For my blog post for the short week due to Independence Day, I would like to discuss leader/follower relationships as I felt like there was a good number of examples available in the three work days leading into the holiday weekend. Specifically, I would like to address the way work is structured, the way that work is directed, and the way the decisions are made.
First, I have noticed that the “Centers” that FDD is divided into are much more loose and fluid than the marketing material provided on the website might suggest. For example, I am the only intern assigned to the Center on Economic and Financial Power and the only other people I know that work in said center with me are my direct supervisor and what I guess could be called my mentor. As technically one-third of FDD, it seems odd that only three people be part of the CEFP at any given time. That being said, as FDD is a nonprofit, they are not required by law to pay their interns and, as a result, seem to rely on an army of interns across the organization at relatively high levels as a form of cheap labor. Thus, combined with what appears to be very small teams that often work very independently of each other, FDD has a very decentralized structure that is loosely categorized into three larger frameworks.
Next, as a result of these very small teams that operate very independently, in general employees are very autonomous although interns are less so. My mentor, for example, cofounded an outside company that advises banks and corporations on compliance issues regarding sanctions and banking regulations, so he is rarely actually in the FDD office. The founder of FDD is so often absent that his office is usually a small conference room used by other employees. Therefore, many of the lower-level employees and smaller group leaders have tons of leeway to pursue their own projects and their own research without much pressure or direction from the upper management. Interns, as a pretty vital part of those smaller groups, often end up with pretty directed tasks, however.
Finally, similar to the previous paragraph, decisions regarding what gets published, who goes on cable news as a call-in guest, and what events get hosted are often made on a pretty individual or small group basis. Therefore, an event that might be months in the making for one group or center of the office is just a nuisance or an opportunity for free food for the other groups and centers. Since the advent of the internet and the minuscule cost of electronic publishing, the main output of think-tanks like FDD (white papers) can be created and distributed with relative ease and minimal requirement for extensive approval processes and editing staffs. Thus, most decisions on what gets published or not is up to people very close to the actual work being published if not the producer themselves.