Providing for the Common Defense: Strategic Agency Adaptation and the Politics of the National Guard
Griswold, John Charles
MetadataShow full item record
This research examines how government agencies adapt to new or qualitatively different demands from policymakers. I argue when faced with these demands, an agency's leaders bargain at arms length with their overseers for resources and institutional changes that enable appropriate adaptation of agency roles. The degree of adaptation is mediated by the agency's political environment. Prior institutional arrangements and fit with leaders' images of the agency also influence agency adaptation. In negotiating this terrain, agency leaders have three overriding goals: to retain or improve bureaucratic autonomy; to maintain or enhance organizational reputation; and to reinforce the prospects for the agency survival. The degree of adaptation is reflected by changes to statute and policy that reshape the institutions and other governing arrangements for the agency. I consider the responses of different sets of leaders of the United States' National Guard to demands imposed on the Guard as a result of civil disturbances in the 1960s and 1970s, the War on Drugs, the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks, and Hurricane Katrina. Each of these cases represents different sets of qualitatively different expectations than the past that required strategic adaptation on the part of the Guard's leadership. I trace the responses in each case, showing how some were more successful in the degree of adaptation than others. There are notable differences in bureaucratic outcomes in terms of enhancing autonomy, reputation, and agency survival. The federalist structure and the historical precedents associated with the domestic use of the armed forces serve as overriding considerations in influencing the degree of adaptation and bureaucratic success. This research spans the fields of American politics, civil-military relations, and public policy in addressing an important yet understudied question in political science - how do government agencies adapt to new missions? The main scholarly contribution is to the literature on bureaucratic politics and American political development in examining a fascinating case of agency adaptation to notable and varied demands. The focus on these aspects of the National Guard and the military more generally are particularly unique given the larger focus of research on military strategy for wars and the international dimensions of defense policy.
- Political science