Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (MALA)


Liberal Arts

Document Type



The institutions that comprise the United States intelligence community have organizational cultures that are unique from other government agencies. These cultures encourage the development and retention of traits that are necessary to mission accomplishment, yet these exclusivities also hamstring organizations and may contribute to significant security failures. This thesis isolates elements of organizational culture that are specific to the United States intelligence community and explores the extent to which the culture is responsible for security and/or counterintelligence shortcomings. The author selected three governmental organizations with intelligence collection and analysis functions; they include the Naval Investigative Service (NIS), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). These agencies demonstrate the intelligence community includes military (NIS), intelligence (CIA) and law enforcement (FBI) components with shared organizational traits. The author subsequently identified a significant security failure case encountered by each agency and employed a case study approach to determine the extent to which the agencies’ organizational cultures contributed to the security failures. Internal agency investigations and external assessments of espionage activities reveal cultural factors impede the early detection of security compromises and thwart law enforcement efforts to investigate suspicious behavior. Despite the deleterious effects of national security collapses, the intelligence community’s personnel increasingly recognize the complicity of organizational culture in such security failures. The intelligence community increasingly analyzes the negative aspects of its organizational traits, and there have been substantive strides within the intelligence establishment to minimize the security obstacles that organizational culture imposes on its constituent adherents. The intelligence apparatus must maintain an organizational culture that distinguishes it from other government agencies. Unfortunately, the community’s cultural characteristics also convey increased risks of security compromises. It is possible, however, for the United States intelligence community to maintain its unique organizational culture and simultaneously minimize the possibility of operational or security failure.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Richard D. White