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A Constitutional Administrative State?

All governments must collect taxes, punish criminals, enforce building codes, and license certain professions. The real debate is over how the administrative state acts and under what powers.

Daniel DiSalvo recently wrote a book review for the Witherspoon Institute on Joseph Postell’s Bureaucracy in America: The Administrative State’s Challenge to Constitutional Government in which he asks, “What would a constitutional administrative state look like today?”

Daniel DiSalvo is an associate professor of political science at the City College of New York-CUNY and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.


The mere mention of bureaucracy makes many people’s eyes glaze over. Even attempts to gin up interest by using scary sounding terms like the “deep state” have yet to hold the public’s attention for very long. Yet bureaucratic power is the source of heated debate among politicians, intellectuals, and scholars. For liberals, the administrative state is the positive force by which modern government remolds society to make it more democratic and egalitarian. For conservatives, it elicits concerns about an unconstitutional “fourth branch” of government that threatens to make a mockery of liberty and self-government.

In a rich and detailed new book, Bureaucracy in America: The Administrative State’s Challenge to Constitutional Government, political scientist Joseph Postell analyzes the evolution of the administrative state and assesses its constitutional standing. He argues that there is an unresolved tension between modern bureaucratic power and American constitutionalism. To make this case, he traces the development of administrative power in the American political system from the founding to the present. He seeks to show that throughout the nineteenth century the bureaucracy was held in check by constitutional constraints. It was only after the Progressives of the early twentieth century developed new modes of bureaucratic power (which largely had to wait until the New Deal to be implemented) that the administrative state exceeded constitutional barriers. Today, the bureaucracy is largely based not on constitutional but on progressive principles.

Postell succeeds in telling what is admittedly dense and complex history. Administrative law tempts scholars into either vague abstraction (in an effort to cover a wide-range of government activities) or mind-numbing detail (in an effort to get to the core of agency decisions). Mercifully, Postell avoids both temptations, steering a middle course that is accessible and readable. Although he leaves some important questions unanswered, his book is a good foundation for more productive conversations about the contemporary administrative state.

The Founders’ Vision of Administrative Powers

Postell begins with how the founders inherited and refined a set of principles that defined constitutional administrative power. These were “lawmaking by elected representatives, unity of the executive, the separation of powers, and judicial review of administrative action.” These principles reduced administrative discretion, preserved the president’s responsibility for administrative decisions, and empowered the courts to invoke judicial review of administrative actions.

Today’s bureaucracy clearly does not embody those principles. It is staffed by career employees, protected by civil service statutes, who are empowered to formulate rules that have the force of law, implement those rules with considerable discretion, and adjudicate disputes that arise from their application. Postell’s book chronicles the shift from one type of administrative state to the other.

Postell argues that throughout the nineteenth century, the administrative state adhered to the founders’ principles of republicanism and separation of powers. The founders’ definition of republicanism entailed that all laws must derive from elected representatives (what came to be known as the non-delegation doctrine). In this view, Congress could not delegate powers to departments, because doing so would undermine representative government. In the Jacksonian era, Congress largely upheld the non-delegation doctrine. President Jackson, Postell shows, reinforced the principle of a unitary executive responsible for administrative actions, firmly establishing the president’s power to remove officers at will. The removal power facilitated the spoils system as presidents from a new party could remove officials appointed by previous presidents of the prior party and install their loyalists.

Postell maintains that traditional views of administrative power prevailed after the Civil War. Contrary to some accounts, he argues that the Pendleton Act and the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission did not reflect a first step in the direction of today’s administrative state. Rather, the debates surrounding their passage reflected an attachment to constitutional principles, not to progressive ideas. Postell shows that those involved in the debates over the laws were not simply attacking (or defending) the patronage-based political parties or the railroads. Instead, they were concerned about constitutional strictures.

The Ascent of Progressivism

The real change, Postell argues, came in the early twentieth century, when progressive reformers advanced a new theory of administration that rejected separation of powers and representation and sought to reduce judicial review of administrative actions. In short, the progressives sought to reconfigure the distribution of power among American political institutions to make way for a more powerful bureaucracy.

Postell shows how the progressives attacked the principles of republicanism and representation. Their attack proceeded on two fronts. First, they pushed for greater direct democracy through the enactment of the initiative, referendum, and recall in many state and local governments. No representatives were needed if the people could rule directly. Second, they redefined democracy as an end rather than a process. So conceived, democracy becomes more about getting the “right” results than about how they are achieved. To ensure the realization of the right outcomes, power needs to be handed to bureaucratic experts who will secure the people’s best interests.

