model, we argue that decision-making about defence procurement is inherently vulnerable to agency problems.

Given the technical nature of these dossiers, governments and parliaments are often heavily dependent upon military expertise, creating leeway for defence administrations to steer decision-making towards their preferences.

By means of a case study of the replacement of the F-16 fighter jets in Belgium, we examine whether and how complex defence procurement dossiers allow for exploitation of expertise through strategic information management from the defence administration to the Minister of Defence.

The former head of Belgium’s fighter procurement program, Lt Col Harold van Pee, refuted the study’s conclusions in a comment on his Twitter account.)


In addition, empirics reveal a to date unexplored phenomenon of agent intrusion. It captures the situation in which an agent takes a prominent formal advisory position within the decision-making apparatus of its political principal, providing additional means to outplay its information advantage over the principal in favour of its own interests.


Click here for the full report (20 PDF pages), on the SAGE Publishing website.


(EDITOR’S NOTE: In other words, the report published by Maastricht University (in the Netherlands) details how the Belgian military manipulated its politicians to obtain its preferred outcome, the procurement of the F-35.)

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