May 14 - July 9, 1999
Fridays, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Downtown Plaza South Wing, Classroom C
Dr. Nancy Shulock
Sacramento Hall 226
The purpose of this course is to teach students about public organizations and the challenges facing contemporary public managers. We will learn about the evolution of the field of public administration, the way that public organizations differ from private organizations, how the "reinventing government" movement has affected public management and spawned counter-movements, how public managers interact with other actors and institutions in the political process and what is expected of effective public managers. There will be a specific focus on state and local government in California.
Note: This course requires students to access reading material on the World Wide Web and to communicate via email with me and student colleagues. It is imperative that each student have daily access to a computer with an Internet connection.
There are four primary learning objectives:
With a compressed format and long days, it is important that we make the class as varied and participatory as possible. There will be some lecture/discussions, some group projects, student-led discussions, in-class exercises, and guest speakers. If you come expecting to be told what was covered in the readings, you will be disappointed and not very successful. My job is to select interesting and useful readings, orient you to them by providing background information and identifying key questions, and guide the discussion. Your job is to read the material, think about it, write about it, and come prepared to share your ideas with your classmates. We have the tremendous advantage that we all work in the public sector. In our class discussions we will relate, whenever possible, the theories and concepts from the readings to our workday experiences. You will have the opportunity to orient your assignments around issues of importance to you in your work, culminating in a case study of your organization with respect to issues of organizational effectiveness and public management.
Expectations, assignments and grading
There are four components to students' grades:
· class attendance and participation - 30%
Students must attend all class sessions, all day, with no exceptions other than documented medical absences. In addition to "seat time," the quality of your participation in class discussions will be reflected in your grade. The class will work well only if you participate actively and thoughtfully.
· five short papers (3-5 pages), each addressing one week's readings - 30%
You are to turn in a paper each week at the start of class covering the readings for that week. Sample questions are provided in the syllabus but students are free to address other issues. The purpose of the papers is to (1) make you think critically about the readings and (2) apply the concepts in the readings to your experiences and your organization. I am looking for evidence that you have thought about the readings and have engaged in integrative and critical thinking about how these ideas might relate to your organization. I don't want summaries of the readings (I have read them!). I want to know if you agree, disagree, see conflicts among various authors, find the ideas useful, not useful, and why. The paper does not need to include formal citations from the readings. It does need to be well-organized, well-written, and proof read. I have included two examples of good papers from last Fall to give you an idea of what I am looking for.
· Web site resource review (3-4 pages) - 10%
Over the course of the semester, review some of the web sites listed in the "Web Resources" section of the syllabus. Review of five of the sites, indicating whether and how they could be useful to you in your work or just for general interest. The assignment is due by the last class meeting but may be turned in at any time.
· a final paper (12-15 pages) - 30%
With reference to your current organization, or another organization with which you are familiar, write a case study that describes how the organization and its leaders are dealing with contemporary issues of public management. This paper may build upon the papers you wrote in class and should address issues such as leadership, accountability, reframing the citizen-government relationship, performance measurement, organizational culture, organizational change, ethics, defining and creating public value, etc. The number of issues addressed and the specific topics are your choice. The paper must, however, describe the organization's condition and performance in select areas with respect to the norms and expectations presented by authors we have read. It should be a fairly comprehensive (rather than narrowly focused on one issue) assessment of how the organization is doing in meeting today's challenges. In addition to showing thought about your organization, it must demonstrate your understanding of the contemporary issues facing public organizations and their managers.
Along with your final paper, you are to submit a short (1-2 page) reassessment of the initial email description you submitted regarding your view of the effectiveness of the management of your organization. This should follow easily from the case study prepared for the final paper. This provides you with the opportunity to look back at your first thoughts and see if and how your attitude has changed. It is hoped that you have some more refined or sophisticated observations and opinions. Please write this with reference to your original comments.
Week 1--May 14: Governance: Government and Citizens in a Democratic Society
Optional Web References:
Why was Reinventing Government written when it was? Why has it found such a receptive audience? Does it present a balanced view of the costs and benefits of the changes it recommends? Which changes have the most promise for reforming the public sector? How does the reinvention movement challenge the traditional view of the role of the bureaucracy? To whom should the bureaucracy be accountable? What position does reinvention theory take on the politics/administration dichotomy?
Week 2--May 28: New Directions for Public Management
Optional Web References:
What does the concept of "creating public value" contribute to the understanding of public management? Who defines public value for your organization? Does the public want bureaucrats to be technicians and experts, or to be the political strategists that Moore calls for? To whom would they be accountable for their value choices? How does Moore's view compare with Osborne and Gaebler? Do bureaucrats make public policy? Should they? Is the political management technique that Moore calls "public deliberation" attainable?
Week 3--June 11: Organizations: Arenas for Managing the Public Enterprise
Optional Web Reference:
Which of the metaphors best capture how the leaders of your organization seem to understand it? How do the different metaphors bring to light different issues facing your organization? What makes "learning organizations" different from other organizations? What changes would you make (if you were in charge) to move your organization toward becoming a learning organization? What is the relationship between leadership and organizational culture? How is power best attained and used in your organization? How do decentralization and information technology affect power relationships in organizations? Is it more difficult to change and innovate in the public than the private sector?
Week 4--June 25: Practice: Contemporary Challenges of Public Management, Part 1
Optional Web References:
Why has accountability become such a large part of public sector reform? How is accountability different in the public and private sectors? How does accountability relate to innovation? Are there dangers in focusing on performance measurement? What is the connection between performance measurement and accountability? What characteristics of a plan or a planning process increase the chances that a plan will actually be used? What does it mean to use a plan? What is a vision and how do public managers best contribute to its adoption?
Week 5--July 9: Practice: Contemporary Challenges of Public Management, Part 2
Optional Web Reference:
What values are driving the push for privatization? How do these reforms affect the public manager's relationship with the external domain? What values are paramount for civil service reformers? How do these values relate to those embodied in the reinventing government movement? How important is leadership, compared to institutional reforms, in making the changes being called for in state and local government? How does the reinvention movement affect the expectations for leaders? Does successful government reform require "heroic" leaders? How has the reinvention movement affected the focus of public sector ethics? Are ethical challenges different in the public and private sectors?
FINAL PAPER AND WEB SITE REVIEW DUE FRIDAY, JULY 16th
Last updated June 23, 1999