Organizational Structure and Presidential Decision Making

John P. Burke

in The Oxford Handbook of the American Presidency

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780199238859
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

 Organizational Structure and Presidential Decision Making

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Three important works began to capture the impact of organization upon the presidency: Richard Tanner Johnson's Managing the White House (1974), Irving Janis' Victims of Groupthink (1972), and Graham Allison's Essence of Decision (1971). Johnson's work proved important both in recognizing the different organizational patterns and in beginning to recognize the related dimension of the presidential management of them. Janis sought to demonstrate that poor policy choices were made by participants who were otherwise highly intelligent, substantively experienced, and politically sophisticated. He attributes this failure in decision outcome to a particular pathology of small groups: the emergence of ‘groupthink’. Allison's work is important as an examination of Kennedy's decision making, but it has captured enduring scholarly attention for its three models and the different explanatory light each sheds. There are a number of additional issues that merit further consideration concerning the relationship of organizational structure and presidential decision making.

Keywords: organizational structure; presidential decision making; Richard Tanner Johnson; Managing the White House; Irving Janis; Victims of Groupthink; Graham Allison; Essence of Decision

Article.  13057 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Public Administration

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