CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

The CIA "Culture"

H - Z

Although it oversimplifies the application of a complex concept -- organizational culture -- to an organizationally and culturally complex organization -- the CIA -- the following comment by Turner, "CIA-FBI Non-Cooperation...," IJI&C 8.3:271/fn. 17, is a good starting point: The CIA is divided into "distinct segments that have developed unique cultures of their own. The Directorate of Operations (DO) has the most distinctive culture, representing the clandestine ethos. The Directorate of Intelligence (DI) has a culture infused with academic and intellectual perspectives. The Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T) has a 'techno-nerd' image, while the Directorate of Administration (DA) incorporates the culture predominating among support personnel. Each thinks it is the most important segment of the Agency, and each believes its culture to be the most sophisticated and essential to the mission of the CIA."

I can't resist noting as a former college faculty member and dean that by substituting college/university for "Agency" and "CIA," Turner's last sentence applies equally to the discipline-specific departments at an academic institution.

  Haines, Gerald K. "The CIA's Own Effort to Understand and Document Its Past: A Brief History of the CIA History Program, 1950-1995." Intelligence and National Security 12, no. 1 (Jan. 1997): 201-223.

Clark comment: Individuals with limited or narrow experience in the federal bureaucracy often make silly errors of emphasis in their comments on government activities. Haines stumbles in this way in what is overall a useful survey of the ups and downs of the CIA's effort to record its own history. It is not that he has gotten his facts wrong, but, rather, that he deploys them in ways that just miss the mark. His naivete shows in his first 10 words with a reference to "the vast CIA bureaucracy." As federal bureaucracies go, the CIA does not even qualify as "large," much less "vast." In addition, the author too often misjudges the motives of the Agency's top decision makers and has cast his net so narrowly that he does not even mention the name of Walter Pforzheimer.

Hastedt, Glenn. "CIA's Organizational Culture and the Problem of Reform." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 9, no. 3 (Fall 1996): 249-269.

Hastedt uses Michael Vlahos' four-generations concept to classify organizational cultures within the CIA: Paradigm-Builder, Paradigm-Extender, Paradigm-Mimicker, and Paradigm-Killer. Among his conclusions is the thought that what is needed "is the development of an alternative set of values and experiences to guide [the current generation's] efforts for change." In essence, the old cultural system needs to be "destroyed" and the foundation laid for a new one.

Clark comment: I applaud Professor Hastedt's effort to apply some of the tools of political science to the organizational life of the CIA. I just wish I better recognized in his analysis the organization in which I spent 25 years.

Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri. "The Socio-Educational Composition of the CIA Elite: A Statistical Note." Journal of American Studies 19, no. 1 (1985).

Osborne, Leutrell M., Sr. Black Man in the CIA: An Autobiography. [Temple, TX?]: Jongleur Music Book Publishing, 2012.

Peake, Studies 56.4 (Dec. 2012), notes that the author served in the CIA from 1957 to 1984, retiring as a Gs-12 operations officer. "Osborne views the Agency through an African-American's eyes and is candid in describing what his race meant to his career."

Ranelagh, John. "Through the Looking Glass: A Comparison of United States and United Kingdom Intelligence Cultures." In In the Name of Intelligence: Essays in Honor of Walter Pforzheimer, eds. Hayden B. Peake and Samuel Halpern, 411-443. Washington, DC: NIBC Press, 1994.

Thomas, Stafford T. "CIA Functional Diversity and the National Security Process." In The Vulnerable Labyrinth, ed. Stephen J. Cimbala. Ardsley on-Hudson, NY: Transnational, 1987.

Thomas, Stafford T. "The CIA's Bureaucratic Dimensions." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 12, no. 4 (Winter 1999): 399-413.

The author uses Anthony Downs' (Inside Bureaucracy [1994]) public administration models on organization behavior -- the varied personalities found in bureaus -- to look in mostly general terms at the CIA. The presentation is not uninteresting, but has only anecdotal evidence to support the generalities.

Thompson, Michael. "The Need for Integrity: Thoughts Provoked by The Very Best Men." Studies in Intelligence 39, no. 5 (1996): 25-34.

Ostensibly a review of Evan Thomas' book, this article is an excellent take (whether you agree or disagree with his conclusions) on the culture of the Directorate of Operations as seen by one former DO officer.

Troy, Thomas F. "Writing History in CIA: A Memoir of Frustration." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 7, no. 4 (Winter 1994): 397-411.

Marvelously told story of how the CIA bureaucracy handled Troy's biography of Donovan -- written on Agency time and with OTR support, but without the "official" sanction often given the book in reviews.

Turner, Michael A. "CIA-FBI Non-Cooperation: Cultural Trait or Bureaucratic Inertia?" International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 8, no. 3 (Fall 1995): 259-273.

"The CIA's culture ... alone does not account for the lack of interagency cooperation between the CIA and the FBI.... Additional causes are vested in the vagueness of the governing legislation and the bureaucratic inertia created by the historic separation of the two agencies." The bipartisan Presidential Commission "has the opportunity to affect the structural relationship between the CIA and the FBI in a positive way by addressing the legal ambiguities and promoting training in interagency cooperation." However, such changes will last "only if accompanied by steps to significantly affect the attitudes of key officials in each of the agencies."

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