Technical research innovations of the US national security system

  • R. Fileto MacielEmail author
  • P. Saskia Bayerl
  • Marta Macedo Kerr Pinheiro


Since the Second World War the US defense has been a major participant in the development of radical innovations in information and communication technologies (ICT’s), most famously probably the digital computer and the internet. A regularly present, but less known creator of R&D innovations is the intelligence community. To understand the role and impact of defense and intelligence-related research for driving ICT innovations, we analyzed which technological paradigms were promoted by US defense and intelligence agencies and the development of these research trajectories over time. Using bibliographic analysis, we clustered 82,239 scientific papers funded by the US national security system, published between 2009–2017, in research fronts, and after that aggregated the research fronts into technological paradigms. Our analysis identified main technological paradigms promoted by the US defense’s sectoral system of innovation, such as quantum science and graphene as fields that could generate high impact in the new generation of radical technologies. The efforts of intelligence agencies was highly concentrated on quantum science, social forecasting, computer cognition and signal processing. Our research highlights the role of US security players in shaping research fields.


Innovation Technological paradigm Technological trajectory National security Intelligence Bibliographic analysis 

Mathematics Subject Classification


JEL Classification




Author R. Fileto Maciel has received research grants from Federal Police of Brazil (Polícia Federal do Brasil - Grant Number 08350.014739/2016-14). The findings and observations contained in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Police of Brazil. We thank Vladmir Brito and Mark van der Giessen for comments on a previous version.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Escola de Ciência da InformaçãoUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.Centre of Excellence in Public Safety Management (CESAM), Rotterdam School of ManagementErasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Centre of Excellence in Terrorism, Resilience, Intelligence and Organised Crime Research (CENTRIC)Sheffield Hallam UniversitySheffieldUK
  4. 4.Sistema de Informação e Gestão do ConhecimentoUniversidade FUMECBelo HorizonteBrazil

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