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Executives and Chiefs of State

MILLIONS OF AMERICANS will recall that their first formal lesson in American government taught them that the people elect the legislatures, the legislatures make the laws, the executives carry out the law, and the judges interpret the law. The reason why Americans learn this sequence is that for two centuries American politicians and theorists have aimed at separating the powers of the government into several branches. But we have already been prepared by our previous chapters for another fact, less simple, but far more realistic: legislative powers fade into the executive powers, and the executive powers fade into administrative powers. This fact, perhaps not immediately apparent if we concentrate only on American institutions, becomes evident as soon as we observe the principal executives of other countries. For there, often, the same persons both make and execute the laws. In this chapter we shall examine this dual policy-making and policy-execution role of high executives. Furthermore, if we want to understand fully the differences between high executives, of whom there may be a number in a community, and the highest executive, the chief of state, we must extend our study to the peculiar political and psychological position of the chiefs of state and search the cultural settings from which they emerge. Such are the tasks of this chapter.

Functions of the Executive


Let us first describe the functions of important executives in the government. According to one common interpretation, an executive or administrator is one who carries out policies he did not determine. Given the goals to pursue, he sets out after them, be they the erection of a bridge, the winning of a war, or the delivery of the mails. However, we prefer to follow a recent American usage and distinguish between the executive and the administrator: The executive is one who participates in the determination of the most important policies of an organization of any type, and who also sets the general course for carrying out such policies. The administrator, on the other hand, is charged with less responsibility for making policies that determine the major actions of his organization and is given more responsibility for everyday results.

This distinction, although it is not precise, does allow us to visualize public officers as graded according to degrees of discretion. It allows us to focus our attention on that small group of officers in any organization who are political and administrative at the same time, that is, the executives. In the next chapter when we study the administrative establishment as a whole, we will focus on the majority of administrative officers whose work is more regularized by procedures.

Executives may be elected, appointed by elected officials, or appointed under the conditions of a permanent civil service. It is not the manner of selection for office that distinguishes the executive but the kind of work he does. (The manner of selection, however, does affect the kind of work he does, as we shall see.) Thus the American national executives include the President, several hundred important appointees of the president to cabinet, commissions, and departments, and perhaps, say, the four hundred civil servants who in 1950 were credited by the President and the Civil Service Commission with having the most important positions warranting the most pay. Almost, but not quite, Congress qualifies as a group of executives, for its members are often concerned with the general course of administration.


All executives perform broadly similar functions. The President of the United States, like the governors of the states or the Prime Minister of England, or the dictator of the Soviet Union, does many things in common with his subordinate executives and with all men who have headed large organizations. Luther Gulick has classified these common tasks of the executive, and his categories of important executive functions may be presented here: What is the work of the chief executive? What does he do? The answer is POSDCORB.

POSDCORB is, of course, a made-up word designed to call attention to the various functional elements of the work of a chief executive because "administration" and "management" have lost all specific content. POSDCORB is made up of the initials of and stands for the following activities:

PLANNING, that is working out in broad outline the things that need .to be done and the methods for doing them to accomplish the purpose set for the enterprise;

ORGANIZING, that is the establishment of the formal structure of authority through which work subdivisions are arranged, defined and coordinated for the defined objective;

STAFFING, that is the whole personnel function of bringing in and training the staff and maintaining favorable conditions of work;

DIRECTING, that is the continuous task of making decisions and embodying them in specific and general orders and instructions and serving as the leader of the enterprise;

CO-ORDINATING, that is the all-important duty of interrelating the various parts of the work;

REPORTING, that is keeping those to whom the executive is responsible informed as to what is going on, which thus includes keeping himself and his subordinates informed through records, research and inspections;

BUDGETING, with all that goes with budgeting in the form of fiscal planning, accounting and control. [1]


Dr. Gulick asserted that this pattern of work covered "each of the major activities and duties of any chief executive." His classification, however, brought this rueful complaint from Dr. Lewis Meriam: "The most important thing that has been omitted from that fascinating word POSDCORB is knowledge of a subject matter. You have to plan something, you have to organize something, you have to direct something . . . . Intimate knowledge of the subject matter with which an administrative agency is primarily concerned is indispensable to the effective, intelligent administration of that agency."