Because elected representatives are prone to mistaking short-term political advantage for the long-term public good, progressives sought to transfer power away from elected representatives to bureaucratic experts and to insulate the latter from politics. Ever since, however, progressives (and their liberal heirs) have struggled to square the circle of how expert administrators with discretionary powers could be brought under political or popular control.

The progressives also sought to weaken the principle of separation of powers. To refashion society, modern bureaucracy needed more power and more discretion to use that power. It needed to be able to combine legislative, executive, and judicial powers. The result was an alphabet soup of commissions, boards, corporations, and authorities that would exercise such powers at a significant remove from presidents and members of Congress.

Finally, progressives sought to blunt the force of the principle of the rule of law, as it had been traditionally understood. In their view, detailed laws should not constrain experts and courts should defer to agency decisions and intervene as little as possible. The rule of men was not just to be permitted but encouraged, so long as the right men were in charge.

The progressives established both the philosophical and practical precedents that paved the way for the dramatic expansion of the administrative state during the New Deal. Franklin D. Roosevelt “solved” the problem of the lack of democratic control of the new bureaucratic leviathan by claiming that the president would “bridge the gap” between politics and administration. His legacy has produced a paradoxical battle between liberals, who favor government action but want greater judicial review of agency decisions (especially with a Republican in the White House), and conservatives, who favor government restraint but seek greater judicial deference to presidential control of the bureaucracy. The current state of law under the Chevron decision is complex to the point of absurdity, as different levels of judicial deference apply to different types of agency decisions.

The Battle Over the Administrative State

Postell’s book demonstrates that the battle over the administrative state is a theoretical and practical one about who should rule. At the theoretical level, one view holds that the people should rule through the Constitution and the elected and appointed offices it sets up. Democracy is the process by which elected representatives and appointed judges handle issues as they arise and the people rule insofar as the Constitution is followed. The other view is that the Constitution needs to be reinterpreted to adjust for the fact that modern society requires expert management to secure the people’s long-term interests. Democracy is conceived as a set of outcomes such as reduced economic inequality and increased social solidarity.

In practice, the battle over the administrative state is a battle over the balance of power among America’s political institutions. In the nineteenth century, Congress, the courts, and the parties were strong, and presidents and administrators were weak. In the twentieth century, presidents and administrators became strong, Congress and the parties weak, and the role of courts contested.

Postell ably charts these developments and the thinking behind them. He shows what is at stake when choosing what theory to put into practice and traces each one’s practical effects. He reminds readers that the mere existence of the administrative state is not unconstitutional or inconsistent with the rule of law. Indeed, governments have always regulated all kinds of activities—and people expect government to do such things. All governments must collect taxes, punish criminals, enforce building codes, and license certain professions. The real debate is over how the administrative state acts and under what powers. Postell makes a strong argument that the administrative state was, for more than a century, in accord with the Constitution and the founders’ principles. It is only over the last one hundred years or so that things have gotten out of hand.

Unanswered Questions

However, Postell leaves a number of big questions unaddressed. He regularly asserts that the current administrative state is in “tension” with or a “challenge” to the Constitution and that it suffers from a “crisis of legitimacy.” He never quite comes out and says it is unconstitutional, but he seems to imply it. Yet, if the progressive version of the administrative state constitutes a crisis of legitimacy, it is one of the longest running crises in American history.

The reader is left wondering: what would a constitutional administrative state look like in the twenty-first century? How should it operate? Even if one takes Postell’s nineteenth-century administrative state as the model, many questions remain. Is the contemporary Congress up to the job of producing highly detailed laws that would constrain administrators? Should federal courts exercise even more power than they already do over the operations of government? Should merit systems and civil service protections for federal employees be eliminated? Would the federal government need to do far less than it does today? If, by some miracle, a constitutional administrative state could be created, would that state be any more effective in dealing with the nation’s problems than the current unconstitutional one?

Of course, the big obstacles to improving the administrative state are political. Perhaps Postell doesn’t offer such an account because his historical survey reveals that changes in the administrative state alter American constitutionalism and American constitutionalism simultaneously shapes the administrative state. The result is something of a muddle that is unsatisfying for both those promoting greater administrative power and those defending constitutional principles. Perhaps efforts to push the administrative state in a more constitutional direction will only further muddy the waters.

