About Dr. O

Studying and teaching about organizations is what I do as a professor of public management. My day job meshes nicely with my lifelong interest in chronic and critical organizational failures. Thus this blog. When I have something to say about any organization—private, public, non-profit, U.S. or elsewhere—that seems headed for the ditch, I’ll do it here.

Government 101–Federal Authority Limited

As this story relates, Trump’s sound and fury about stripping federal funds from police in “sanctuary cities”  hasn’t gone over well in court.  Chicago sued Attorney General Sessions on a variety of grounds, including the 10th Amendment’s reserving, for the states and the people, all powers not specifically granted by the Constitution to the federal government which, Chicago argues, includes micro-managing how local police treat people being questioned or held for a crime.  The judge has ruled that this argument, along with others advanced by Chicago (and by other cities in separate lawsuits), deserves to be heard.  So, Presidential threats wither again under court scrutiny as this punitive policy is put on hold. Stay tuned.

Incentive for Extortion

Attorney General Sessions wants a return to the federal asset seizure standards that encouraged local law enforcement agencies to summarily seize property from individuals, often simply on the suspicion that the property had been associated with a federal crime.  The perverse incentive? Budget-starved local agencies got to keep most of what they seized, often regardless of whether a federal prosecution ensued, or succeeded.  So agency enforcement decisions in a number of jurisdictions started prioritizing the value of assets in play over the severity of the alleged underlying crime, seizing, for instance, the homes of parents of teenage sons arrested for selling small amounts of marijuana.  Back to the future, says Sessions.

College a Crap-Shoot?

This article disputes how much colleges are responsible for the return on investment (ROI) graduates earn over the course of their careers as a result of the money and time spent earning their degrees.   I expect my student readers will be paying closest attention here, so I encourage them to click into the embedded links, which are key to how the author is constructing his argument.

YOU Count More Than Your College

Was reading about college ROI (Return on Investment) this morning, starting with the ROI piece also posted here.  This article on the value of elite colleges caught my eye because it fits my 50 years’ experience at low tuition City University of New York: Motivated, hard-working students “make it” in their careers.  I base this mostly on my John Jay College of Criminal Justice students over 3+ decades. but also on my fellow business school alums from Baruch College who, despite decidedly lower income roots, match the career success rate of grads from elite business schools.

Corporate Chutzpah

To rescue us all from a depression in 2008, the government threw hundreds of billions in taxpayer funded life preservers to drowning financial firms that had steered hard into the mortgage securities iceberg.  Now the rescued are claiming they were robbed. Chutzpah!  That’s a Yiddish word translated most appropriately here as arrogant gall, such as Lizzie Borden might have displayed by begging for leniency and compensation on the grounds that the murder of her parents had left her a traumatized orphan.

Disney: Succession Done Right

Companies and non-profits can founder when CEO successions go badly–very often because a long-tenured CEO becomes an immovable object who ultimately only gives way to an irresistible force (such as death–J. Edgar Hoover; a board in revolt–ex-Disney head Michael Eisner; or a bureaucratic coup de grace–Admiral Hyman Rickover).  Disney seems to be getting it right this time, though the story refers to other companies that may be approaching an immovable object vs. irresistible force crossroads.

Not All Rosy in Pasadena

Pasadena, home of the Rose Parade nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains overlooking LA.  Home also of alleged embezzlement of $6.4 million missing dollars.  The suspected formula for embezzlement is to find an obscure budget fund that has been  financing little activity, position city employees in on the scheme as signatories on the fund’s purchases and payments,set up an outside firm to bill for bogus services and then direct the proceeds to conspirators.  A tried and true formula with a long history of ripping off  businesses, non-profits and government jurisdictions, all of whom learned the need for basic accounting controls the hard way.

Why College Takes So Long

The road to a degree is anything but smooth, this story says. The structural problem with public college systems is the extreme fragmentation, compounded by the autonomy so central to the faculty culture that dominates in academe’.  The fragmentation arises mainly from all but inevitable public policy choices over the years — politicians of all stripes benefited from the creation and expansion of local campuses.  Faculty autonomy, which rests upon individual professors “academic freedom” to pursue truth, has morphed into a collective privilege, where the faculty of Department X deems itself the final word on X education, which includes deeming as unworthy courses in the discipline from other colleges.  So students have to go around the bush again.