Introduction to Public Policy and Administration 
PPA 200

Fall 1998
Dr. Michael Semler
Tues. 4-6:50

As the introductory graduate seminar to public administration and policy, this course outlines the major concepts and ideas of public administration and policy analysis, the lineage of these themes, and how they impact today's public sector administrator. We will examine the "classics", representative arguments and discuss how these concepts are used in managing the public sector. A significant portion of the class will compare the public and private sector and how public sector decision makers analyze problems and present solutions. Above all we will explore the relationship between "politics" and management.

The course is a seminar. Your participation is critical for all concerned. Consequently, you are expected to read the materials prior to each class session. You will be expected to participate in the discussion. Your opinions and experiences are valuable, but do not substitute for reading the assignments.

My objective is for you to acquire a set of skills enabling you to explain what you are observing. While an undergraduate is viewed as successful when he or she can accurately describe a phenomenon, I believe that a graduate student should be able to answer the question "why." Accordingly, your work will be evaluated on that basis.

This course is designed to accomplish several objectives:

We want to introduce you to the field and highlight the important issues facing public administration and policy making.

The field of public administration is a discipline with antecedents in psychology, sociology, economics, political science and law. We want you to understand how these disciplines became the field's theoretical underpinnings.

We want you to begin using the skills/ideas/concepts presented in this class and program in real world situations. We will present these ideas in the context of California's state and local governments.

Public policy analysis has an interesting intellectual history. We want you to understand how politics and policy making are joined; albeit policy analysts often characterize their work as providing "realistic" solutions absent politics.

Each class session and readings center on one major theme. Individual students will be assigned responsibility to be the class resource for each session. Each leader will prepare a short (one page) synopsis of an assigned article and distribute it to everyone at the beginning of the session. At the end of the course every student will have, therefore, a comprehensive summary of the "classics" in the discipline. This will be useful for review throughout your graduate studies.


Shafritz, Jay and Albert Hyde, Classics of Public Administration, 4th. ed. This book will be referred in the reading assignments are S/H.

Bardach, Eugene The Eight-Step Path of Policy Analysis, (Berkeley Academic Press)

Stone, Debroah Policy Paradox; The Art of Political Decision Making (Norton) (careful, please obtain the correct edition published in 1997)

California Casebook, 1997, A Product of the California Cases Project, Center for California Studies, CSUS. (Note due to the courtesy of Timothy Hodson, Director of the Center, you will receive a copy from me at no additional cost)

Case studies on reserve in the Library. You may also order copies directly from the Case Program of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.


1. Each student will be responsible for three short summaries of an assigned reading (the synopsis) worth 15% of the final grade.

2. Politics, political decision making and the behavior of political leaders have provided the scene and action of countless fictional accounts. I would like you to read a piece of fiction or a biography which involves political issues. My objectives are, first, for you to read something other than an academic treatise that deals with the same subjects being discussed in class, second, recognize how these themes can be presented or viewed from a number of legitimate perspectives, and, third, how these issues are either perceived to have been resolved or have been. After I approve the book, you should write a review linking the issues raised in the book with the concepts presented in your readings or discussed in class. The book review, not to exceed five (5) pages in length, should be completed by week 12 so that we may discuss the material in class. It will account for 15% of the final grade.

3. Three short (3-5 pages) on selected topics. In the first paper I want you to describe your organization's structure and the power relationships within it. The second paper topic concerns leadership. I would like a paper outlining how leaders in your organization motivate employees and set the organization's agenda. The third paper describes how decisions are made, i.e. what are the rules and procedures which govern your organization. These papers should take a theme presented in class or discussed in one of the readings as the basis of your presentation. They are due at week 3, 5 and 7 and account for 25% of the course grade.

4. I would like a longer paper (not to exceed 10-12 pages) on a policy issue of your choosing. The paper needs to address four critical aspects of the policy area: how the problem came to be identified by the participant, who are the players and their objectives, the rules governing the decision making process, and your evaluation of the results. Alternatively, you can analyze the policy issue from one of these perspectives. I will discuss this more in class as we proceed, but I am not asking you for a policy analysis itself. You need my approval as to the subject matter. The paper, which accounts for 30% of your grade, will be due at the end of the semester.

5. Because this is a seminar you should participate in class. This means you should come to each class session, unless specifically excused, and join in the discussions. I recognize that there is considerable variety in the form of participation. I will try to have everyone join in. The quality of your participation will account for 15% of the final grade.


Week 1: Course Introduction, Expectations and General Themes

This class will introduce the course, my expectations, your objectives and a general discussion of the issues facing public administrators. Our discussion over the next three sessions concerns the intellectual history of public administration, where does it differ from "private" administration, and what are the critical issues facing the field: ethics/culture, definition of the public interest, the trade-off between equity and efficiency, and diversity.

Week 2: The Study of Public Administration

Where did public administration begin and what are its earliest and most enduring themes? How do we balance the ideas of a "perfect organization" with meeting the expectations of a diverse citizenry? Can we create an efficient organization? What should be the goals of a public administrator?

