Civil War Shoulder Arms (B)

Case Analysis

At the outbreak of the Civil War the Union Army was the task of supplying the growing number of conscripts Union with shoulder arms. Existing government resources were insufficient, and the chief of artillery was forced to consider the alternatives: government stocks of obsolete rifles, private manufacturers and European defense companies. Further confusing matters was the fact that, given the recent advances in the development of rifle, new weapons promised higher rates of fire and easier handlin … Read more »

At the outbreak of the Civil War the Union Army was the task of supplying the growing number of conscripts Union with shoulder arms. Existing government resources were insufficient, and the chief of artillery was forced to consider the alternatives: government stocks of obsolete rifles, private manufacturers and European defense companies. Further confusing matters was the fact that, given the recent advances in the development of rifle, new weapons have higher rates of fire and easier handling promised, but high-quality innovations in design rifle was impractical under many scattered ones. Part A provides an overview of the complicated nature of the ordnance environment at the outbreak of war and places the tensions between the army rifle design improvement and maintaining a functioning supply system. Part B records the efforts of Christopher Spencer, inventor of an innovative repeater to secure contracts with Army artillery in the face of resistance. The case is designed to illustrate problems in the management of procurement and supply under critical conditions and the place of innovation in this process: how useful the technological conservatism in times of crisis? It also raises questions about the interaction between existing strategic doctrine and new technologies. Finally, it shows some of the sources of innovation in weapons and the ways in which such innovations can be accepted. HKS case number 772.0
«Hide

from
Michael O’Hare,
Melissa Williams
Source: Harvard Kennedy School
5 pages.
Release Date: 1 January 1987. Prod #: HKS019-PDF-ENG
Civil War Shoulder Arms (B) HBR case solution