Therefore, we may add to the formula of POSDCORB the requirement of skill in the particular work being done. To the principles of administration, a man must join the principles of whatever applied science underlies his special work. The chief of a highway department, for example, should be well qualified in both administrative science and engineering. To use another example: in selecting a postmaster, there may be a choice between two men who have like qualifications (including their training in POSDCORB) except for their work experience. If the work experience of one of the men is more related to - the work of postmaster (for instance, he may already have done responsible work in the post office or in traffic management), it would be advisable to select him.

Unfortunately, reality is never so simple. At the very least, we might find that the work experience of both men has been equally related to the position. At the most (and this is true of most high appointments) we might find that the number of men in question is a dozen rather than two, the men have little in common to compare, the qualifications for the job are not precise, no applicant has had experience related to the job, and many motives other than the efficient performance of this particular job affect the final choice among the candidates.

We may be more specific on some of these points that so well reflect the character of political work. For every major appointment that a president, premier, governor, mayor, or agency head must make, a number of candidates appear with all sorts of credentials. If one of them happened to have had lengthy experience leading directly to the position at issue, the others are quick to indicate that he is probably narrow-minded about the role of that agency in the whole governmental picture. Routine experience ill befits the top executives, they would argue. And the science of vocational placement cannot answer their arguments in many cases, for, while it is possible to give the appropriate weight to technical experience in lower and middle managerial work, it is most difficult to do so in the top levels of management.


Furthermore, political power, as it was described in Volume 1, is most often the result of a precarious balancing of numerous and opposing cliques. The appointment of chiefs to departments, bureaus, and other positions resembles the process by which some primitive tribes select their war leaders-the heads of families and clans are consulted beforehand. Often the most important consideration is not technical efficiency, but rather the cementing of a clique or faction to the ruling confederation. It would be ludicrous to attempt to explain the odd assortment of persons who became chiefs of departments under Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, or other Presidents by reference solely to the occupational fitness of the appointees according to the Gulick-plus-Meriam formula.

His secretaries said of Lincoln that his first cabinet appointments sought to "combine the experience of Seward, the integrity of Chase, the popularity of Cameron; to hold the West with Bates, attract New England with Wells, please the Whigs through Smith and convince the Democrats through Blair." From such examples, it may be surmised that, if the sole determinants in selecting executives are to be a man's ability to fill Gulick's and Meriam's specifications, the whole political system of any country must undergo the most profound modifications. If a standard of specialized competence were used to measure the personnel at the head of the administrative establishment of any country, no government that could be called efficient would exist.

We conclude that "subject-matter knowledge" among top executives is whatever unique qualities are demanded of the occupant of a given position at a given time and is not defined according to any set professional specialization. We further conclude that high political executives may fit their positions well without being highly qualified in the functions of POSDCORB. We refer to our theory of leadership in Volume I, where the work group as a whole provides a sum total of leadership and where the individual leader himself may have few fixed qualities. Judging the fitness of the leader should involve judging how the leader fits his group, not whether he attains a certain score on a given number of qualities.


The general political problems or crises that disturb the top of the government also affect the executives farther down. The Soviet government might be expected to emphasize subject-matter specialization, at least for the second-level executives, since everyone is supposed to agree on politics. Yet Russia is no exception - the rule applies to socialist and capitalist countries alike. The second-level Soviet officials must be faithful and proven Communist Party members before all else. Dr. Louis Nemzer quotes a Party directive demanding that the party personnel officers (who control the high government executives) place "in the leading governmental, economic, cooperative and every other kind of post, those persons who understand the meaning and significance of Party directives, who in Comrade Stalin's words `are able honorably and conscientiously to execute these directives."' The "apolitical careless approach" in selecting men for promotion is attacked; the question -to be asked is whether "in the first place, by political standards, they deserve responsibility, and in the second place, by working standards, they are suitable for this kind of concrete work." Thus, in 1947, M. A. Suslov, for twenty years a Party official, but without any training in a field related to culture or communications, was appointed Director of the Department for Propaganda and Agitation. The strict control over subordinates by the chief executive (Stalin) seems to prevent the placement of subject-matter experts in top posts.


In fact, we might say that subject-matter specialists get closer to the top of the executive hierarchy the less stable the chief executive and his top executive team are. Under the pre-Hitlerian German Republic, high-ranking government officials below the cabinet level had been primarily subjectmatter specialists and did not play a very active role in politics; under Hitler, they became Nazis or were removed. The British Prime Minister has a much more tenacious grip over his policy-making executives, appointive and elective alike, than does the French Premier. But neither the British nor the French executive is as stable at the top as the Nazi and Soviet executive chiefs. Furthermore, neither the British nor the French high bureaucracy is as partisan or active as the totalitarian high officialdom; they are often specialists promoted through the ranks of their agencies.

