Unmasking Administrative Evil / Edition 1

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Overview

Unmasking Administrative Evil discusses the overlooked relationship between evil and public administration, as well as other fields and professions in public life. The authors argue that the tendency toward administrative evil, as manifested in acts of dehumanization and genocide, is deeply woven into the identity of public administration, as well as other fields and professions in public life. The common characteristic of administrative evil is that ordinary people within their normal professional and administrative roles can engage in acts of evil without being aware that they are doing anything wrong. Under conditions of moral inversion, people may even view their evil activity as good. In an age when "bureaucrat bashing" is fashionable, this book seeks to move beyond such superficial critiques and lay the groundwork for a more ethical and democratic public life, one that recognizes its potential for evil and thereby creates greater possibilities for avoiding the hidden pathways that lead to state-sponsored dehumanization and destruction.

Although social scientists generally do not discuss "evil" in an academic setting, there is no denying that it has existed in public administration throughout history. Hundreds of millions of human beings have died as a direct or indirect consequence of state-sponsored violence. This book argues that administrative evil, or destructiveness, is part of the identity of all modern public administration (as it is part of psychoanalytic study at the individual level). Furthermore, evil has been largely suppressed or ignored despite, or perhaps because of, its profound and far-reaching implications for the field. From the Holocaust tothe "white lie," evil exists on a continuum, and the way along that continuum begins on the proverbial "slippery slope." We prefer to think of horrible eruptions of evil, such as Adolf Hitler, as occurring at a particular historical moment and within specific extraordinary cultural contexts. Yet, we have a long history in the United States of public lynchings, syphilis/radiation/LSD experiments within our military, and police brutality in our cities while public administrators have looked on, even participated. The Holocaust was such a massive administrative undertaking, we must consider whether modern public administration may be at its most effective and efficient when it is engaged in programs of dehumanization and destruction.

Constructing a positive future for public administration requires a willingness to deal with the disturbing aspects of the field's history, identity, and practices. Rather than viewing events such as genocide as isolated or aberrant historical events, the authors show how the forces that unleashed such events are part of modernity and are thus present in all contemporary public organizations. This book is not an exercise in bureaucrat-bashing. It goes beyond superficial critique of public affairs and lays the groundwork for building a more effective and humane profession.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Using the Holocaust to prove the reality of administrative evil, the authors show how evil is masked within contemporary administrative organizations. The first chapter discusses how individual, organizational, and social behaviors interact in ways that can lead to administrative evil. Subsequent chapters discuss topics such as modernity and technical rationality; the Holocaust and public administration; Mittelbau-Dora, Penem<:u>nde, and the Marshall Space Flight Center; NASA and the Space Shuttle ; and finding a basis for ethics in the public service. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765612502
  • Publisher: Sharpe, M. E. Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/10/2004
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword to the Revised Edition
Foreword to the First Edition
Acknowledgments
Introduction and Overview
1 The Dynamics of Evil and Administrative Evil 3
Modernity, Technical Rationality, and Administrative Evil 4
Evil in the Modern Age 5
Understanding Evil 11
The Roots of Administrative Evil: A Psychological Perspective 14
The Social Construction of Evil 20
Individual, Organization, and Society 21
2 Compliance, Technical Rationality, and Administrative Evil 25
Evil and Organizations 26
The Social Construction of Compliance: The Stanford Prison Experiment 27
Modernity and the Dominance of Technical Rationality 29
Compliance in a Culture of Technical Rationality 36
Failing to See Administrative Evil 39
3 Administrative Evil Unmasked: The Holocaust and Public Service 43
The Holocaust and Administrative Evil 44
Adolf Eichmann and the Banality of Administrative Evil 56
Perfectly Safe Ground? 62
4 Administrative Evil Masked: From Mittelbau-Dora and Peenemunde to the Marshall Space Flight Center 65
Mittelbau-Dora 66
Peenemunde 71
Operations Overcast and Paperclip 74
The Von Braun Team 82
Administrative Evil 89
5 Organizational Dynamics and Administrative Evil: The Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA, and the Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia 91
Organizational Dynamics and the Pathway to Administrative Evil 93
The Marshall Space Flight Center, Challenger, and the Pathway to Administrative Evil 95
The Challenger Disaster 102
The Marshall Space Flight Center 105
The Evolution of a Destructive Organizational Culture at Marshall 108
The Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster 113
The Pathway to Administrative Evil 116
6 Public Policy and Administrative Evil 119
Public Policy and Problem Solving 119
Surplus Populations and Public Policy Metaphors 125
The Evacuation and Relocation of "All Persons of Japanese Ancestry" 134
Surplus Populations, Moral Inversion, and Administrative Evil 143
7 In the Face of Administrative Evil: Searching for a Basis for Public Ethics 147
Necessary but Not Sufficient: The Technical-Rational Approach to Public Service Ethics 148
The Challenge of Administrative Evil 150
Globalization, the Corrosion of Character, and Surplus Populations 153
The Prospects for Reconstructing Public Ethics 156
Liberal Democracy 157
Cruelty, Deliberation, and Administrative Evil 162
References 165
Index 177
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