“American Underground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center” Case Study Byron D. Stanley
Governors State University
American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center is a prime example of many of the issues associated with the bureaucratic system and shines a light on the importance of informal groups within public administration. The September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon forever changed the lives of Americans. It also exposed the workings of informal groups and how powerfully they can respond when ignored. Especially in times of high emotion, it is essential that public administrators take into account organizational objectives as well as the impact their decision has on society to achieve a balanced success. The major informal groups this study will focus on include: Mayor Rudy Giuliani and other high-level administrators, firemen, policemen, and families of the victims. Although there were others involved, these groups had the most influence on the case. Also, due to the mass amount of death and the inherent comradery that exists amongst policemen and firemen ideally and within this case, it is vital that public administrators strongly consider the emotional impact of all decisions made in a situation of this magnitude.
On September 11, 2001, terrorist flew two planes into the World Trade Center buildings. After the buildings collapsed, over 3,000 Americans were killed and many additional bodies were trapped in the debris. This event had a profound effect on the lives of Americans and forever changed their outlook on the adverse effects of war. The main issue in this study involves the informal groups; specifically how they interacted with each other and their influence on public administration, especially clean-up initiatives. The clean-up was complicated by differing views on how it should have been carried out by the different groups.
About a month after the attacks on the World Trade Center, fighting occurred between two of the different groups at the site. Policemen felt that the firemen were deemed heroes even though many of them did not participate in helping rescue people from the World Trade Center. Firemen were especially angry due to losing many of their colleagues in the rescue efforts and this was only exasperated when a demonstration they orchestrated went awry and violence ensued. Firemen began a march on the clean-up site when they were denied full access to search for their lost colleagues. They were arrested by the policemen and charges were initially filed against them. Ironworkers took part in this demonstration on the side of the firemen and Mayor Giuliani ordered that they be identified and terminated due to their participation.
The firemen then demanded to meet with Giuliani and requested to include the family members of the fallen firemen. This meeting was eventually overcome with emotions and Giuliani earned many infamous names such as “Scoop and Dump” due to this meeting. As a result, Giuliani raised the search team to 75 workers per shift with no authority besides searching for the deceased. Mayor Giuliani and administrators from his administration met several times with affected parties to no avail and only seemed to make the situation at hand worse. Analysis
All of the informal groups involved in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center were reacting in a manner that seemed natural to their group. However, this manner depended wholly on what group an individual belonged to. The different emotions within each group caused issues with other groups involved. Policemen resented the idea that firefighters who were not involved in the rescue efforts were deemed heroes by society. Giuliani was resented by the families of the dead firemen because they felt he did not do enough to excavate their loved ones remains. These groups are viewed upon as a whole without...
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