Saturday, November 08, 2008

Stephen Hess and the New Obama Administration

Noted presidential organizational historian (as if that title somehow can be purchased with a handful of cereal box tops from ASU) offers the incoming President some advice on his transition team and how he should form his administration. [It's an interesting read, and one too long to quote.]

Now, I've mentioned Stephen Hess in other contexts, but I'll repeat one of his major themes: Republican Administrations are hierarchical (which are efficient but don't always allow for full dissemination of information) and Democratic Administrations are collegial (which allow for multiple points of view, but can get bogged down in decision making).

So far, what we know is this: (1) Obama ran a very tight ship during his campaign, (2) the appointment of Rahm Emmanuel indicates the desire for a very strong hand to manage this Administration, (3) as a community organizer, Obama would have embraced consensus building techniques, and (4) anecdotally, we've gears that Obama felt the need to challenge his staff on things like striking Hillary off the VP shortlist.

Does any of this mean anything? Well, it certainly seems to indicate the possibility that Obama's organizational style could go either hierarchical or collegial.

Now, that being said, the only modern President that was able to pull off a hybrid hierarchical / collegial model was another Democrat that faced economic troubles at home and a two front war.

Methinks that Obama needs to look closely at FDR's example here... that is, apart from the whole dying in office on vacation with your mistress thing.

Yeah. Note to the President-elect: don't do that. Or get polio.

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