Unmasking Administrative Evil / Edition 3

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Completely revised, and featuring a new foreword by Philip Zimbardo and a new chapter on the abuses at Abu Ghraib, this classic work examines how the modern age, with its emphasis on technical rationality, has enabled a new and dangerous form of evil. 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 affairs, 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 the face of this indisputable danger, this book seeks to 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.

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Editorial Reviews

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.
From the Publisher

"Broad ranging in its scholarship, this book offers insights about how to think organizationally as well as individually about ethics and the ever-present possibility of evil manifesting itself in public life. Guy Adams and Danny Balfour throw new light on numerous examples of administrative evil, from the administration of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany to the post-war U.S. space program and the development of a bureaucratic culture that contributed to the Challenger explosion." -- Bruce Jennings, Director of Bioethics, Center for Humans & Nature

"This is not a safe nor a comfortable book, but it is a difficult one to ignore or neglect. The authors provide nothing less than moral and intellectual coherence for a series of powerful, but disparate, critiques of the field of public administration. They accomplish this feat with vivid writing and great economy, while also leading the reader to grapple with a credible alternative approach to today's dominant models of how government does and should work." -- William M. Sullivan, Wabash College

"Unmasking Administrative Evil is a troubling book, but a very important one that is essential reading. Using the Holocaust as "the signal event in human history that unmasks the reality of administrative evil," the authors illuminate the very real problem of how contemporary administrative arrangements can and do mask evil. Guy Adams and Danny Balfour are to be congratulated for this pathbreaking, fascinating, highly readable, and convincing study. We will all be much better off if the public administration community takes it to heart." -- David H. Rosenbloom, American University

"Adams and Balfour have proved a well-crafted study on the 'other side' of administrative ethics. Scholars have been so preoccupied with trying to understand what 'good' we are trying to motivate that we have often forgotten what evil we are trying to prevent. Looking at the underside of ethics, the authors provide us with a far richer and more meaningful understanding of why the study of public administration ethics is so important." -- Stuart C. Gilman, Global Integrity Group

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765623300
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 7/15/2009
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Guy B. Adams is Professor Emeritus in the Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri, USA.

Danny L. Balfour is Professor in the School of Public and Nonprofit Administration and a faculty fellow of the Honors College at Grand Valley State University, USA.

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Table of Contents

Foreword to the Revised Edition
Foreword to the First Edition
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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