Part IV focuses on research into organizational factors that affect the effectiveness of the intelligence community (IC) in its missions. All organizations face challenges, but the application of well-researched theories and practices can be of great benefit. The four chapters comprising this final section of the volume discuss some of the most significant organizational challenges to IC agencies: communications, accountability, workforce, and adaptation.
In Chapter 10, Baruch Fischhoff draws on decision science and communication research to characterize communications within the IC and between it and the clients for its analyses. He describes natural barriers to analysts’ understanding of clients’ analytical needs when formulating analyses, and to their assessments of how well clients have understood the conclusions and limitations of the resulting analyses. He shows the scientific foundations and methods for improved internal and external communication. For example, value-of-information analysis allows identification of information most important for clients’ decisions, and sensitivity analysis allows identification of the facts most valuable for understanding ongoing situations.
In Chapter 11, Philip E. Tetlock and Barbara A. Mellers note that the IC has faced recurrent demands for greater accountability, typically focused on high-profile errors, that can produce short-term shifts in error-avoidance priorities (“don’t make the last mistake”—be it a false positive or a false negative) without improving long-term forecasting accuracy. They also note that working analysts are often more accountable for following procedures than for accuracy (which is assumed to follow from adherence to the
procedures). Tetlock and Mellers show how, in other domains, research has documented the benefits and limitations to such practices, while focusing the feedback that is needed for improved accuracy. They show how the IC might close this critical knowledge gap.
In Chapter 12, Steve W. J. Kozlowski summarizes research relevant to how organizations acquire, build, and sustain effective workforces. He distinguishes their needs in acquiring human resources and building human capital, then identifies practices relevant to each. For the former, he stresses the demonstrated importance of having people with the right combinations of cognitive ability, personality, and values. For the latter, he stresses the training needed to provide people with mission-specific knowledge and skills (e.g., languages and country-specific knowledge). He also reports on research into creating effective performance incentives.
In Chapter 13, Amy Zegart addresses research on organizational change. She describes obstacles to adopting new practices in private sector firms and the special challenges that make adaptation even more difficult for intelligence agencies. She then considers research showing the crucial and often hidden importance of organizational structure for aggregating information and organizational learning. Next, she turns to political science, examining the limits of personal leadership and the power of harnessing individual incentives to foster change. Finally, she cautions against using much of the popular management literature as a guide for intelligence reform.