The Forest Ranger: Book Review

700 Words3 Pages

Caleb Roberts
POLS 660A
Book Review 2
The Forest Ranger: A Study in Administrative Behavior This review is a study of the central points and arguments the book intends to make as I understood them to be. Herbert Kaufman’s book, The Forest Ranger: A Study in Administrative Behavior, is a study of bureaucracy, in particular, the United States Forest Service (USFS) during the late 1950s. Kaufman 's analyses are through a political science lens, in researching the leadership and organizational theory of the USFS. He discovers this government agency consistently achieves the cooperation of officers and administrators within its organization. Kaufman’s states his argument, “The Forest Service has enjoyed a substantial degree of success …show more content…

His research includes important insights about how directives are interpreted by Forest Service administration. In supporting his argument in regards to the effective organizational structure of the USFS, Kaufman emphasizes several key components that contribute to its success. He points to the Park District Rangers who were given a great deal of autonomy in the agency 's decision-making process. This is the first of several important aspects of the organizational structure that the book talks about. The USFS decentralized much the responsibilities and authority to the District Rangers. This was done for three reasons:
Technology, most of the ranger districts were seen as isolated geographically.
Sociological isolation.
Organizational culture, the district ranger was the boss or leader of his …show more content…

The organizational structure of the USFS is to build employee identification with the organization in addition to and training recruitment. They have distinct uniforms that identify them as Rangers and are unique and different from other public services. Transferring is encouraged to broaden the outlook of ranger and promotions usually only happen by accepting a transfer. Kaufman points to the Rangers early years when he states, “he never has time to sink roots in the communities in which he sojourns so briefly… Only one thing gives any continuity, any structure, to his otherwise fluid world: The Service… Thus, the Forest Service acquires a more or less fraternal aura for its newer members.” ( p. 178) The practice of promoting from within the organization means that higher ranked officers have experienced the same challenges as their subordinates. In addition, promotions are on merit, as seen by superior officers, this is done to motivate subordinates to follow the structure within the organization. The chain of command, having a paramilitary structure, and identity, all contribute to the fraternity nature of the ranger. All are valid points that support Kaufman’s argument of compliance within the organizational structure of the USFS. However, he uses such a high-level political science approach at times it is difficult to understand the points he attempts

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