Canadian Armed Forces: What it Takes to be a First Mover
The Royal Military College of Canada
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is one of Canada’s largest employers consisting of 65,000 regular force members and 15,000 reserve force members. During World War I, specifically at Vimy Ridge, the Canadian military proved that they are more than an emerging military by capturing the difficult position on April 12, 1917. Today, the CAF is a globally recognized military involved in peacekeeping and combat missions all over the world. But the transformation from 1917 to 2014 did not just happen over night; Alfred Chandler, the “father of business history” as well as a former business professor at the University of Harvard, argued for a firm to grow and experience success they must be a first mover. According to Chandler a first mover not only reinvests time and money into research and development, but also marketing and management. The CAF was only able to transform into a global military power because they were able to adapt, and I am arguing that they were able to adapt and grow into the military they are today because they followed Chandler’s first mover strategy by investing in all three components.
The CAF is able to continue operations across the world safely and effectively because of the research and development that enables its soldiers, sailors and airman to be prepared no mater where they go. The Department of National Defence operates eight Defence Research and Development centers across Canada (DRDC), each specializing in different aspects such as equipment, training and even the psychology of recruiting. The CAF’s current Chief of Defence Staff, General Tom Lawson notes in his article about Defence Strategy: “To achieve success, Canada’s military and security organizations must maintain a technological and knowledge advantage, built on investments in Science and Technology (S&T) that respond aggressively to the priorities of National Defence and its safety and security partners. Over the past decade, as a key member of the S&T innovation system, DRDC has worked hard to meet the wide-ranging needs of its DND and CAF clients, and has been recognized for life-saving, ground-breaking contributions to operations, planning and policy initiatives.” Furthermore, Gary Martinic, a manager at two research centers in Australia writes about the ongoing research that Canada has been involved in within the field of unmanned robotic devices such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), robotic ground platforms (RGPs), unmanned surface vessels (USVs), and unmanned underwater vessels (UUVs), as well as unmanned weapons and surveillance systems (UWS). The future of these robots would hopefully decrease the risk of sending human soldiers into very high-risk scenarios proving to be a very important asset to the CAF. Overall the CAF is very intensely invested into the future of the equipment and strategy, if not they would be in massive trouble. Chandler further notes in his article “The Enduring Logic of Industrial Success”, that once a firm begins to loose there opportunity to be a first mover it becomes increasingly more and more difficult to regain the competitive advantage that they once had. This is why the CAF is continuously looking forward into the future and researching. Referring to Charles Handy’s Sigmoid Curve (see appendix A), the CAF is always thinking about “what’s next” at point A and given the resources and ability they invest into research that allows for growth and success rather than being too late at point B. Overall, research and development is an important factor for the CAF to be a first mover; because they are very successful at researching, innovating and looking into the future, they definitely prove to be following the first mover strategy.
Moreover, the CAF invests strongly into recruiting in the form of marketing. Although the CAF may not be a money making firm like Procter and Gamble or Coke, marketing is essential for the CAF; according to Lee Berthiaume, author of an article about the CAF recruits, reveals that approximately four thousands new recruits a year are required to maintain the 65,000 regular member force. The CAF has come along way since the conscription crisis of Great World Wars. Not only does modern Canada not impose conscription but also getting a job for the CAF is becoming more and more difficult as the work place is increasingly made up of more immigrants. The CAF is very appealing to many unemployed people in Canada because of the many hygiene and motivating factors that are provided. In Fredrick Herzberg’s motivation theory, hygiene factors negatively affect job satisfaction while motivating factors positively affect work place satisfaction. The Canadian Forces offers two different options Officers or Non-Commissioned Members. The motivating factors that the CAF offers are an achievement-based career that offers growth in rank either from privates to warrant officers or lieutenants to generals. Furthermore the hygiene factors that usually scare away employees is the salary; according to the CAF pay scales the average salary of a new member is $52,000 a year which is more than the Canadian average of $48,000. So by the CAF offering such competitive career benefits as well as media advertisements online as well as on TV, the CAF markets to the Canadian population about the career path of being in the military. Due to the CAF not marketing a product or service it seems to be a different than other first mover companies, but because of the CAF treats its employees within work place coupled with job satisfaction the CAF is indirectly investing right into marketing, proving that they are following Chandlers strategy and investing time and money into marketing.
 Chandler (1990)
 Herzberg (2003)