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Abstract: This case is part of a four part series that examines the merger of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Military Center at Bethesda--the most expensive, controversial and largest hospital merger in US history. The series includes: A case + A teaching note (Leadership of VADM Mateczun); B case + B teaching note (Army/Navy cultural issues); Epilogue (short conclusion); Film - award winning short documentary. The A case focuses on the leadership of Vice Admiral Dr. John Mateczun, a three-star Navy admiral who led the merger. Mateczun achieved what many considered to be a minor miracle--integrating Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval in the face of fierce institutional resistance. But in his drive to see the plan through, Mateczun stretched the limit of military authority, expended his political capital and alienated friends and colleagues. The case allows discussion of leadership styles and the importance of persuasion, negotiation, communication issues, and personal character. There are two companion cases and a 17-minute film. The film shows a brief history of the hospitals, explains the BRAC (Base Closure Commission), and shows the intensity and urgency of the medical needs of patients being cared for at Walter Reed during the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The B Case focuses on the difficulties of merging organizations with significant cultural differences. It may be taught together with the (A) case or on its own with the video. The short Epilogue looks at the outcome in 2014, 3 years after the merger. Case number 2035.0
Learning Objective: This case is about leading change in a highly bureaucratic environment and can facilitate discussion of: the introvert in a leadership role; organizational change; lines of authority - impact of ambiguous authority and areas of responsibility; institutional resistance to change; military "jointness"; challenges of leading major change during an ongoing crisis; consequences of having your "mentor" leave the organization, and challenges of merging different organizational cultures (B case).