This analysis of The Office suggests that high-level execs "setup" low-level employees to get the outcome they want while dodging responsibility for it. To illustrate, he uses the example of sending Michael to investigate Prince Paper (which Michael does by pretending to be a customer and asking for references):
On the surface, this is a routine request to do some above-board competitive analysis. But by dangling the carrot of a better job and carefully refraining from specifying how the end is to be achieved (using abstractions like “fact-finding” and “fieldwork”), Wallace knows he can get Michael to do what he really wants done: industrial espionage. He engineers execution of his real intention (obtaining an unfair and illegal advantage over Prince Paper) using a predictable “failure” pattern in the execution of his declared intention (honest competition). He knows Michael can be relied on to try foul means, while letting him pretend that he only expected fair means to be used.
The whole series is an interesting read if you're an Office fan.