In the United States, both the politically appointed (for example, a cabinet member) and the permanent executives (such as many bureau chiefs) are often inclined towards pursuing their own beliefs about government policy. Henry Morgenthau once remarked that the President was "as much a prisoner of his administration as he is master." Against the President's paramount role in foreign policy and in spite of having been appointed by the President, Secretary of the Navy Matthews in 1950 advocated the waging of a preventive war against Russia under certain conditions-a proposal basically in conflict with the administration's foreign policy at that time. Almost at the same time, General MacArthur was barely checked from voicing publicly a policy on Formosa differing from that of the President. Only months later, after several new incidents occurred, did the President, with the support of high-ranking appointed and career officials, Acheson, Marshall, Bradley, and Collins, relieve MacArthur of his command.

Hostility among cabinet members has beeen common in American presidential administrations. Washington's first term of office saw the epic feud of Hamilton and Jefferson. Truman's administration was marked by another struggle of two secretaries, Johnson and Acheson. Internal bickerings are typical of all American jurisdictions from the township to the federal government. Cities and counties directed by political bosses provide exceptions, but who will say that they are salutary ones?

A brief comparison of four countries named above, then, shows the following general facts. In Russia, the chief executive is almost absolute, and the executives are primarily political, secondarily subject-matter specialists. In England, the Prime Minister is very strong, and the executives are partly political and partly expert, with the influence of the political executives the stronger one. The American chief executive is less strong but otherwise resembles the British Prime Minister. In France, the Premier is weak, lacking control over his subexecutives to a marked extent, and the subexecutives are partly political and partly permanent, with the latter being more influential. One hesitates to make these statements, but our repertoire of concepts and comparative studies in political science grants us no more succinct and accurate statements, short of full-length case studies of each executive organization in turn.

Nor can one generalize about the consequences of each condition stated above. Under certain specified circumstances, too many and too complicated for treatment here, each works efficiently or inefficiently to produce certain desired consequences. But it is presently impossible to separate the structural features of the executive arrangement (mode of selection, tenure of office, and so on) from the personality of the incumbents, or from all the other social, technical, economic, and incidental factors that bring success to one national executive policy at one time and failure at another, or success to one government and the collapse of another government. Thus, commenting on the failure of both British and French policy to stop Hitler before 1939, Winston Churchill wrote: "The French Government, which was in ceaseless flux in the fascinating game of party politics, and the British Government, which aimed at the same vices by the opposite process of general agreement to keep things quiet, were equally incapable of any drastic or clear-cut action."

The Presidency: A Case Study


The intermingling of political and administrative tasks that characterizes the work of all high executives is particularly manifested in the case of a chief of state, who may be a president, a premier, or a strong king. Perhaps the clearest way to bring out initially the unique character of each office of chief of state is by examining intensively a single case. The American Presidency can be chosen. It has been the object of debate and dispassionate study for over a century and a half and therefore provides American political science its most complete case study of the chief executive. A brief discussion of the Presidency here will introduce its main features and illuminate the controversies surrounding it. We may see the President's role as having a triple task: expressive representation of the national community; political and legislative leadership; and administrative responsibility.

It should be understood clearly, throughout the discussion of the American Presidency and in the discussion of any high executive office, that the executive includes a man, an office, and a corps of assistants. The budget for the White House provides for several hundred office employees, apart from many housekeeping personnel and numerous personnel borrowed from other agencies. A large part of all the actions performed by the President are in reality prepared for him by his advisors; we speak of the President's budget, for example, meaning by this the product of scores of men who spend all their time preparing this massive and all-embracing fiscal document that will be presented to Congress as the President's responsibility. By forgetting sometimes that the Presidency includes hundreds of men, many of whom are of high rank and independent ideas, some people are likely to look upon the President as a completely free agent with fantastic powers of intervention in thousands of matters.


The authors of the American Constitution were aware that, no matter what the single national executive's powers might be, he would stand for the nation as a whole and attract more attention than any other politician in the land. They were substantially correct. Even Presidents like Jefferson and Jackson, who championed state and sectional interests, found that their very attacks against nationalists strengthened their own office of President and made it a symbol of popular protest. The symbol itself was "nationalist" and contributed to the growth of presidential influence.

