Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It

By James Q. Wilson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
Innovation

ON AT LEAST FOUR OCCASIONS during the forty years following the end of World War II the United States Army made major changes in its war-fighting doctrine. The first of these, completed in 1958, involved redesigning the structure of its combat divisions. The traditional structure developed during the war in Europe deployed 17,460 troops organized into three regiments (or brigades); each regiment in turn was organized into battalions. The division had a large number of vehicles (tanks and trucks) and its own antiaircraft forces. Organized in this way, a division could bring centrally controlled, massive firepower to bear on the enemy.

The new structure, called the "pentomic" division, was very different. It was smaller (13,748 men) and organized into five battle groups rather than three regiments; there were no battalion commanders. The number of vehicles was reduced and the division was stripped of its own antiaircraft artillery. The new form was designed to facilitate the decentralized and dispersed defense of an area by semiautonomous units that could fight more or less independently of each other. The avowed rationale for the reorganization and the tactical doctrine on which it was based was that the introduction of atomic weapons into the battlefield made the old structure outmoded; a massed force defending a defined geographic area would be a sitting duck for a nuclear attack. Skeptics who think that armies always prepare for the last war were confounded by the speed with which the army converted all fifteen of its divisions into the new pentomic form.

Within a few years, however, army leaders had become dissatisfied with the pentomic structure. A shortage of communications equipment made controlling the new-style division difficult under the best of circumstances and almost impossible in practice. The cutback in vehicles made it hard to deploy the battle groups. And so in the early 1960s a new doctrine was

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Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the New Edition ix
  • Notes xvi
  • Preface xvii
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • Part I - Organizations 1
  • Chapter 1 - Armies, Prisons, Schools 3
  • Chapter 2 - Organization Matters 14
  • Part II - Operators 29
  • Chapter 3 - Circumstances 31
  • Conclusions 48
  • Chapter 4 - Beliefs 50
  • Conclusions 70
  • Chapter 5 - Interests 72
  • Conclusions 88
  • Chapter 6 - Culture 90
  • Part III - Managers 111
  • Chapter 7 - Constraints 113
  • Chapter 8 - People 137
  • Conclusions 153
  • Chapter 9 - Compliance 154
  • Summary: Achieving Compliance 174
  • Part IV - Executives 177
  • Chapter 10 - Turf 179
  • Conclusions 195
  • Chapter 11 - Strategies 196
  • Conclusions 217
  • Chapter 12 - Innovation 218
  • Part V - Context 233
  • Chapter 13 - Congress 235
  • Appendix - Congressional Dominance: a Closer Look 254
  • Chapter 14 - Presidents 257
  • Chapter 15 - Courts 277
  • Chapter 16 - National Differences 295
  • Part VI - Change 313
  • Chapter 17 - Problems 315
  • Conclusions 331
  • Chapter 18 - Rules 333
  • Chapter 19 - Markets 346
  • Conclusions 363
  • Chapter 20 - Bureaucracy and the Public Interest 365
  • Notes 379
  • Index 409
  • Subject Index 418
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