Readings: S/H Wilson (1), Goodnow (2), White (6), Frederickson (32), and Stivers (46)
Reserve Room, Learning by the Case Method (Harvard)

Week 3: The Political Context of Public Administration

Where do cultural values enter the process? How does a public administrator differ from the private sector manager? Throughout the discipline's history there has been a belief that public sector organizations are different than private ones. Today, public leaders are being told to be like their private sector cousins; can this be done and what are its consequences?

Readings: S/H Goodnow (2), Appleby (15), Herring (8), Kaufman (30), Lowi (31),
Mosher (35), Krislov (36), and Barzelay (47)

Week 4: Organizational Analysis

Public organizations are complex. Why are they and do they need to be? Much of the literature on public organization comes from psychology, economics and sociology. What have we learned about organizational structure and behavior? The next two weeks focuses on these issues.

Readings: S/H Weber (5), Taylor (3), Gulick (9), Waldo (17), Downs (28), Kaufman (30),
Bennis (26), Wright (54)

Week 5: Organization Structure--People Make Them Work

This week highlights the people and their productivity. How organizations respond to the environment and use their employees, i.e. their "people orientation."

Readings: S/H Katz and Kahn (23), Selznick (18), Merton (12), Krislov (36), Lipsky (39), National Performance Review (50), Kettl (51), Holzer (52)

Week 6: Organizational Leadership ( The Decision Makers)

The next two weeks presents the literature on leadership and decision making. What are the roles, expectations, values and ethics of organizational leaders or managers. There are different types of managers -- how do they work and should we emulate a particular type?

Readings: S/H Maslow (14), Follett (7), Barnard (11), Allison (38), Mosher (41), Ingraham (53)
"How Bush Manages the Presidency", Ann Dowd, Fortune, August 27, 1990 (reserve)
"The Governor and the Medfly", California Casebook
"Addressing a Fractious Constituency: Andrew Mecca and California's Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs," Parts A and B (reserve)

Week 7: Decision Making (How the Rules Impact the Choice)

Decision making not only involves people, but a set of rules or procedures which must be followed. In the public sector these rules take on special powers and limit the ability of a manager to act. As we saw in the above cases, public decision makers can not operate as freely as those in the private sector. The literature on decision making in the public sector is extensive, especially from political scientists and often with a budgetary focus.

Readings: S/H Simon (16), Key (13), Lindblom (22), Schick (24), Wildavsky (29), Rivlin (33),
Pressman (34), Caiden (40)
Stone Introduction and Chapter 1

Week 8: Equity vs. Efficiency

Politics finally enters the equation. The political calculus is who wins and who loses in any policy or administrative decision. Public sector decision makers must address this issue. The problem is how to establish the criteria and meet them while simultaneously deliver a product or service.

Readings: Stone Part 2 "Goals"
"The Road to a Motorcycle Helmet Law in California" California Casebook

Week 9: The Policy Analyst vs. The Politician

Since Madison wrote about "the mischief of factions", the political process has been viewed as producing less than perfect results. Can perfection be achieved using a "rational process?" What is the role of the policy analyst in the decision making process?

Readings: Bardach The Eight-Step Path (entire book)
S/H Dorr (27), Meltsner (44), Sharkansky (48)
"The Battle of the Alamodome: Henry Cisneros and the San Antonio Stadium"
Part A and Epilogue (reserve)

Week 10: Setting the Policy Agenda

How does a policy problem arise? How is the problem defined and who/what decides among alternatives? Bardach and his colleagues believe that goals are implicit or understood; thus the job of the policy analyst is to maximize results designed to achieve them. A contrary argument is that the goals of public policy making are not precise and are often conflicting. In this view clear articulation of these goals may be the first objective of political leaders. Hence, policy analysts first must develop strategies to achieve agreement or, at least, understanding about conflicting goals.

Readings: Stone, Part Three "Problems"
"Congestion Relief for Boston's Logan Airport" (reserve)

Week 11: Policy Solutions and Implementation

How come policy solutions seemingly are never permanent? The job of the public administrator or policy analyst is to produce a set of activities which will change human behavior toward a desired end. This week we discuss how that is accomplished.

Readings: Stone, Part Four "Solutions"
"The Little Board the Could--But Did It?", California Casebook

Week 12: The Policy Analyst

We spent several weeks discussing the assumptions and consequences of market based models vis. models which, as Stone describes, are based on "the polis." Using these models how does the policy analyst achieve results that "solve" today's pressing problems? How do personal values enter the decision making process.

Readings: Stone, "The Introduction" (again) and "Conclusion: Political Reason"
S/H McGregor (21), Mosher (35), Thompson (43), Joyce (49)

Week 13: California's Emerging Issues

From the perspective of the basic themes presented earlier in the course, his week we will be examining three issues: Intergovernmental Dependency, Outsourcing/Privatization, and the transportation/ land use connection.

Readings: "How Could this be Orange County" California Casebook
"When Outsourcing Goes Awry" Harvard Business Review, (reserve)
S/H Moe (45), Wright (54)

Week 14: California's Emerging Issues, Part Two

California's population is changing. Aside from obvious demographic shifts, what does this mean for policy makers and the state's economy? We will look at how leaders have to deal with a changing work force, apply standards to the educational bureaucracy, and public safety.

Readings: "Clas Warfare (or Applying the Death Penalty to a Program that Everyone Wanted" California Casebook