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Management and Planning at KBR
For organizations which operate on an enormous scale to develop infrastructure, engage international markets and contribute the capital to prodigiously expensive projects such as those contracted by national governments, decision-making and action are facilitated by a multi-layered bureaucratic structure. This makes spontaneity neither desired nor appropriate where strategic orientation is concerned. Instead, careful and rational planning is required to accommodate such massive public concerns as commodity speculation, military development and civil engineering. It is thus that strategic planning plays a key role in functional capacity of KBR, formerly known as Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root. KBR is largely recognized as one of the most resource-capable construction companies in the world.
KBR's identity is deeply tied to its roles in both the military development industries and civil engineering sectors -- fields themselves which are inextricably linked. Both are highly specialized industries in which the cost of entry may be prohibitively high, making failed or redirected projects markedly expensive. Therefore, an organization such KBR is an appropriate firm in such contexts for its abilities both to sustain such costs and to conduct the proper research to preempt any such needs. Accordingly, planning plays a key role in its fulfillment of responsibilities. So does its scale and scope. It is thus that managerial leadership and strategic orientation must be grounded in proven management theory. The profile provided hereafter on KBR will correlate this theory to the features specific to the company.
KBR's strategic orientation has centered on the notion of privatization of military objectives. Like many large companies in the energy industry, KBR's parent company, Halliburton is a major strategic cog in recent global military endeavors. Its no-bid gain of contracts for 'reconstruction' in the Iraq war effort would call into question the ethical trespasses in its cronyist relationship to the Bush Administration. Kellog Brown and Root (KBR) is a name which has become familiar to Americans in association with the war in Iraq because of its subsidiary status under the Halliburton parentage. Its role in the war and its history of personal intimacy with members of the administration would reflect an ethical conflict, beginning in 1992, when "former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney commissioned the firm to research (at a cost of $3.9 million) the privatization of U.S. Army logistics. KBR concluded that privatization would be much cheaper than allowing the armed forces to carry the task out themselves. Subsequently, Cheney granted the firm a contract to implement its own recommendations, mainly in overseas U.S. operations." (Speetjens, 2)
This decision, in turn, had direct impact on the United States' increasing role in the Middle East, where protection and reconstruction of oil refinement resources represented the most practical route to economic and political stability in the region. KBR was, due to its specialized proximity to the refinement industry -- its parent company and the energy concern Halliburton -- a relevant contractor to such initiatives. Due to both the temporal nature of Middle East conflict demands and the resource orientation inherent to said conflicts, it was rationally assessed that the standing U.S. army was not best suited to those responsibilities which were fitted to private contracts. The 1992 study would become a precedent and a prototype for the larger emphasis on privatization that Dick Cheney would bring to the White House as Vice-President in 2000.
From a management theory perspective, KBR's think tank division has produced the conclusion that it would be more effective from a distribution of labor perspective to divide military operations between traditional military personnel and Private Military Corps (PMCS). This reflects the Scientific Management Theory first explicated by Frederick Winslow Taylor. (Papesh, 1) As a manager at Bethlehem Steel during the 19th and early 20th century, Taylore began to observe the values in distributing labor according to performance indicators as a means to improving overall business functionality. In its embryonic stages, Scientific Management Theory began to show in Taylor's principled reconsideration of labor division. By beginning to designate tasks according to the individual strengths of laborers, by equipping the right laborers with the optimal supplies, by motivating workers with financial incentives relating to individual efficiency and by providing all workers and tasks with explicit guidelines to be induced during labor training periods, Taylor forever changed the face of industrial labor. In its own research KBR views the objectives of the military as subject to similar logic.
For instance, the success which private military contractors have had in pushing toward stability in Afghanistan was a proving ground for the cohesion of PMC's and the taxpayers' army. Forthcoming efforts in the war on terror would be informed accordingly. Speetjens would find that "one of the leading companies working with the U.S. Army is Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR), a subsidiary of oil giant Halliburton. It is said that wherever the U.S. Army goes KBR follows. After operations in Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Somalia and Afghanistan, the company today has some 7,000 employees in Iraq, who feed and transport soldiers, wash their clothes and build their barracks. . . Apart from offering military support services, thousands of civilians, most of whom have a military past, operate Predator spy planes, maintain B-2 Stealth bombers, de-mine, destroy enemy ammunition and, last but not least, protect individuals and companies active in the reconstruction of Iraq." (Speetjens, 1)
Planning and Operations:
In terms of planning and operations, the continued involvement of KBR in the Middle East has had a significant impact on its planning capacity and the dedication of its resources. KBR's presence has been absolutely essential to efforts in fighting the war in Afghanistan. Though the involvement of PMC's enabled troops on the ground in Afghanistan to achieve some degree of local stability, the outlying areas of the country on the mountainous borders of Pakistan continue to be a haven for terrorist activity. This demands continued presence in Afghanistan. This is in addition to a permanent presence which the United States has maintained in South Korea and a diminished but still active presence in Kosovo, the latter of which is an operation also still manned by KBR. As a result, the U.S. military has been spread somewhat thin with regard to overall manpower.
The lack of broad international support or a United Nations mandate in the lead-up to the war in Iraq magnified this circumstance by rendering the United States without the armed or financial assistance of many of its allies. This circumstance significantly raised the demand for extra-military assistance and, most particularly, an assistance provided by individuals that did not require extensive lead-time for training and those who were professionally suited to the demands which were specific to the war theater in question. The PMC's which were closely related to members of the current administration would play a central part in the invasion and reconstruction of Iraq, where today "there are more than15, 000 private military contractors." (Singer, 1)
In fact, the current war in Iraq is an illustration of the prevailing trend in the balance between military privatization and traditional military, placing a premium on the former and reducing the level of singular dependency upon the latter. It is of note that "10% of U.S. soldiers in Iraq are civilians, which is ten times more than during the Gulf war of 1991. This makes the invasion of Iraq, and its aftermath, the most privatized conflict in the last 250 years." (Speetjens, 1)
This is indicative of the ways in which cultural, socioeconomic and imperial principles tend to shift the structure of major military operations. As the world orients itself toward an era that bears the possibility of multiple international conflicts in concurrence with one another, the military strategies employed by the world's powers are adapting thusly, using PMC's in achieving all manner of tactical goal. Again, through its parent company and its close relationship with the former presidential administration, KBR would be directly invested in operations which retain a non-military personnel presence even today.
"In Iraq, for example, . . . they protect convoys and key installations, train the Iraqi police, paramilitary, and army, and also do mundane chores like feeding troops and fuelling vehicles. The biggest player in Iraq is Dick Cheney's scandal-plagued Halliburton firm, presently besieged by a series of accounting and overbilling gaffes, but there are also a number of UK-based companies. One is Global Risks, reported to have 100 former British SAS troopers, 500 former Nepalese Ghurkas and 500 ex-Fijian soldiers working on the ground in Iraq. This one company has the sixth largest troop contingent in the coalition." (Singer, 1)
Organizational Culture, Values and Ethics:
KBR's organizational culture is one which is one the mend. Based on the theoretical construct of Business Ethics, the official separation from Halliburton in 2007 would be an important point of divergence. This is because Halliburton's reputation has been sullied many times over for its behavior during and involvement with the Bush/Cheney Administration. Indeed, the parent company had been guilty of a litany of legal and ethical offenses…[continue]
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