Document Type



commercial-of-the-shelf (COTS);defense acquisition;public sector;literature review

Identifier Data


MCB University Press, Emerald Publishing Limited

Publication Source

European Journal of Innovation Management


Purpose -- Militaries of developing nations face increasing budget pressures, high operations tempo, a blitzing pace of technology, and adversaries that often meet or beat government capabilities using commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies. The adoption of COTS products into defense acquisitions has been offered to help meet these challenges by essentially outsourcing new product development and innovation. This research summarizes extant research to develop a framework for managing the innovative and knowledge flows. Design/Methodology/Approach – A literature review of 62 sources was conducted with the objectives of identifying antecedents (barriers and facilitators) and consequences of COTS adoption. Findings – The DoD COTS literature predominantly consists of industry case studies, and there’s a strong need for further academically rigorous study. Extant rigorous research implicates the importance of the role of knowledge management to government innovative thinking that relies heavily on commercial suppliers. Research Limitations/Implications – Extant academically rigorous studies tend to depend on measures derived from work in information systems research, relying on user satisfaction as the outcome. Our findings indicate that user satisfaction has no relationship to COTS success; technically complex governmental purchases may be too distant from users or may have socio-economic goals that supersede user satisfaction. The knowledge acquisition and utilization framework worked well to explain the innovative process in COTS. Practical Implications – Where past research in the commercial context found technological knowledge to outweigh market knowledge in terms of importance, our research found the opposite. Managers either in government or marketing to government should be aware of the importance of market knowledge for defense COTS innovation, especially for commercial companies that work as system integrators. Originality/Value – From the literature emerged a framework of COTS product usage and a scale to measure COTS product appropriateness that should help to guide COTS product adoption decisions and to help manage COTS product implementations ex post.