The Downfall of Bernadine Healy

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The Downfall of Bernadine Healy

By | December 2012
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The Downfall of Bernadine Healy

When Bernadine Healy was chosen to succeed Elizabeth Dole as president of the Red Cross she joined an organization rich in history. She had strong credentials to her name as the former head of the National Institutes of Health, a Harvard Medical School graduate, and as the dean of the Ohio Medical School. Yet this brilliant professional was forced to resign as president of the Red Cross after less than two years with the organization. Her downfall within this organization can be attributed to bureaucratic elements within the Red Cross and a perceived lack of public service motives.

The Red Cross has a long tradition of public service dating back to the 1800s. This organization was originally the American branch of the International Red Cross. It was officially chartered by Congress as the American Red Cross in 1900 but a new congressional charter in 1905 is what led to its current bureaucratic state. The 1905 charter made the American Red Cross into a quasi-governmental agency. Its growth over the next century would make it "America's premier, nonprofit disaster-relief organization with much of its work accomplished through volunteers in its 1034 local chapters across the United States" (Stillman, 2010). Though its original mission was to assist wounded soldiers on the battlefield the Red Cross has since branched out into multiple branches of service. As this organization grew it gave way to several bureaucratic elements.

The Red Cross most certainly has a division or power and hierarchical order which are considered to be two of the most important attributes in Weber's concept of bureaucracy. Not only is the Red Cross divided into geographical regions but it is also divided into 6 distinct services divisions. Aside from the hierarchy within its divisions the American Red Cross is overseen by a president and a 50-member Board of Governors. Yet this organization lacks a true set of impersonal rules. There is no true set of...

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