Ultimately, Postell has distilled the distinct strains of American thought about the administrative state and how they have interacted in concrete legal and political battles. That is an important step that will hopefully move discussion of the administrative state in a more productive direction.

The 99th Anniversary of the Siege of the Lost Battalion

This October 2nd-7th is the 99th anniversary of the Siege of the Lost Battalion when three battalions from the U.S. Army’s Seventy-seventh Division were trapped by German forces in a pocket of the Argonne Forest during WWI. In honor of this anniversary, we are highlighting Robert Ferrell’s Five Days in October: The Lost Battalion of World War I and several other WWI titles that focus on the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.

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“The pocket” where the Lost Battalion was trapped

The courage of the men under siege in the midst of rifle, machine-gun, mortar and artillery fire with nothing to eat and with water dangerous to obtain, has gone down in American history. In Five Days in October, Ferrell presents previously unavailable material, providing a fuller understanding of the story behind the Lost Battalion.

 

 

“It was the most poignant incident of the American part in the World War, and its biggest newspaper story.”—Thomas M. Johnson, “The Lost Battalion,” American Magazine, November, 1929

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“The pocket” October 1918

The causes of the battalions’ entrapment were several, including command failures and tactical errors. The men had been sent ahead of the main division line without attention to flanks, and because of this misstep, they were surrounded by the Germans. Thus began a siege that took the lives of about 200 men.

After enduring two days of attacks from the Germans, American artillery fire hit the area. It started just beyond the Lost Battalion’s location and succeeded in damaging the German position. However, it shifted directly to the pocket, forcing the soldiers to hunker down and wait it out. By the time the fire ended, an hour and a half after it started, 30 men had been killed or wounded and many trees and bushes had been flattened, exposing their position.

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Cher Ami

In the midst of the shelling, Major Whittlesey sent his last carrier pigeon, Cher Ami, with the message:

We are along the road parallel 276.4. Our artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven’s sake, stop it. – Whittlesey, Major, 308th

The story is that Cher Ami, shot by enemy fire, managed to deliver its message, but died soon after. It was later stuffed and exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

Read more fascinating and informative details about this WW I episode in Farrell’s book, available at Amazon and Indiebound, in addition to our website.

Other University of Missouri Press WWI titles include:

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Collapse at Meuse-Argonne: The Failure of the Missouri-Kansas Division
Robert H. Ferrell
$24.95 • Paperback • ISBN:978-0-8262-2142-1

 

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Unjustly Dishonored: An African American Division in World War I
Robert H. Ferrell
$29.95 • Hardcover • ISBN: 978-0-8262-1916-9

 

ferrell.stackpoleIn the Company of Generals: The World War I Diary of Pierpont L. Stackpole
Edited by Robert H. Ferrell
$40.00 • Hardcover • ISBN: 978-0-8262-1870-4

Continuity and Change in the U.S. Navy

By Lisle Rose

Lisle A. Rose holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University of California, Berkeley, and is the author of thirteen books, including six published by the University of Missouri Press. He has worked as a sailor, a professor, a diplomat, and a court-appointed special advocate for at-risk children. He lives in Edmonds, Washington.

In this blog, Rose compares his experiences in the Navy in the 1950s to those of the Navy of 1917-1918, the subject of his newest book, AMERICAN SAILORS IN THE GREAT WAR, which received the 2016 Lyman Awards Honorable Mention.

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Subchaser 113 crew

When one reaches the age of eighty, a century doesn’t seem too long ago.  But what impressed me most as I researched and wrote America’s Sailors in the Great War was how close the Navy of 1917-18 was to the Navy I served in 1954-57. In all respects, my Navy was on the cusp of revolutionary changes from a service that had experienced an earlier revolution in the years leading to World War I. For an enlisted man, the most immediate continuity between 1917 and 1955 was habitability.  In 1917, four-tier sleeping “racks” began replacing the hammocks that went back centuries into the Age of Fighting Sail. Compared to today’s enlisted sleeping arrangements with their privacy curtains, individual reading lights and separation between each tier of bunks,  the racks, while an improvement, were still primitive, indeed. I leave it to the reader’s imagination to consider what placing eight men in immediate proximity in often over- or under-heated compartments of 50 or more (no sheets, by the way, just a single wool blanket) would do to a sense of privacy and, indeed, simple hygiene. This is why the Navy in both 1917 and 1956 was absolutely fanatical about cleanliness, with showering every single day being mandatory. Adjacent lockers barely large enough for 2 or 3 days worth of work clothing (formal uniforms and heavier clothing was stored in corners of each compartment) and no personal items completed a very austere environment.

