Leadership and Parochialism: An Enduring Reality?
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC CENTER FOR COUNTERPROLIFERATION RESEARCH
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A military culture influenced by rigid planning and structured regulation dictates a rational approach to crisis response. But organizational influences can enter the decisionmaking process. One critic argues that standard operating procedures as well as survival instincts and a desire for prestige can influence and bias decisions. A large bureaucratic structure encourages such agenda setting and distorts reports made available to decisionmakers. Moreover, staffs order and filter huge amounts of data received during a crisis, which naturally colors the upward flow of information as it assumes the form of options and recommendations. This article examines the organizational impediments to optimal military responses in a crisis. According to the late Carl Builder, the services have unique sets of organizational attitudes and beliefs. As the most powerful institutions in the national security community, they have distinctive organizational personalities that dictate much of their behavior. Therefore, the attitudes of individual service members are a subset of organizational attitudes in any given service. There is a strong tendency through socialization, education, and self-regulation to migrate individual beliefs toward centralized institutional attitudes. The way services manipulate information affects decisionmaking in crises. Research into cognition suggests that complex decisionmaking forces human minds to break down information. Cognitive forces also tend to be more absolute in crises and more uncertain when decisionmakers lack time to assimilate facts. In an era of exploding sources of knowledge, decisionmakers depend on information provided by organizations with many entrenched prejudices. This article discusses the effects of the Goldwater-Nichols Reorganization Act of 1986 on decision making bias in Operation Just Cause Panama and the Persian Gulf War, and the results of an attitudes survey on jointness given to war college students at PME institutions.7
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics