Teaching Case - Improper Advances: Nixon, Ehrlichman and the Secretary of the Army

Improper Advances: Nixon, Ehrlichman and the Secretary of the Army


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  • Product Description

    In 1972 the Nixon White House quietly threatened to block all army promotions unless the army agreed to promote an officer who had been passed over by the promotion board. This case examines the dilemma faced by Brigadier General Dewitt Smith, chairman of the army's board of promotions, in deciding how to respond to the White House threat. It describes board members' reactions to the initial pressure from the White House to promote its candidate, their decision that he did not merit advancement, and the subsequent threat from the White House to block promotions. The case concludes with Smith considering his response and the effect it was likely to have on the army.

    Learning Objective:
    This case may be used as a vehicle to discuss the sometimes conflicting loyalties to one's boss, one's peers, one's subordinates, and oneself. To whom is Smith finally accountable? How does a public manager deal with decisions made by superiors which s/he may feel are incorrect? Are there alternatives to just "following orders"? Where does one draw the line?

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: January 01, 1983
    HKS Case Number: 511.0
    Case Author: David Kennedy
    Faculty Lead: Dan H. Fenn
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 5
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    _year: Older than 2000
    _pages: 1-15
    _geography: US & Canada
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