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Three subchasers at New York City returned from overseas

The 1917 Navy retained its emphasis on gunnery, but the first glimmerings of aviation, submarines, etc. showed the way to future developments breathtaking in scope. Those developments really began to be felt in my service in the mid-50s. Supersonic aircraft, guided missile, nuclear propulsion all came with a rush, often overwhelming the senior enlisted people who had entered the service on the eve of World War II as Depression-era kids.  Suddenly, the Navy had to have much brighter people, and to attract them had to make life, especially at sea, more bearable. Guided missile specialists and nuclear submariners were not going to be attracted to primitive living conditions – nor, indeed, to a service in which unquestioned obedience to orders, no matter how fanciful, was the rule.

Today’s sailors are much smarter and more sophisticated than those of my time 60-odd years ago when the service that had its origins in 1917 was beginning to pass from the scene.


AMERICA’S SAILORS IN THE GREAT WAR Rose - Americas Sailors in the Great War 72 dpi
Seas, Skies, and Submarines
Lisle A. Rose
Hardcover: 978-0-8262-2105-6 • $36.95 • 300 pp. • 22 illus. • 3 maps • 6 x 9

Available at Amazon, IndieBound, and Barnes and Noble, or by calling 800-621-2736.

“In recounting the U.S. Navy’s roles in World War I, Rose makes clear that the Americans were an important component to the ultimate victory, and that the experience laid the keel for the great Navy that would fight and win the next war where the stakes were even higher. Truly a vicariously edifying experience!”—Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Naval Institute, U.S. Naval War College, author of A Sailor’s History of the U.S. Navy

“A thoroughly researched, must read for those who thrive on real-world details of WW I.  America’s Sailors in the Great War is a fascinating revelation of life on and under the seas, in the torrid North Atlantic and waters surrounding the UK.  Lisle Rose makes clear that the success in moving massive quantities of war material, sustaining supplies, and millions of American troops to the fray resides in large measure on the extraordinary performance of seamen and ships, which did the grudging and hazardous convoy duty.”—Admiral Tom Hayward, USN (Ret.), Former Chief of Naval Operations

Understanding the Unknown: Medicine and Near-Death Experiences

Hagan Cover

9780826221032 · hardcover · 208 pp.

The Science of Near-Death Experiences is available for $20 between September 4th and October 8th. Use the promotion code NDE17 here or call 800-621-2736.

 

As more people share their stories of near-death experiences (NDEs), scientists and medical doctors have advanced their understanding of the nature of consciousness and the implications of NDEs. In The Science of Near-Death Experiences, edited by John C. Hagan, III, MD, physicians discuss what causes the typical—and atypical—near-death experiences we often hear about: a sense of peace, a tunnel of light, meeting with deceased family members and a heavenly experience. The book also discusses so called distressing NDEs which have upsetting and disturbing content suggesting perdition.

Doctors have discovered that the majority of people who experience near-death during surgery do not often discuss it without physicians or nurses asking, “Did anything unusual happen while you were unconscious that you would like to talk about?” In addition, physicians and nurses are often not trained to discuss these occurrences with their patients to help the patients understand and accept what they experienced.

People who have undergone near-death experiences sometimes describe things that they could not have known from their five senses while lying on the operating table. They describe being conscious even while sedated. This acclaimed book offers unique insights and up-to-date information for physicians, nurses, and people who have had NDEs and their families.

William Webster receives The Foundation of the CIA

Schroeder and WebsterRecently, Richard Schroeder (right), author of the newly available The Foundation of the CIA: Harry Truman, the Missouri Gang, and the Origins of the Cold War, delivered a copy of his book to the Honorable William Webster, former director of the CIA. Schroeder told us a little bit about their conversation:

Webster and Roscoe Hillenkotter, who was the first director of the CIA, served together as Naval officers (and were both from Missouri). As Webster described his youth, he was a member of the “Pearl Harbor Class” of freshmen at Amherst College and they all volunteered wholesale for the war. During WWII, he served in “little ships” off Washington State, but was later recalled to duty in Korea and was on a big Schroeder - Missouri at SeaNavy refueling ship when the Chinese entered the war in late 1950. Hillenkoetter, by then having left the CIA and in command of a cruiser division, protected the retreating American and South Korean armies.  Schroeder and Webser are confident that Webster’s ship supported Hillenkoetter’s cruisers and the battleship Missouri. This battleship is the subject of Schroeder’s earlier book, Missouri at Sea.

