Bureaucracy Does Its Thing

Institutional Constraints on U.S.-GVN Performance in Vietnam

by Robert W. Komer


Full Document

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 6.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Summary Only

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.3 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback199 pages $35.00 $28.00 20% Web Discount

An analysis of the impact of institutional factors on the U.S./GVN response in Vietnam. Essentially both governments attempted to handle an atypical conflict situation by means of institutions designed for other purposes. Such constraints as institutional inertia — the inherent reluctance of organizations to change operational methods except slowly and incrementally — influenced not only the decisions made but what was actually done in the field. These constraints helped lead to

  1. an overly militarized response;
  2. diffusion of authority and fragmentation of command;
  3. hesitation to change the traditional relationship of civilian to military leadership; and
  4. agency reluctance to violate the conventional lines dividing responsibilities.

The conclusion is that atypical problems demand special solutions. Policymakers must be sure the institutions carrying out the policy can execute it as intended. Adequate follow-through machinery must exist at all levels, to force adaptation if necessary. Where the United States is supporting an enfeebled ally, effective means of stimulating optimum indigenous performance are essential.

The research described in this report was conducted for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.