The dullest President becomes a universal spectacle and commands the attention of the press, radio, television, and newsreels without effort. The health of the President is the subject of gossip and magazine articles. His private life and family are matters of public concern and controversy. The Vice President, whose very name is unknown to many Americans, becomes overnight a national figure upon the death of the President. Even the greatest Congressman has a shorter mourner's bench than the weakest President. Schoolboys learn American history by relating events to the administrations of the presidents, even though Congress might have been much stronger at certain times and although the speaker of the House of Representatives might have been the more powerful officer for decades. They are told that they may grow up to be President, not a member of Congress or the Speaker of the House.

The President, therefore, like the commanding general of an army, the head of a church, or the president of a corporation, has a tremendous latent power. His smallest deed may be magnified in importance. Every slight legal authority granted him under the original Constitution has grown to vast proportions. Each slight increment of power newly granted him is likelv to shoot up like Iowa corn in July.


Although a presidential candidate is often relatively unknown before becoming a candidate, once nominated he becomes the party leader and director of party strategy. As the leader of a party organization, even though it is rather undisciplined, he can publicize his ideas of government and influence party leaders.

Once elected, he acquires even more power within his party. He approves official statements of party policy and appoints (with the consent of the Senate) a large number of important officials. He commands a host of offices and favors; he can reward his friends and punish his political enemies by abetting or restraining their political and personal ambitions.

He lacks complete control over legislation and offices, however, because of the strength and independence of the Congress and courts. Unlike the British Prime Minister, he cannot force the legislators to stand for a new election if a majority of them reject one of his important policies.

The legislative powers of the President, although they derive much of the strength from the psychological and party position of the Chief Executive, emanate mostly from original grants under the Constitution. These powers have grown with the political successes of certain presidents, with the help of interpretations of the Constitution by the courts, and with unforeseen changes in social conditions that required greater activity on the part of the executive branch of the government.


The Constitution gives the President the power to recommend to Congress "such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." It is now definitely recognized that the power to recommend measures to the Congress includes the power to recommend drafted bills and to request insistently that they be enacted into law with little change. Woodrow Wilson was astute in developing this specific, rather than general, approach to the power of recommendation. Franklin D. Roosevelt employed the same technique, and Harry S. Truman followed suit.


A second specific power granted the President is the veto power. The President may refuse to sign a bill, sending it back to Congress with a notice of disapproval. Then two-thirds of each house is required to override the veto. Or the President may give a bill a "pocket veto" by not acting on it if it comes to his desk during the last ten days of a Congressional session. The veto has changed from a mere constitutional check in the system of checks and balances to a positive agency of legislation. Probably the veto was not regarded generally as a legislative power in the beginning. The Constitution states that legislative power shall be vested in the Congress, and, as Jefferson stated, the negative of the President is the shield provided by the Constitution for the President to protect himself against invasion by the legislature. Furthermore, Washington declared, "From motives of respect to the legislature, I give my signature to many bills with which my judgment is at variance."

Jackson was the first President to advance the theory that the President, as a representative of the whole people, could intervene positively in the legislative process through the veto to further his ideas of good and bad legislation. Even though the veto had been used only ten times before, he inflicted twelve resounding vetoes on Congress and aroused a furious controversy. The Jacksonian usage continued, however. Cleveland was responsible for 584 vetoes, Theodore Roosevelt 82, Woodrow Wilson 44, Calvin Coolidge 50, Franklin Roosevelt 631, Truman 250, and Eisenhower 157.

Thus the veto is now commonly used in a positive way. Presidents use it to express their opinion that a bill is unconstitutional and to protect the executive branch from the legislature's "encroachment." In addition, it is used to oppose Congressional action that is against Presidential policy. Bills disagreeable to the President are often vetoed. The veto is threatened sometimes and then employed when Congress refuses to add "proper" amendments to a bill or to pass it in the form approved by the President. The veto usually ends a bill's chance of success. Two-thirds of both houses are necessary to override a veto, and less than one out of twenty vetoes has been thus passed over.


A third sphere of legislative power available to the President arises out of his role in foreign relations. The Constitution specifically gives the President power, "by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties." This ostensibly legislative power was recognized as a break in the principle of the separation of powers, but it was justified because of the delicate and dangerous nature of foreign negotiations. Congress, with its many members, was thought to be too publicly exposed, too subject to local interests, and too little respected by foreign governments to be qualified for the task of treaty-making. Even so, the Senate was to participate to some extent, and Washington tried to use the Senate as a sort of council on foreign affairs. He found that the practice inconvenienced him, and succeeding presidents took the initiative in foreign affairs, approaching the Senate only when there was a document to be ratified. In many cases, the debate over ratification gave vent to much heated advice that had been repressed.

However, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt, Presidents have tended to consult the Senate or its leaders in advance about final negotiations on a treaty. The sad experience of Woodrow Wilson with certain recalcitrant Senators on the issue of the League of Nations had shown the advisability of this procedure. By calling in leading Senators, a President may foresee the fate of a proposed treaty or of a foreign policy before he has committed his country to a bargain with another nation. Since two-thirds of the Senate must approve a treaty and since the President's political party often lacks such a large majority, the new form of consultation has been associated with the development of the idea of a bipartisan foreign policy. Scarcely any treaty can be ratified unless a considerable number of Senators from both parties agree to it.

With the expanded role of the President in foreign affairs has come an increasing use of the executive agreement. The executive agreement is an arrangement between the President and a foreign state. If it does not conflict with other laws, it becomes the law of the land, enforceable in the courts, even though the Senate has not debated or approved it. It sometimes substitutes for a treaty when the ratification process would be fraught with difficulties or when some temporary arrangement with another country is desired. This is one of the wide "resulting" powers that the President has by virtue of his prominent role in foreign affairs. Neither the Constitution nor Congress may grant it explicitly, but it is upheld in practice by the belief of the courts that the President needs it to accomplish his broad mission in foreign affairs. And, in general, the courts construe the President's powers in foreign affairs liberally. Declared the Supreme Court in the case of United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation, the President's power in international relations is "very delicate, plenary, and exclusive-a power which does not require as a basis for its exercise an act of Congress."

Associated with his power in foreign affairs are the President's war powers. The President is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. He has the final responsibility for grand strategy. He disposes of all the military forces of the nation. The entire power of government in any occupied territory is legally subject to his command, though Congress may affect his control by refusing appropriations and in other ways.

Furthermore, although Congress has the power to declare war, the President has the greater power to make war. Lincoln, Polk, McKinley, Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry S. Truman all committed acts as Presidents that required Congress to declare or otherwise to approve a war. In emergencies occurring in foreign relations, the President is never stronger, Congress never weaker.


The President's role in foreign affairs may be distinguished from his domestic role. Congress is stronger in domestic affairs than in foreign affairs, although a Congress may from time to time modify the President's foreign program or even guide it. In both foreign and domestic affairs, the President has a general authority over what is usually thought of as the execution of the laws.

This general authority, however, is not easily definable in constitutional law or practice. For example, Congress determines within limits how the administrative establishment shall be organized, what functions shall be undertaken by the executive agencies, how much money shall be spent by each agency, and how funds are to be raised and disbursed. The legislative branch of the government, one can see, is the source of a great deal of administrative activity and may rule by indirection, so to speak.

However, when Congress attempts to tighten its hold on the administrative establishment, it can go only a limited distance in cutting down the President's request for money or the number of bureaus, in restricting the kind of personnel the President may hire, and in making agencies independent of the President. In part, Congress is restrained by the Constitution from interfering with the execution of the laws. It is restrained also by the hold that the President has over almost all individual executives and administrators. And, since the President has great political power, he seldom lacks friends in Congress to restrain that body from applying its fullest power against him. The President must, if he is to act at all freely, prevent Congress from uniting against him.

The American system of separation of powers, to the dismay of those who would have a neat allocation of powers, operates as a continual, shifting process in which no man or agency can hope for absolute victory or a completely reliable basis of support. Each day brings a new alignment, new bargains to be made, the need for fresh support from somewhere, in short, a search for temporary relief and alliances. We conclude, therefore, that the President as an executive acts with one eye cocked on Congressional reaction.


Despite the limitations that the Congress may seek to place upon his authority, the President's control over the executive establishment is impressive in scope and depth. He has much discretion in administering existing statutes. When especially concerned that a particular statute be enforced with rigor, the President, employing his numerous assistants and staff, will "ride herd" on the agency entrusted with the administration of the statute.

In other cases, the President may act to change the policies of the administrative establishment under powers granted him by the Constitution, rather than by Congress. Thus, President Truman pressed for a quickening of the pace at which the segregation of whites and Negroes was being abandoned by the armed forces; this he could do under his powers as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

The Congress has continually added to the Presidential discretion by statutes that delegate important powers to the President. Especially in legislation on economic matters, the public affairs to be regulated are often of a kind that prevents precise wording and timing. The President is authorized to perform such actions as to put controls into effect or withdraw them from effect, to include certain businesses or foreign countries within the scope of an act or to exclude them, or otherwise to act with considerable freedom over an extensive area and period of time.


