Case #1896.0

The Turnaround Artist: Craig Coy Tackles Political Influence at Massport

Publication Date: November 24, 2008
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Craig Coy, a business executive, retired Coast Guard officer, and former White House security adviser, was named executive director of the Massachusett's Port Authority, or Massport, on April 11, 2002. The appointment came at a time of significant turmoil at Massport, the state authority responsible for managing Boston's Logan International Airport and several other regional transportation resources. The two airline jets hijacked in the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001 had departed from Logan. Massport had not been responsible for the security practices that had allowed the terrorists to board the jetliners with weapons, but the authority had, in recent years, repeatedly come under fire for political excesses and patronage. These long-tolerated vagaries when vaulted into the national spotlight suddenly appeared tawdry and intolerable to state officials and lawmakers. Coy's mandate, when hired a few months later, was to stop the excesses of the past, to improve safety and security, to run the Authority in businesslike fashionin sum, to effect a cultural turnaround. The case takes a comprehensive look at Coy's approach. He immediately focused the authority on a major, challenging initiative; instituted a number of classic business reforms; and drew a sharp line in the sand with respect to political favors. Coy also had to confront some of his own assumptions about what it meant to act in Massport's best interests. Was it always best to leave politics at the door? This was Coy's impulse. But in certain situations, he reluctantly came to accept that a more complex stance was required.

Learning Objective:
Readers take this journey with Coy, and can decide for themselves what they think of his overall approach and individual choices, and to consider whether his reforms were likely to stand the test of time.

Other Details

Case Author:
Pamela Varley
Faculty Lead:
Roger Porter
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
Robert G. Wilmers Local & State Government Case Studies Fund