RAND Corporation

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The RAND Corporation is an influential US think-tank with extremely close links to the US military and the corporate sector. It emerged out of the alliance between big business and the state during the Second World War and played an important role in developing Cold War strategy. Today it conducts research into many areas of public policy but has a strong focus on security and international relations.

Origins and history

The RAND Corporation grew out of the merging of the corporate and state sectors in the United States that occurred during the Second World War – what President Eisenhower later famously dubbed the ‘Military-Industrial Complex’. As RAND itself states on its website: “There were discussions among people in the War Department, the Office of Scientific Research and Development, and industry who saw a need for a private organization to connect military planning with research and development decisions.” [1]

RAND began life as a project of the Douglas Aircraft Company, which had made enormous profits from the war, producing thousands of American bombers. It was conceived at a meeting on 1 October 1945 between Henry Arnold, Commanding General of the Army Air Force; MIT's Edward Bowles, a consultant to the Secretary of War; Donald Douglas, of Douglas Aircraft Company; Douglas' Chief Engineer Arthur Raymond, and his assistant Frank Collbohm. Then known as Project RAND, its name was taken from the term research and development. [2] By early 1948 Project RAND had grown to 200 staff members and on 14 May 1948 it broke off from Douglas Aircraft Company to become an independent, non-profit organisation. On 1 November 1948, the Project RAND contract was formally transferred from the Douglas Aircraft Company to the RAND Corporation. The Ford Foundation provided $1 million for the new corporation, [3] and the new think-tank also had $5 million in remaining funds from Project RAND at its disposal. [4]

Cold War Strategy

Denis Healey, probably the most important figure in the development of American style 'strategic thinking' in Britain, makes the following comments on RAND in his memoires:

[RAND] had established itself as the leading think-tank for Pentagon, and had access to all its secrets. They were mainly economists by training, and had developed a vocabulary for 'thinking about the unthinkable' which had all the weaknesses of economic jargon. The universe of nuclear strategy was so difficult to comprehend, and the horrors it contained were so repugnant to normal people, that its study required the same clinical detachment as the study of venereal disease. But that very detachment tended to blind the experts to the human realities, and to enslave them to abstract concepts, the validity of which had never been tested.[5]


"RAND has four principal locations, Santa Monica, California; Arlington, Virginia (just outside Washington, D.C.); Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and RAND Europe headquarters in Leiden, The Netherlands. RAND Europe also has offices in Berlin, Germany, and Cambridge, the United Kingdom." Since 2003, RAND has also operated the RAND-Qatar Policy Institute in Doha, Qatar.

Board of Directors

Ronald L. Olson, Chairman Carl Bildt Harold Brown
Frank Charles Carlucci III Lovida H. Coleman, Jr. Robert Curvin
Pedro Jose Greer, Jr. Rita E. Hauser Karen Elliott House
Jen-Hsun Huang Paul G. Kaminski Bruce Karatz
Lydia H. Kennard Ann McLaughlin Korologos Philip Lader
Arthur Levitt Lloyd N. Morrisett Paul H. O'Neill
Amy B. Pascal Patricia Salas Pineda John Edward Porter
John S. Reed Donald B. Rice James E. Rohr
Jerry I. Speyer James A. Thomson James Q. Wilson


Notable RAND participants


The organization's governance structure includes a board of trustees. Current members of the board include: Francis Fukuyama, Timothy Geithner, John W. Handy, Rita Hauser, Karen House, Jen-Hsun Huang, Paul Kaminski, John M. Keane, Lydia H. Kennard, Ann Korologos, Philip Lader, Peter Lowy, Charles N. Martin, Jr., Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, Ronald Olson, Paul O'Neill, Michael Powell, Donald Rice, James Rohr, James Rothenberg, Donald Tang, James Thomson, and Robert C. Wright.

Former members of the board include: Walter Mondale, Condoleezza Rice, Newton Minow, Brent Scowcroft, Amy Pascal, John Reed, Charles Townes, Caryl Haskins, Walter Wriston, Frank Stanton, Carl Bildt, Donald Rumsfeld, Harold Brown, Robert Curvin, Pedro Greer, Arthur Levitt, Lloyd Morrisett, Frank Carlucci, Lovida Coleman, Ratan Tata, Marta Tienda and Jerry Speyer.

Contact, References and Resources


P.O. Box 2138
1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
Email: correspondence@rand.org
Website: www.rand.org

Resources, external links, notes


Further reading

  • Abella, Alex. Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire (Harcourt, 2008). ISBN 978-0-15-101081-3.
  • S.M. Amadae. Rationalizing Capitalist Democracy: The Cold War Origins of Rational Choice Liberalism (University of Chicago Press, 2003).
  • Martin Collins. Cold War Laboratory: RAND, The Air Force and the American State (Smithsonian Institute, 2002).
  • Paul Dickson Think Tanks, New York: Atheneum, 1971. - Contains a chapter and much other discussion of Rand.
  • Thomas and Agatha Hughes, eds. Systems, Experts, and Computers: The Systems Approach in Management and Engineering After World War II (The MIT Press. Dibner Institute Studies in the History of Science and Technology, 2000).
  • Fred Kaplan. The Wizards of Armageddon" (Stanford University Press, 1991).
  • Clifford, Peggy, ed. "RAND and The City: Part One". Santa Monica Mirror, October 27, 1999 – November 2, 1999. Five-part series includes: 1; 2; 3; 4; & 5. Accessed April 15, 2008.
  • Bruce L. R. Smith The Rand Corporation: Case Study of a Nonprofit Advisory Corporation, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard university Press, 1966.
  • Mark Trachtenberg. History & Strategy (Princeton University Press, 1991).

External links


  1. RAND Corporation website, A Brief History of RAND, (accessed 24 October 2008)
  2. RAND Corporation website, A Brief History of RAND, (accessed 24 October 2008)
  3. RAND Corporation website, A Brief History of RAND, (accessed 24 October 2008)
  4. Donald E. Abelson, A Capitol Idea: Think-Tanks and US Policy (McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, 2006) p.75
  5. Denis Healey, The Time of My Life (London: Penguin, 1989) p.246
  6. About Rand Rand Corporation
  7. RAND Corporation Habitable Planets for man (6.4 MB PDF)