Ordinarily, the President exercises his political and administrative influence as any important executive would. He issues verbal orders over the phone and in conference with his subordinates. He dictates memos and signs statements of policy or letters of command. Less frequent than the foregoing means of transmitting his will is the executive order. The executive order is a more formal type of command. Usually, the conditions under which an executive order must be issued are stated by the Congress in statutes. The number of executive orders has increased sharply over the past fifty years. Cleveland and McKinley issued about one a month, Hoover about twenty-one a month, and Franklin D. Roosevelt about twenty-four.


The President maintains control over the administrative establishment partly by virtue of his power of appointment and removal. Legislation has been passed forbidding the appointment and removal of most federal employees for political reasons. By law federal employees are appointed by examination and removed for reasons of inefficiency and immorality. Lacking the right to disturb the civil service for political reasons, the executive has little reason to introduce wholesale appointments and removals for any other reasons. Most administrators hold secure appointments, and the intermittent struggle between the President and Congress over appointment and removal centers about the higher executives who are not under civil service. Here Congress has had only limited success in preventing the President's free use of the removal power, although the Constitution gave the Senate some say over appointments. These higher executives whom the President appoints, including especially his cabinet members, extend his range of influence over the government enormously. By the single act of appointing a loyal and sympathetic cabinet member, the President can extend his policies and desires to many important events that he could never become involved with in person.


Among the developments that increased the powers of the American Presidency in the last fifty years has been the Executive Budget. This type of budget is enacted by the Congress. But, under its terms, the President, rather than the legislature, prepares a single, annual statement of the proposed expenditures of the government and of the sources of revenue to meet the costs of government. He submits it to the legislature, which consigns it to committee for discussion and proposals of changes. The committees and subcommittees make important suggestions. Congress then debates and changes the contents of the budget. The legislature finally passes the budget as a series of bills and sends them to the President for his signature.

The executive branches of many states and localities follow generally the form of the American executive branch, but some follow budgetary methods more typical of the past, when the legislatures, city councils, and county boards prepared budgets as they pleased, regardless of executive desires. In England, by contrast with America, the budget is almost entirely controlled by the cabinet and Treasury, that is, by the executive. Rarely will an estimate be changed by individual members or blocs of members; the price of any significant change may well be that the Prime Minister will ask for the dissolution of Parliament and the holding of new elections. The Commons' role is thus only that of a critic.

The American Congress is much more powerful on fiscal matters than the Commons considered apart from the cabinet. The congressional leaders especially are in a position to cut or add items to the estimates, to favor certain departments or bureaus over others, and to adjust the total budget closer to their own policies. Still, the President, in relation to Congress, is much stronger than he once was. The budget is a gigantic mass of calculations and figures. His subordinates set them up. Congress can hardly destroy the bulk of their form and content.


A new kind of important instrument-derived from the executive order idea and just now coming into some prominence-is the executive order founded on a legislative declaration and subject to a legislative veto. The new kind of executive order and legislative veto power has been employed in reorganizing the administrative establishment, and has also been used partially or wholly in a few other cases. Congress sets forth general principles for the organization of the government and allows the President to issue orders reorganizing the various agencies in order to save the time and energies of Congress, and to prevent all administrative reorganization from foundering on the rocks of political obstinacy. Then unless Congress specifically disallows the changes, they go into effect. Although used primarily to increase the internal efficiency of the government, the same scheme might be used in the future to deal with many governmental activities that regulate industry or provide services.

Top Executive Structures


The first section of this chapter described the major typical functions of executives, illustrating the mingling of political and administrative purposes in the operations of government executives. The second section showed how the American President, as a chief of state, performs a triple task of expressive representation, political leadership, and executive management. We may now ask two broader questions: What are the cultural origins of the institution of chief executive and how are the different types of top executive organization shaped by the political conditions of a society?


Chief executives of large organizations are almost always single, rather than a group of men. The fact is so commonly known that its massive significance is often ignored. Not only armies and business enterprises, but almost. all the governments of history, have been headed by individual men. Forms of government that were called or could be classified as oligarchies or democracies have been exceptional in number and duration, and a great many, even of these, possessed chief executives. Thus the Roman Republic, though sometimes an oligarchy and sometimes a democracy, had consuls and dictators as symbols of central authority much of the time.