SchroedNagel - George Caleb Binghamer also notes that Webster and Senator Kit Bond saved the George Caleb Bingham art collection “for the people of Missouri,” adding that, “more Missourians should remember Judge Webster and his contributions to our country—especially at a time when we could use more honor and honesty in Washington.”

Schroeder by Leah W. Schroeder (72 dpi)

Richard E. Schroeder is Adjunct Professor, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. A retired Central Intelligence Agency officer and an Advisory Board Member Emeritus of the International Spy Museum, he lives in Washington, D.C.

THE FOUNDATION OF THE CIA 05 Schroeder cover
Harry Truman, The Missouri Gang, and the Origins of the Cold War
Richard E. Schroeder
$24.95 • hardcover: 978-0-8262-2137-7 • 224 pp. • 53 illus.

Censorship and Corruption in Kansas and Kansas City

A Fool There Was (1915)Directed by Frank Powell Shown: Theda Bara

$24.95 • Paper: 978-0-8262-2110-0

Just over 100 years ago, Kansas became one of only a handful of states to establish its own film censorship board. This board controlled screen content in the state for more than 50 years – if you caught a movie in Kansas before the 1970s, you’re likely to have seen a different version than did the rest of America. Gerald Butter’s Banned in Kansas: Motion Picture Censorship, 1915-1966 examines the unique political, social, and economic factors that led to the establishment of the censorship board in Kansas, and examines why censorship legislation was enacted, what the attitudes of Kansans were toward censorship, and why it lasted for half a century.

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$24.95 • Paper: 978-0-8262-2114-8

Around the same time that the Kansas Board of Censorship was formed, the notorious political boss, Thomas J. Pendergast, was just getting involved in Kansas City politics. In 1911, Pendergast became  head of the Goats, a faction of the Kansas City Democrats. Over the next fifteen years, he created a powerful political machine that used illegal voting and criminal enforcers to gain power. In 1925, Pendergast took control of Kansas City and ran it as his own personal business. In the 1930s, he received over $30 million annually from gambling, prostitution, and narcotics. In Pendergast! Lawrence Larsen and Nancy Hulston have provided – through extensive research, including use of recently released prison records and previously unavailable family records – a clear look at Pendergast’s life and rise to power.


Banned in Kansas and Pendergast! are both available at Amazon, IndieBound, Barnes&Noble, and on our website, or by calling 800-621-2736.

 

A Fool There Was (1915) Directed by Frank Powell Shown: Theda Bara

BANNED IN KANSAS
Motion Picture Censorship, 1915-1966
Gerald R. Butters, Jr.
$24.95 • Paperback: 978-0-8262-2110-0
368 pp. • 14 illus. • 6.13 x 9.25

 

 

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PENDERGAST!
Lawrence H. Larsen & Nancy J. Hulston
$24.95 • Paperback: 978-0-8262- 2114-8
256 pages • 35 illus. • 6 x 9

Fall and Winter Catalog

Our 2017 Fall and Winter catalog is now available! This season’s books cover history, philosophy and literature and include topics such as the early, unpublished stories of playwright Lanford Wilson, a history of the founding of the CIA, and a biography of Omar Nelson Bradley. Too see the full array of what’s available, click the image below.

F17 catalog cover

 

The Desk

Our final excerpt from The Dysfunctional Workplace: Theory, Stories, and Practice, “The Desk,” is about the experience of organizational space as symbol and metaphor.

June 18-25, The Dysfunctional Workplace is on sale for $20! Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.


After Bob departed Frank had the office to himself. Frank’s experience of this space was how dominant Bob’s huge desk was in the space. The desk was very large and had two large extensions attached to it, making a U shape. The desk filled the room, leaving only a four foot aisle around the desk where eight armless metal chairs were lined up against the walls—four in the front and four to the right side. The desk on the left side was near a window, and it was a few feet from the back wall to allow walking around the desk to enter the U-shape. Frank’s experience of the desk in this space was one of sitting in a commanding position where everything else and everyone else were diminished, relegated to the thin strip of small chairs around the sides. Add to this a large high back chair and the feeling was one of power, dominance and mastery—a lord of the universe. When Frank replaced the desk with modern office furniture in the corner opposite the door to the room, the room turned out to be large and easily accommodated a small conference table for meetings in addition to having a welcoming sense of openness.

