Published December 2, 2021 | Version final
Journal article Open

NATO's Concept Development and Experimentation Approach in the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy? – An Institutional Isomorphism Perspective

  • 1. SYNYO GmbH


The paper analyses the Concept Development and Experimentation (CD&E) approach which has been developed and implemented in NATO over the last 20 years. NATO’s CD&E approach is explained as an organisational innovation and institutional response to external and internal pressures. Within the theoretical framing of institutional isomorphism, the paper analyses the adoption of CD&E in the European Union’s (EU) Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The research hypothesis is that the EU will adopt and apply NATO’s CD&E approach in the EU’s defence planning and capability development process. The empirical findings from the analysis of the EU policy practice, however, show that CD&E has actually been adopted from NATO and applied by the EU to a very limited extent. The low degree of isomorphism between NATO and the EU with regard to applying CD&E is explained by a complex set of factors. The research results have broader implications, suggesting that under the current institutional settings it is highly unlikely CD&E to be adopted by other international organisations in the field of international security.   


The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is freely available in Defence Studies, date of publication – 02 Dec 2021, DOI:


NATO s Concept Development and Experimentation approach in the EU s Common Security and Defence Policy an institutional isomorphism perspective.pdf

Additional details


CDE4Peace – Concept Development and Experimentation for EU Conflict Prevention and Peace-building 882055
European Commission