PPA 297:
California Executive Fellowship Program Seminar

Fall 1999

Professor Ted Lascher
3035 Tahoe (business) Building

(916)278-4864 (office)
(916)278-6544 (fax)
(530)758-5687 (home; no calls after 9:00 p.m.)

Seminar meets:
Fridays, 9-11 a.m. (office) (home)


This seminar is intended to provide an analytical perspective on the administrative and policy processes in which you are engaging. It is hoped that this will assist you both in understanding issues related to your placements (by linking theory with practice), and in putting the entire Fellowship year in context.

In the fall, the seminar will focus on life within public organizations in California and elsewhere. We will consider topics such as organizational culture, organizational diversity, and management of public agencies. Interspersed will be sessions aimed at skill building and "open forums" (to be discussed below in more depth).

While there are some topics we will certainly cover in the spring (e.g. administrative ethics, executive-legislative relations), the choice of other topics will depend somewhat on your interests. During the fall I will survey you about such interests.


The term "seminar" is accurate. While I will guide the conversation, summarize points and draw lessons, the bulk of class time will be devoted to general discussion of course topics. Case studies (e.g. from Harvard University's Kennedy

School of Government, or KSG) will be used to help focus attention on concrete situations that illustrate key topics. Each of you also will gain insights from your own work, and I expect that you will share them.

I have included specific discussion questions in the syllabus. These questions are intended to help guide your reading and preparation.


Over the years we have learned that Fellows encounter issues, concerns, and interests that are not well encompassed by the syllabus established at the beginning of the year. To accommodate this tendency, approximately every four weeks the seminar will be reserved for the "open forum." I will not prepare any specific topics or readings for these days. Instead, I will assign small groups of Fellows to meet and plan an agenda. Appropriate class sessions might center on the following:

I will be glad to meet with the assigned Fellows to offer suggestions, recommend readings, etc. However, it will remain the Fellows' responsibility to identify appropriate background materials, and plan and guide the open forum sessions.


We will generally follow the CSUS academic calendar, except that we will meet in January, 1999 while the University is on semester break. The Christmas/New Year break is scheduled for the last two weeks of December. Additionally we likely will not meet during a couple weeks in late spring because of my responsibilities to the Executive Fellowship selection committee.


Most of the required readings will be contained in course readers available from the Center for California Studies. I have deliberately tried to emphasize high quality readings, while keeping the page requirements very manageable. Accordingly, I expect that at each people will have completed the required readings, which usually will not be more than a couple of book chapters or journal articles.


The seminar is a required part of the Executive Fellowship experience. Consistent attendance at seminar meetings is expected. Mentors are aware of this requirement, and have been instructed to ensure that Friday mornings are free for Fellows to attend the seminar.

Nevertheless, it is quite possible that on rare occasions Fellows will need to miss a seminar meeting because of unavoidable conflicts with other work needs (e.g. the need to be out of Sacramento to make a presentation on a topic directly related to one's placement). We expect this will happen no more than two times at most. Any Fellow who finds it necessary to miss a seminar meeting should clear it first with me. Missing more than two seminar meetings without prior clearance will result in a lowered class participation grade, a salary dock, and a possible administrative review of the Fellow's status.


The main written assignment will be a seminar paper, due at the end of spring. The seminar paper should 1) evaluate how state public policy might best address a particular problem, and/or 2) analyze why decision makers chose a particular policy option or specific policy implementation strategy (and not some other option/strategy). Except in rare circumstances, I would anticipate that seminar papers will relate to Fellows' placements. A paper prospectus will be due in January.

In addition, there will be three short individual written assignments, one in the fall and two in the spring. There also will be a fall group project.

This seminar will be graded, with the grading scale similar to that which is generally used in graduate public policy and administration programs (for such courses, grades of below B- are usually considered failing).

Deadlines for assignments are specified in the syllabus, and are to be taken seriously. If someone is unable to meet the deadline for placement or other reasons, arrangements should be made with me prior to the due date. Non-excused late assignments will be penalized.


Final course grades will be determined in accordance with the following weighting scheme.

Final paper

Class participation (including work for "open forums")

Group project

Short papers





30% (10% each)





Like it or not, most state governmental work takes place within large organizations, or "bureaucracies." It is therefore important to understand the common characteristics of such entities. In this section we will do so, focusing especially on the concept of organizational culture.

October 8: Organizations from the Operators� Perspective


Wilson, Bureaucracy, chs. 1-3

Discussion Questions

1. What does Wilson mean by the "operators" within an organization? Who is (and is not) included in this Group?
2. How do circumstances determine the behavior of people within organizations?

October 15: Organizational Culture, Part One


Wilson, Bureaucracy, chs. 4, 6
Edgar H. Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership (1985), pp. 112-127

Video (to be viewed in class)

"The California Franchise Tax Board: Strategies for a Changing Workforce" (KSG video case)

Discussion Questions

1. What exactly is organizational culture?
2. How does one go about determine what culture(s) are operating within an organization?
3. What is the culture like at the Franchise Tax Board? How has it changed over time?

October 22

Open Forum
October 29: Diversity Issues Within Organizations


Robert Schrank, et al, "Two Women, Three Men on a Raft," Harvard Business Review (May-June, 1994), pp. 68-80
Catherine Ellis and Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, "Diverse Approaches to Managing Diversity," Human Resource Management, vol. 33 (1994), pp. 79-109

Discussion Questions

1. What lessons for the implications of organizational diversity can be drawn from the "Two Women" article?
2. What difference, if any, does it make that public agencies are reflective of the clientele they serve?
3. What strategies can and should public organizations use to "manage diversity?"

November 5: Organizational Culture, Part Two

Individual Written Assignment on Organizational Culture Due


Come to class prepared to make a brief presentation about the nature of the organizational culture(s) within your organization.

November 12: Skill Building- Writing Memos


Selected public organization memos (forthcoming)

Discussion Questions

1. Why are so many memos so awful?
2. What can be done to improve memo-writing?



In this section we move to viewing organizations from the manager�s perspective, concentrating especially on what makes public management unique.

November 19: Managing Public Organizations, Part One


"Park Plaza" (KSG case)
Wilson, Bureaucracy, chs. 7, 9
Discussion Questions

1. What, if anything, should Miles Mahoney have done differently?
2. Is it true that "private and public management is alike in all unimportant respects?"
3. Where does your agency fit within the typologyWilson presents in chapter 9?

December 3 [no seminar November 26; Thanksgiving holiday]

Open Forum

December 10: Managing Public Organizations, Part Two


"A Failing Agency: The Federal Trade Commission" (KSG case)Wilson, Bureaucracy, chs. 11-12

Discussion Questions

1. At the end of the case, what would you advise Weinberger to do?
2. What are some of the different overall strategies that can be taken by public sector managers?
3. What is necessary for public sector managers to innovate?

December 17: Skills Development- Mock Presentations to Agency Heads

Group Assignment Due


To be determined by groups