Date of Award
Master of Public Policy and Management (PPM)
Public Policy and Management
Joseph McDonnell, PhD
structural organization, organizational theory, Brigade Combat Team, United States Army
This paper explores the U.S. Army’s force reorganization around the Brigade Combat Team (BCT), which began in 2002. The BCT shifted how various army units interacted by changing the echelon at which different types of units report to a single commander, essentially creating self-sufficient units of about 2,500 soldiers instead of the previous self-sufficient units of about 15,000 soldiers. This paper utilizes existing organizational theories and research to better understand the implications for such a dramatic change in organizational structure. It contextualizes the army’s reorganization by applying the Rational Actor, Political, and Bureaucratic Models outlined in Essence of Decision by Graham Allison and Philip Zelikow. These models help explain why the army found the restructuring necessary. In changing the organizational structure of the U.S. Army, some processes that existed prior to the BCT became less effective and arguably outdated, such as the army’s decision-making process and personnel management system. At the same time, the army instituted a new communications system which was designed to better integrate disparate units, but was also stymied by the outdated decision-making processes. After understanding these factors, this paper asserts that various new technologies have failed to meet their full potential within the BCT due to ongoing implications related to not satisfactorily adjusting decision-making, communications systems, and personnel management based on the BCT reorganization. These technologies include unmanned aerial vehicles, integrated communications networks, and a particular armored vehicle (known as the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle). This paper has implications for non-military organizations which have undergone or are examining the effects of structural reorganization.
Davis, Adam, "The Brigade Combat Team (BCT): A Revolution in Organizational Structure" (2020). Muskie School Capstones and Dissertations. 165.
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