NEMO: Addressing Organizational Turmoil and Malaise
This case is about a bureaucratic organization in flux. The government agency in charge of disaster management on the small island of St. Vincent in the Eastern Caribbean is suffering from external threats to its operations as a result of a loss of public confidence. The loss of public confidence is a reaction to the mismanagement of disaster response and relief efforts following a devastating hurricane. The Director (Ag), Ms. Ford, is unable, or unwilling, to rehabilitate the image of the agency in a way that satisfies the general population. A dissatisfied population has resulted in a decrease in public participation in the agency’s community organization and education programming. Both of these programs are essential for this small government agency to carryout its mission of helping people mitigate the effects of natural and man-made disasters.
In addition to the external threats to the organization’s operations, the agency is also plagued by internal strife. Several factors have contributed to creating inter-office tensions and a deeply divided staff under the current Director. A combination of inconsistent and unclear punishments and promotions, no systemized process for disseminating information, and a lack of professional autonomy has led to low staff morale with feelings of anger and bitterness. Further complicating the internal operations is the anticipated return of the former Director, Mr. King. With the upcoming transfer of power back to the former Director, the current Director has more incentive to focus on self-preservation than program improvements. Program staff now feels there is disconnect between their personal goals, the goals of the Director (Ag), and the agency’s mission.
The protagonist of the case, Mr. King, the former Director, finds himself returning to an organization in the midst of a crisis. Aiming to rebuild the capacity of an agency after a two-year absence, Mr. King must find the best way to manage the agency and the personnel through this transition phase. He must decide on the fate of the community organization and education programs and the best way to confront the inter-office personnel problems.