One must conclude that two principal reasons lie behind the constant figure of the chief of state in history. The office of a chief executive has great psychological appeal; he is a symbol of national unity. In addition, a single-headed organization tends to increase the possibility of controlling the organization from the top and so tends to increase the efficiency of the organization in implementing the policies of the ultimate leaders or the chief himself.

The psychological position of a chief executive is stronger than that of a council of executives, under most conditions, because a single chief seems to represent more adequately the sought-for-unity and .the total group interest among members of an organization. The chief provides, more than a council could, the impression of strength and single-mindedness that many people in an organization desire. He furnishes the mass of members in an organization with a target for blame and affection-arousing in some of them a feeling of relationship like that between the father and children in a family. Some people feel more secure, more at home in the larger world of their occupation, church, or government, when they can perceive a single object of responsibility for political affairs that is reminiscent of their dependent relationship in their childhood family group.

Probably more important than the psychological strength of the single chief executive is the controlling strength that the use of a single executive fosters. The chain of control, command, and responsibility is sharper and more understandable between a single chief executive and single subordinate executives at the head of each suborganization than it is among councils of executives from top to bottom. Therefore, whenever in the history of an organization stronger controls over, and greater productive pressures on, the whole group are desired, the single executive is given greater powers or single executives are substituted in various ways for executive councils, commissions, or boards.


It is noteworthy that the apparatus of public administration has developed from the person of kings, rather than from legislatures or assemblies. In a remarkable study, Kings and Councillors, Professor A. M. Hocart has pointed out that primitive kings had councillors and servants who performed personal services for them. When the functions of a kingdom were expanded by war, the increased wealth of the community, or peaceable growth, the king's servitors added new jobs to their previous, traditional ones. While continuing to groom the king's horse, manage his household, transport and guard his wardrobe, and attend him at meals, they also began to collect regular taxes, maintain roads, supply armies, and perform other broad administrative functions that would be recognizable as such today.

Thus administration in early kingships grew out of the tasks of personal servants of the king. T. F. Tout, in a scholarly, matter-of-fact study, Chapters in the Administrative History of Medieval England, relates the story of the gradual development of the "King's Wardrobe" from a valued privilege of serving the king's person, to the provisioner of armies and custodian of royal domains. In England, says Hocart, the origin of the great administrative establishments of today may be perceived on certain ceremonial occasions in archaic names, quaint customs, and unusual duties incumbent upon certain ancient offices. British administration is still performed in the name of the Crown, although it is controlled by the active executive, the Prime Minister, rather than the expressive or titular executive, the king.


But one may ask: Were not all these magical factors and historical anachronisms swept away by the great revolutions of the last two centuries? The answer is that the historical continuity of administrative development was broken, but not the principle of the single-headed executive. RevolutionsAmerican, French, Russian, Nazi--did not destroy the inherent strength of the principle of the single-headed executive in providing psychological unity and ease of control over the administrative establishment. The revolutions in question, with the exception of the Nazi, did attempt to destroy the single executive. But after the "directorate" periods, lasting a few years in each case, the position of the chief executive was reinforced. If we could reduce such events to a graph, they would perhaps appear as in Figure 3. The psychological forces that support the executive in American state and national governments, for example, have persisted and increased, overcoming the revolutionary antipathies. Napoleon Bonaparte replaced the French Directorate, and Joseph-Barthelemy has written that "the outlines of French administration are still those of Napoleon. The Emperor fashioned his institution in such a way that his sovereign will should be felt without delay or hindrance at every point of France, and in 1875 this edifice was crowned by parliamentary democracy." Lenin became the master of the top executive councils of the Communist Party and the Soviet Government; the executive organs remained plural-headed in form rather than in fact.




The particular organization of the executive changed from monarchy to dictatorship or republic. The new revolutionary institutions simply lost a large part of their direct and obvious connections with the past institutions. They seemed to be of a different "qualitative" order, as the modern "thinking machines" seem to be of a different order than the ancient abacus counters. A word on the Fascist and Nazi revolutions, that constituted exceptions to the temporary "directorate" period noted above, may be in order. Both these revolutions were regarded as "conservative" revolutions, not as "liberal" or "radical" revolutions. They promised greater order, greater stability, greater leadership-in short, executive supremacyfrom the very start.


Several major types of organization of the chief executive of a government have been devised. The most significant of them have been employed in America, as that country has sought to "democratize" the executive. We may discuss briefly American experience with various executive structures and illustrate them by diagrams. The first diagram (Figure 4a) represents the type of executive most disliked by American and French revolutionaries. It is the autocracy. Commands emanate from the top of the pyramid and move downwards. As the unelected, uninfluenced executive moves, so moves the whole organization. The more complex and numerous the tasks of such a government, the larger the pyramid might be drawn (Figure 4 b, the totalitarian autocracy).

A second variety of executive arrangement experienced by the American colonists was the constituency-controlled executive (Figure 4c). The governor was elected instead of being appointed by the Crown. Still another arrangement known to the colonists was one in which the elected legislature supervised and controlled the executive (this may be called the legislature-controlled executive [Figure 4d]) . And the arrangement was also known whereby the executive was both legislature and constituency controlled (Figure 4e). But even this last variant displeased the colonists, so bitter had they become towards the very idea of a single executive.

All the new state constitutions drastically reduced the powers of the chief executive. (There had been many proposals to abolish the governorship entirely.) In several cases, the states strengthened the control of the legislature by allowing it (for the first time) to elect the governor. The United States during the Revolution and under the Articles of Confederation had no central executive figure. Committees of Congress were charged with overseeing the work of particular departments and acted as the executive chiefs. There occurred a kind of legislature-controlled pluralism in which the departments of the government operated independently under their executive committees. This type of executive arrangement is diagrammed in Figure 4f. Here the total executive authority is broken down and its fragments are entrusted to multiple executive direction in order to avoid the dangers of concentrated authority over the government as a whole and over the individual departments.



A few years later, in 1787, the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia and a great deal of discontent was expressed with the confederation type of executive management. Several members complained about its inefficiency. Others wanted more stability and direction. Gouverneur Morris thought that a President might represent better the whole nation than would any combination of local legislators. Alexander Hamilton emphasized the need for a custodian of the "national interest," and for greater efficiency in administration. It was pointed out that for foreign negotiations a single executive was an excellent symbol of the nation, far better than a little-known group of local legislators. But since nearly everyone feared or at least respected the tradition of fear of an "irresponsible" executive, a special election was provided for the President. Consequently, America acquired the legislatureconstituency controlled executive. The constituency was at first the electoral college, but quickly developed in effect into a constituency of all qualified electors. This arrangement (without the electoral college, see Figure 4e) spread quickly among the state governments.

As the government acquired new functions and as the executive establishment expanded, controversy arose over the staffing of the subexecutive. Some, like Andrew Jackson, thought that the principle of constituency control of the executive was being evaded because the subexecutives, that is, the administrators, were becoming permanent officials. The Jacksonians proposed a periodic turnover of almost all officers. Others thought it was less important to have the constituents control the less responsible officials than to insure the efficiency of such officials. They demanded a permanent bureaucracy based on merit, and wanted presidential influence to be stronger than legislative influence in the operation of the bureaucracy.

In defense of their position, the advocates of civil service reform who opposed Jacksonianism sometimes claimed that the dangers of autocracy might be better prevented by decentralizing the executive branch in the manner of Figure 4g. The chief executive, they said, might choose to arrange his subordinate offices go as to allow plenty of initiative to them. Thus the departments and bureaus might be freed of stringent executive autocracy. However, the problem of controlling these decentralized fragments was left unsettled.


To this day, none of these theories have satisfied the advocates of a unified general executive establishment under definite legislative and public control. Another theory exists, however, that, although it is not defended strongly in the literature, conceivably might be an answer to the question: What is the structure of democratic administration? This theory is presented in the formula (Figure 4h) that the executive establishment is to be decentralized; that it shall be controlled in part by the legislature with reference both to its chief and to its important decentralized fragments; and that it shall be controlled with reference to its chief by the general public and to its major fragments by the general and special publics concerned with or affected by them.

This last situation, as can be seen by an examination of the diagram, is a complex one. It requires a science of politics with great foresight and controls, a science that has never before been available. There exists a strong possibility that the techniques for making such an arrangement work to the general satisfaction of most political groups are not now available. But political theory can go so far as to say that this arrangement is a feasible way of conducting the public business; it is not a utopian scheme, its implementation would not be impossible.

In fact, studies by John Gaus, Herbert Simon, Charles Hardin, and E. Pendleton Herring show that the theory behind Figure 4h matches better than the theory behind Figure 4e the actual condition of administration in some American federal and many state agencies, although the law still holds to the latter theory. The increased participation of special interest groups in politics and administration has meant that persons and groups regulated by legislation and administration often help set the rules by which they are governed. The next chapter, on administration, presents further data on such consultation as we explore the total internal environment of large-scale organizations.

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