Rethinking Scientific Management
The U.S. Forest Service was founded early in the twentieth century with the progressive mission to achieve the scientific management of the forests of the United States. Scientific management was in part a political theory, holding out a model by which social values and technical considerations should function separately in the political process. However, since the 1970s the autonomy of Forest Service professionals to manage the national forests has been undermined by judicial decisions, White House and other executive branch oversight, and routine Congressional interference. Ecological management is a new attempt in the 1990s to revive scientific management but it is not likely to be any more successful than previous efforts. Instead, a new governing paradigm is needed for the national forests. This new vision is likely to involve a turn towards greater decentralization of governing responsibility than is prescribed by the scientific management model.
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