Change agents : who leads and why in the execution of US national security policy
Author(s)Hicks, Kathleen H
Who leads and why in the execution of US national security policy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
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This dissertation examines the factors affecting national security mission assignment decisions. It focuses on cases in which military or civilian agents are selected in lieu of the other. Six factors are identified for testing as possible contributors to agency selection. These factors are drawn from the existing academic literature in the fields of civil-military relations, presidential and congressional politics, and public administration and bureaucratic decisionmaking. After isolating a post-World War 11 data set of American national security mission assignments, the author examines eight cases that roughly divide between military agent choice and civilian agent choice. The military cases are: the governance of defeated Germany, the 1961 transfer of civil defense responsibility to the Department of Defense, aerial and maritime detection and monitoring in the war on drugs, and support to domestic chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear consequence management missions. Cases of civilian agent choice include the establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the creation of civilian civil defense agencies following World War II, the training of foreign police, and the transfer to FEMA of civil defense responsibilities once managed by DoD. From the evidence in these cases, the author concludes that the degree to which civilian decision-makers are seized with the importance of a national security mission and the implications they ascribe to military or civilian institutionalization of that role are paramount considerations in determining how agencies are selected to lead in new threat areas. Moreover, the geopolitical implications of agent selection are themselves calculated according to an agency's effectiveness-or, alternatively, foreign and domestic public perceptions of its effectiveness. This assessment of effectiveness is critical in determining what strategic signal is being sent by its assignment to a new mission. The findings in this analysis appear to be consistent with David Mayhew's theory that political leaders often seek symbolic value for their policy choices.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2010.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology