Early Leader Effects on the Process of Institutionalization Through Cultural Embedding: The Cases of William J. Donovan, Allen W. Dulles, and J. Edgar Hoover

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Virginia Tech


This study examines the ways early leaders can influence the process of institutionalization in public organizations. Using Schein's (1983, 1991) model of cultural creation and embedding as a heuristic device, secondary historical sources detailing the creation and development of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the careers of three significant leaders are used to understand the institutionalizing effects of those leaders, how they created those effects, and what happened to those effects over time. The case studies of William Donovan and Allen Dulles at CIA and J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI, provide evidence that these early leaders explicitly and implicitly used several of the cultural creation and embedding mechanisms identified by Schein to entrench their beliefs and predispositions into their organizations. These ensconced attitudes and tendencies seemingly played significant roles in the institutionalization of beliefs, rules, and roles that have developed, persisted, and affected the historical evolution of both CIA and the FBI.



cultural embedding, J. Edgar Hoover, organizational culture, Allen W. Dulles, institutionalization, William J. Donovan, FBI, CIA