Homeland security organizations design contingencies in complex environments
Madia, James D.
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Protecting America from terrorism, natural disasters, and other threats has never been more important or as complex an endeavor as it is today. From asymmetrical warfare to economic meltdown, the environments are increasingly unstable, dynamic and complex, yet many U.S. homeland security organizations are designed around a 19th century model created for the Industrial Age. Information Age challenges demand new ideas for organizational design. Traditional mechanistic and hierarchical bureaucracies must be re-examined. This thesis explores case studies that include an intelligence organization fighting bioterrorism and a military unit battling insurgents in asymmetrical warfare. Case study research was selected to examine "how" and "why" questions related to organic organizational design in dynamic and complex environments. Organic designs provide a better fit because they leveraged three critical capabilities for these environments: communication dissemination, sense-making, and timely conversion of information to action. This fit is accomplished through elements, such as decentralized decision authority, emergent leadership, low specialization, low formalization, use of liaisons, and a reliance on performance controls, which in turn, contribute to decentralized allocation of decision rights, unconstrained patterns of interaction, and broad distribution of information. Organizations of the future will benefit from the insights that emerged from this research.
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