For more on the ideas behind the book, read a discussion with the authors.


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THE DYSFUNCTIONAL WORKPLACE
Theory, Stories, and Practice
Seth Allcorn and Howard F. Stein

ISBN: 978-0-8262-2065-3 • Hardcover • 220 pp. • 6 x 9

On sale for $20 (regularly $45), June 18-25. Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.

The Sell

Today’s excerpt, from the story “The Sell,” focuses on the powerful influence destructive leaders can have on an organization. For more on the book, read this conversation with the authors: reading guide.

June 18-25, The Dysfunctional Workplace is on sale for $20! Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.


The chairman introduced the speaker with much fanfare. All the physicians in the department, many of them new, had been required by the chairman to attend this talk. It was a “command performance.” Tom, a tenured basic scientist, was also there and sat and listened to the speaker deliver his talk. The speaker described the medical center and how he envisaged the department would interface with the center and how this relationship building and corporatization would make the department more profitable and competitive.

As he spoke, Tom realized that a continuous strand unifying his talk was how wonderful the present were, how superb the department was, and how by comparison inept and “bad” other departments like surgery were. The speaker made a number of comparisons where the department was portrayed as looking good compared to the other clinical departments that were said to be inept, selfish, unreliable, and possessing a number of other negative qualities.

As his talk proceeded, Tom found himself becoming increasingly ill at ease with this approach. In paying attention to his thoughts and feelings, he was beginning to wonder why he was so upset and angry. He eventually realized that he felt that he and those present were being blatantly seduced. The constant flattery seemed to be leading everyone present to becoming ensnared in a trap the speaker was setting. Tom had a gnawing sense that what the speaker was advocating would hurt the department. When he finished his talk, the audience politely applauded. The speaker invited everyone to ask questions. Tom could hardly restrain himself.


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THE DYSFUNCTIONAL WORKPLACE
Theory, Stories, and Practice
Seth Allcorn and Howard F. Stein

ISBN: 978-0-8262-2065-3 • Hardcover • 220 pp. • 6 x 9

Now on sale for $20 (regularly $45), June 18-25. Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.

The Warehouse

“The Warehouse,” today’s excerpt from The Dysfunctional Workplace: Theory, Stories, and Practice is about the truly dark side of the workplace, where protecting one’s ego becomes the primary consideration for decision making.

June 18-25, The Dysfunctional Workplace is on sale for $20! Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.


The next day Bob met with the owner, a surgeon who had been recruited to the area because there were few healthcare providers. The surgeon not only owned the plant, but he also owned a car dealership that he said might soon go bankrupt due to a major embezzlement. As the meeting began the owner was looking through a stack of index cards. He explained that he was financially strapped and that he had to find hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a new warehouse. The index cards were names of patients who might be talked into having different types of elective surgery–the answer to his cash flow problem.

Bob eventually mentioned to the surgeon/owner that the warehouse was full of spoiled inventory–about 40%, based on a quick count of linear shelf space that he had done in a few minutes after the tour. Bob suggested that if he sold the inventory to big discount store down the street for cost of materials, he would not have to build a warehouse, and he would in fact have a major cash infusion. The owner, being a surgeon, was dependent on the plant manager and a nearby university faculty member who served as a consultant to run the plant efficiently. He was surprised but also ecstatic about the possibilities and he immediately gave the order to his sales manager to sell the spoiled inventory. In a few days the sale was made and trucks delivered the inventory, clearing out the warehouse.

Bob returned home feeling as though he had made a timely contribution to problem solving, albeit passing the problem onto the discount store, not noted in all instances for selling high quality products. Within a week, however, he was informed that he was being terminated. When he inquired about this with the sales manager, he was told that the idea to sell the spoiled inventory had embarrassed both the plant manager and the university professor/consultant. They had lost face with the owner and were furious. His head had to roll.

For more, read a discussion with the authors: Dysfunctional Workplace reading guide


allcorn-stein_dysfunctional_72

THE DYSFUNCTIONAL WORKPLACE
Theory, Stories, and Practice
Seth Allcorn and Howard F. Stein

ISBN: 978-0-8262-2065-3 • Hardcover • 220 pp. • 6 x 9

Now on sale for $20 (regularly $45), June 18-25. Use code DW17 at checkout at our website or call 800-621-2736.