Free to Fail

Free to Fail

Creative Destruction Revisited

Hugh van der Mandele and Arjen C. van Witteloostuijn

This challenging book tackles one of the most fundamental questions in economics: Why are commercial organizations more efficient than organizations in the public domain?

The Dutch affair or the destructive power of organizational warfare

Hugh van der Mandele and Arjen C. van Witteloostuijn

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies, strategic management, economics and finance, industrial organisation


The Germans occupied continental Western Europe in 1940. However difficult the outlook, Winston Churchill was never one to limit himself to defense, on the contrary. In this vein, in July 1940, the decision was made to develop an organization named ‘Special Operations Executive’ (SOE) ‘to set Europe ablaze’. Thus, the British intended to force the Germans to maintain more troops in the area than would otherwise have been necessary, but also sought to create havoc behind the German lines once the liberation of Europe started. Between March 1942 and May 1943, SOE dropped 52 Dutch agents into the Netherlands, many of them equipped with wireless transmitters. All agents were arrested, many of them the moment they landed on Dutch soil. Wireless traffic was faked by the Germans, under the competent leadership of Hermann Giskes and Joseph Schreieder. What made it possible for the game to continue for 15 months? There exist three hypotheses explaining the catastrophe.

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