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date: 16 October 2019

Summary and Keywords

Organizational culture refers to the constellation of values, beliefs, identities, and artifacts that both shape and emerge from the interactions among the formal members of the US intelligence community. It is useful for understanding interagency cooperation and information sharing, institutional reform, leadership, intelligence failure, intelligence analysis, decision making, and intelligence theory. Organizational culture is also important in understanding the dynamics of US intelligence. There are four “levels” of, or “perspectives” on, organizational culture: vernacular and mundane organizational communication; strategic and reflective discourse; theoretical discourse; and metatheoretical discourse. Meanwhile, four overarching claims can be made about the intelligence studies literature in relation to organizational culture. First, explicit references to organizational culture within the literature do not appear until the 1970s. Second, studies of organizational culture usually critique “differentiation” among the subcultures of a single agency—most often the CIA or the FBI. Third, few intelligence scholars have provided audiences with opportunities to hear the voices of the men and women working inside these agencies. Finally, the majority of this literature views organizational culture from the dominant, managerial perspective. Ultimately, this literature evidences four themes that map to traditionally functionalist assumptions about organizational culture: (1) a differentiated or fragmented culture diminishes organizational effectiveness, while (2) an integrated or unified culture promotes effectiveness; (3) senior officials can and should determine organizational culture; and (4) the US intelligence community should model its culture after those found in private sector corporations or institutions such as law or medicine.

Keywords: organizational culture, US intelligence, intelligence studies, US intelligence community, organizational communication, theoretical discourse, metatheoretical discourse, reflective discourse

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