PPA 240 Syllabus
Public Management
California State University, Sacramento


Professor Nancy Shulock

FALL, 1998

Course Description

Course Objectives

Seminar Format



Reading Materials

Other Materials

Course Outline

Wednesdays: 6:00 - 8:50 pm

Dr. Nancy Shulock

Mendocino Hall 3003


278-7249; nshulock@csus.edu

Office Hours: by appointment


Office: Sacramento Hall, 226

Course Description

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, and how public managers interact with other actors and institutions in the political process. There will be a specific focus on state and local government in California.

Note: This course contains several web-based class "periods" and assignments. It is imperative that each student have daily access to a computer with an Internet connection. This can be accomplished through existing home or work accounts, or by registering for a SacLink account at the CSUS Computer Center (Science 322; phone: 278-7337). If students do not have access to a computer at home or at work, there are several open computer labs on campus that can be used, including one that is open 24-hours. These accounts must be established and usable by September 9 in order to participate fully in class assignments. In addition to the basic Internet access and e-mail, students will need a SacLink account to participate in the required Conference on the Web (COW) course activities.

Course Objectives

There are three primary objectives:

  • On the assumption that most students in the class are, or aspire to be, employed in the public sector--many in management positions--we will learn about today's real world challenges of public management. With attention focused on "reinventing government" over the last several years, public agencies are expected to be customer-focused, efficient, productive, and accountable to the taxpayer. Public managers, therefore, are giving increasing attention to changing personnel policies, reallocating resources, reengineering processes, assuring quality, accomplishing cultural change within organizations, and measuring outcomes to account for the value of public services delivered. We will study these trends generally, with specific reference to California state and local government.
  • I want students to gain an understanding of the place of public organizations in a democratic society and the role of the public manager in the political environment. We will learn about how scholars think about and study organizations, how public organizations differ from private ones, and how the fields of public management and public administration evolved to where they are today.
  • I want this course to contribute toward your successful progress through the PPA program by improving your ability to "read smart", increasing your understanding of how research questions are posed and studied, raising some interesting questions that you may want to pursue, and developing your skills in seeking and consuming information.

There is one additional course objective: we are experimenting with some use of the web during this course. The objective is to familiarize students with forms of electronic communication that will be increasingly important to the workplace and to take advantage of the educational value of these tools.

Seminar Format

This is not a lecture class. If you come expecting to be told what was covered in the readings, you will be disappointed. My job is to select interesting and useful readings, orient you to them by identifying key questions, and guide the discussion. Your job is to read the material, think about it, and come prepared to share your ideas with your classmates. We have the tremendous advantage that many of you, like me, 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. Those of you who work in public or public-benefit organizations will have the opportunity to construct your assignments around issues of importance to you in your work, culminating in a case study. Those students who are not working in an organization, and who are not sufficiently familiar with an organization, will adopt CSUS or the State Department of General Services (DGS) as their organization. I will help students understand the application of course concepts to CSUS. The Assistant Director for Legislation at DGS will help students with that organization.

I will use a variety of learning strategies to try to keep the course interesting for everyone. Most often we will have class discussions oriented toward issues that you have identified as interesting or important. We will also have group projects, student-led discussions, Internet projects, and mediated interaction using the World Wide Web. We will have three class "sessions" for which we will use the World Wide Web instead of meeting on campus. This is intended as a convenience measure for students as well as an opportunity to learn how new technologies can contribute to learning.


The following assignments are due on the dates indicated.


Due Date

Every week, beginning week 2, students are required to email me a question that relates to the assigned reading for the week. See assignment detail for more information. When aassigned (about 4-5 times during the semester), students will be asked to raise their issue to the class and lead a brief class discussion.

by noon on the day of class

Four short papers are required (2-4 pages, double spaced) on weekly reading topics. Students may choose which weeks they want to write these papers, but they are due in class and must address the assigned readings for the week. See assignment detail for more information.

at class for the four weeks of your choice

Group Project: in groups of four, students will work electronically to critique strategic plans from a variety of organizations. See assignment detail for more information.

November 18

Final Paper: A paper of 12-15 pages that is either a case study of an organization's progress in addessing contemporary challenges of public management or a conceptual review and analysis of public management challenges. See assignment detail for more information.

December 16 by 6pm

Web Resources Review: Review web resources listed in Resources section of course overview. See assignment detail for more information

Submit with final paper


Class attendance and participation (including weekly
e-mail questions)

I consider enrolling in this class a commitment to me and to your student colleagues to attend the class. We all benefit from everyone's contributions. It is not okay to miss class for any but the most unavoidable of reasons. Excessive absences jeopardizes successful completion of the course. In addition to "seat time", the quality of your participation in class discussions will be reflected in your grade. For the three class sessions conducted via the web, electronic communications will count as class participation.


Class discussion questions


Four short papers


Group project


Internet Resources Review


Final Paper


Papers and group assignments will be graded according to the following standards: 


Outstanding achievement: clear purpose, thorough understanding of relevant material, original points well -supported with evidence or persuasive argument, well-organized, well-written, few or no typographical errors.


Good performance: topic and purpose is well-stated, points well-supported, well-organized, well-written, few or no typographical errors.


Many aspects of assignment covered, but lacking originality, clarity, thoroughness, persuasiveness, or writing quality.


Missed the point or the assignment in either form or substance.

Reading Materials

Required Texts:
  • David Osborne and Ted Gaebler, Reinventing Government, 1992, Plume.
  • Mark Moore, Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government, 1995, Harvard University Press.
  • Lisbeth Schorr, Common Purpose, 1997, Doubleday.
  • Gareth Morgan, Images of Organization, 1997, Sage Publications.
  • "Readings in Public Management" - set of readings for purchase from Bookstore
  • Other Materials

    Each student needs an e-mail account, Internet access, and a SacLink account for access to Conferencing on the Web (COW) course components.


    Course Outline, Readings, and Assignment Schedule

    Part I

    Governance: Government and Citizens in a Democratic Society

    Week 1: Sept 2 Introduction and course objectives

    Week 2: Sept 9 The reinventing government movement

    Week 3: Sept 16 Bureaucracy and democracy; critiques of reinvention

    Week 4: Sept 23 New directions for public management

    Week 5: Sept 30 New directions for public management-continued Web class period


    Part II

    Organizations: Arenas for Managing the Public Enterprise

    Week 6: Oct 7 The meaning of organizations (part 1)

    Week 7: Oct 14 The meaning of organizations (part 2)

    Week 8: Oct 21 Organizational Change Web class period


    Part III

    Practice: Contemporary Challenges of Public Management

    Week 9: Oct 28 Accountability

    Week 10: Nov 4 Performance Measurement

    Week 11: Nov 11 Privatization, Reengineering, and TQM Web class period

    Week 12: Nov 18 Leadership

    Week 13: Nov 25 (Thanksgiving-no class)

    Week 14: Dec 2 Civil Service and Personnel Management

    Week 15: Dec 9 Ethics; Wrapping Up

    Week 16: Final Papers Due Dec 16 by 6:00 p.m.



    Page updated: October 12, 1998