Issue date: 21 June 2004

ISSUE DATE: 21/06/04

Room 3C01, Frenchay Campus, Thursday 24 June 2004 at 6.00pm

Dr Michael Brzoska will speak at the second UWE Annual Lecture on Economics and Security which is hosted by the Defence Economics Research Unit (DERU) on Thursday 24 June at UWE’s Frenchay Campus. His lecture is entitled How rational are decision in defence?

Dr Derek Braddon, Research Director of DERU, said, “This lecture is a timely opportunity to look at an issue that has great relevance for government and private industry alike. The challenge of allocating efficiently a limited defence budget in a rapidly changing world order and in the shadow of the increasing threat from global terrorism makes rationality in decision-making in the defence sector ever more crucial.“

Rationality is probably the most basic principle of present day economics and implies that in society scarce resources should be used in an optimal way to attain predefined objectives. Decisions related to defence should be no exception, yet both laypersons and professional economists continually question the rationality of defence procurement and expenditure decisions. This raises the question: How rational are defence decisions?

Rationality is a complex concept and one increasingly questioned by economists in the face of strategic behaviour, multiple objectives and collective decision-making. Furthermore, experimental economists have questioned the assumptions underlying the traditional understanding of rationality. They have found that decision-makers are influenced by factors other than direct cost-benefit calculations, such as motivation, adaptation, risk-aversion and past experiences. In the case of defence, the problems of measuring output and the relations between input and output make it particularly difficult to cast decisions in terms of rationality.

This lecture will probe the rationality of defence-related decisions, using both traditional and more critical definitions of rationality. The decisions explored will include procurement, joint-international arms production, subsidies to both national defence industries and arms exports, and the levels of arms spending. This will illustrate that a range of meanings of rationality are relevant in defence-related decision making and, thereby, highlight the importance of transparent, democratic and accountable decision-making mechanisms for defence-related decisions.


Editor’s notes

Dr Michael Brzoska is the Head of Research and Deputy Director of the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC). He is an internationally renowned expert in the economics and politics of conventional arms production and transfers: including disarmament and conversion; arms control; defence budgeting and spending; economic sanctions; and security sector reform.

Michael Brzoska is Associate Editor of the Journal of Peace Research, is on the International Advisory Board for the Small Arms Survey in Geneva and and was Chair of the Management Committee of European Union COST A10 Action Defence Restructuring and Conversion.
Michael Brzoska has written many influential books and papers on defence and security economics. Among his most recent publications are: ‘The economics of arms imports after the end of the Cold War’ in: Defence and Peace Economics, Vol. 15, No. 2, 2004; ‘Security Sector Reform from a Donor Perspective: Origins, Theory and Practice’, in: Heiner Hänggi and Theodor H. Winkler (eds) Challenges of Security Sector Reform, Münster, Lit, 2002; and ‘Military industrial conversion’, International Regional Science Review, Vol. 23, No.1, 2000 (with A. Markusen).

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