Margaret M. Polski, Ph.D.

Professor Wargaming Department
Margaret M Polski photo


Dr. Polski provides national security analysis and research for senior military leaders and their staff. She has over thirty years of experience helping organizations innovate to address threats, emerging opportunities, and operating performance. Dr. Polski's research is focused on strategic behavior in complex adaptive systems, and includes work in experimental design, game theory, cognitive neuroscience, and computational social science. Her current research interests are related to understanding the behavior of heterogeneous systems.

Contact Information

Areas of Expertise

  • Economics
  • International Relations
  • National Security
  • Operational Warfare
  • Policy
  • Wargaming

Professional Highlights


Professor U.S. Naval War College War Gaming Department

Supports war gaming research, teaching, and advising activities in the U.S. Naval War College War Gaming Department. Designs research and leads analytic teams to meet the objectives of the senior leadership of the Department of Defense. Publishes unclassified and classified research. Develops war gaming course curriculum, advises personnel on research projects, and serves on doctoral dissertation committees. Serves as Co-Chair of the NWC Research Council and as a research reviewer for the National Science Foundation.

Associate Professor U.S. Naval War College War Gaming Department


National Academies

Consultant to the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy of the National Academies on improving the U.S. skilled technical workforce, university-led innovation, ecosystem analysis, and understanding vulnerabilities in global value chains.

Technical Assistance

Designed and conducted a comparative study of U.S. military strategy enterprises for the Chief of Naval Operations' Strategy and Planning staff. Provided technical assistance to the Office of the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Embedded with the ISAF Headquarters Afghan Assessment cell in Kabul to support the Commander's strategic assessment and reporting activities.


Embedded with the Assistance Coordination Unit of the moderate Syrian opposition to assess strategy, planning, and operational activities.


Provided technical assistance to support U.S. national security interests in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Ph.D., Indiana University, Political Science

M.P.A., Harvard University, Business Economics and Policy

B.E.S., University of Minnesota, Social Science and Management

Research Contributions and Publications

Classified War Game Research Reports
War Gaming Department, U.S. Naval War College, Newport RI.

North American Treaty Organization (NATO) Analytical War Gaming – Innovative Approaches to Data Capture, Analysis, and Exploitation
Collins, Sue and Margaret M. Polski (Eds.) NATO/STO Technical Report AC/323(SAS-139)TP/1065. Paris: FR. NATO/STO. March.

Doing Analysis
With Jon Scott Logel in Graham Longley-Brown, John Curry Ed. 2019. Successful Professional War Games: A Practitioner’s Guide. History of War Gaming Project, London, UK.

Back to Basics—Research Design for the Operational Level of War
Naval War College Review, Summer 2019, Vol. 72, No.3.

A Warfighter’s Guide to Analysis
War Gaming Department Working Paper WGD_20181, U.S. Naval War College, Newport RI.

Extending the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework to Policy Analysis and Design
In Filippo Sabetti and Dario Castiglio Eds. Institutional Diversity in Self-Governing Societies: The Bloomington School and Beyond. Landam, MD: Lexington Books.

An Institutional Framework for Policy Analysis and Design
2017 [1999]
With Elinor Ostrom in Daniel Cole and Michael McGinnis Eds. Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomington School of Political Economy: Volume 3, Frameworks and Methods of Institutional Analysis. Lanham MD: Lexington Books.

Strategy 2.0: The Next Generation
Joint Force Quarterly: 81, 2nd Quarter

Are War Games Quasi-Experiments?
Technical briefing paper for a panel discussion at the 83rd Symposium of the Military Operations Research Society.

Rethinking the Role of Universities in Innovation
October 2014
Background Paper for the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy, National Research Council, National Academy.

Improving the Accuracy of U.S. Government Debt Estimates
March 2011
Mercatus Center Working Paper No. 11-13, George Mason University.

Truth and Consequences: A Guide to Understanding U.S. Government Debt and Deficits
December 2010
Mercatus Center Working Paper No. 10-76, George Mason University.

Systemic Risk and the U.S. Financial System
Mercatus On Policy Series No. 53, Mercatus Center, George Mason University

Bank Risk Management
April 2009
Mercatus On Policy Series No 43, Mercatus Center, George Mason University.

"Wired for Survival: The Rational (And Irrational) Choices We Make, From the Gas Pump to Terrorism"
FT Press (Wharton School Publishing).

The Economic Organization of Biomedical Research in the United States
International Social Science Journal. 188:283-297.

The Institutional Economics of Biodiversity, Biological Materials, and Bioprospecting
Journal of Ecological Economics. 53:543-557.

"The Invisible Hands of U.S. Commercial Banking Reform: Private Action and Public Guarantees"
Elsevier: The Netherlands: Kluwer.

Growth and Change in the New Economy: Opportunities and Challenges
In Audretsch, D. and Welfens, Pjj. Eds., The New Economy and Economic Growth in Europe and the U.S, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

The New Economy in Germany and the United States: Policy Challenges and Solutions
American Institute for Contemporary German Studies Economic Studies Working Paper 27
The AICGS New Economy Study Group Team
Washington, D.C.: AICGS

Measuring Transaction Costs and Institutional Change in the U.S. Commercial Banking Industry
January 2001
Institute for Development Strategies Discussion Paper ISSN 01-3.

Sustaining Innovation and Growth in Research-Intensive Industries: Early Stage Finance Issues & Approaches
August 2000
Discussion paper prepared for the Board on Science, Engineering, Technology, and Economic Policy, Research Council, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.

Community Driven Development
In the Poverty Reduction Sourcebook, Volume I, Chapter 9. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.

Institutional Evolution and Change: Interstate Banking Reform in the United States
Doctoral Dissertation
UMI Company: Ann Arbor, MI.

Local Actions, Better Lives: Decentralizing Rural Infrastructure Services
The Economic Development Institute of the World Bank. Washington, D.C.

Seizing the Opportunity, Meeting the Challenge: Institutional Reform for Sustainable Rural Infrastructure
The Economic Development Institute of the World Bank. Washington, D.C.

Other Honors

Military Cyber Professionals Association Order of Thor

External Memberships and Associations

Center for Advanced Preparedness and Threat Response Simulation Board of Advisors

City of Newport Planning Board Member

Military Operations Research Society

National Science Foundation Predictive Intelligence for Pandemic Prevention Phase I Challenge Grant Team

U.S. Naval Institute

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