Case #1748.0

A Letter to Professor Dutch Leonard

Publication Date: November 01, 2003
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This letter to a Kennedy School faculty member from a former student is a plea for advice about one of the most difficult dilemmas faced by public employees in a bureaucratic chain of command: what to do when one thinks a new boss is moving an organization in a dangerous and ill-advised new direction. This case focuses on the Education and Training Command of the "Department of Drugs and Crime Control," whose program for new drug control law enforcement officials, the letter writer believes, has been a proven success. A new director, however, signals that he wants to undertake a "Training Modernization Initiative" -- including, among other things, a shift from classroom-based learning to distance learning. The letter writer, who has devoted much of his career to developing the classroom-based approach, fears that the new boss is really most interested in saving money and is ignoring research about what sorts of training are most effective.

Learning Objective:
This is a "managing your boss" case to which public and private sector employees alike will relate. Ultimately, it transcends the specifics of the dispute and raises the question of conduct. Should the long-term employee simply drag his heels in implementing the new plan, knowing the new boss is likely to be at the helm for only two years at most? Should he complain to superiors? Once he makes clear his doubts to the new boss, as he does, should he simply accept the decision to proceed over his objections?

Other Details

Case Author:
Dan H. Fenn, Jr.
Faculty Lead:
Dan H. Fenn, Jr.
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States