PPA 297:
California Executive Fellowship Program Seminar


Spring, 1999


Professor Ted Lascher
3035 Business (Tahoe)


Seminar meets:Building
Fridays, 9-11 a.m.

(916)278-4864 (office)
(916)278-6544 (office fax)
(530)758-5687 (home) (office) (home)



This spring we will focus on four main substantive topics. The first is gubernatorial transitions. The second is "life within the bureaucracy," including such sub-topics as organizational culture, organizational diversity, and management of public agencies. The third main topic is the ethics of public service. Our final topic will be "imagining a different type of state government." To this end, we will consider the implications of a hypothetical move toward adoption of a parliamentary system in California.

The last portion of the course will be devoted to seminar paper presentations.



Again, we will generally follow the CSUS academic calendar, except that we will meet in January, 1999 while the University is on semester break. The spring break is scheduled for April 2. Additionally, we likely will not meet during one week in early May, depending on the schedule for the Executive Fellowship selection committee.



Most of the readings will be in a second course packet available from the Center for California Studies. The following books also will be required, and will be available from the Center as well.

Gary G. Hamilton and Nicole Woolsey Biggart, Governor Reagan, Governor Brown: A Sociology of Executive Power (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984)
Note: We will use another part of this book, which we discussed during the orientation

National Governors’ Association (NGA), Becoming Governor: The Transition and First Year (Washington: NGA, 1992)

James Q. Wilson, Bureaucracy (New York: Basic Books, 1989)



During the spring semester, graded assignments will include a seminar paper prospectus, two short individual papers, and the final seminar paper. Again, grades for the entire year will be determined in accordance with the following weights.

Final paper 30%
Class participation (including work for "open forums") 25%
Group project 10%
Short papers 30% (10% each)
Prospectus 5%




The transition from the Wilson to the Davis Administration will dominating the news– and may dominate your work lives as well. Accordingly, it is appropriate to step back and think more broadly about the transition experience. We will concentrate especially on the lessons that can be learned from past executive transitions.

January 8: Introduction

This day will be used for distribution of the syllabus, an overview of the topics for this semester, and individual meetings regarding seminar projects.

January 15: Setting Policy Direction


NGA, Becoming Governor, chapters on Governors of Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and California (skim remaining chapters)

Thad L. Beyle, "Gubernatorial Transitions: Lessons from the 1982-1983 Experience," in Beyle ed., Gubernatorial Transitions: The 1982 Election (Durham: Duke University Press, 1985), pp. 1-33.

Richard Neustadt, "The Hazards of Transition," in his Presidential Power: The Politics of Leadership from FDR to Carter (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1980), pp. 208-231

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the common themes from the advice of earlier governors regarding the transition period?
  2. What are typical policy hurdles that face an incoming executive?
  3. What makes for a "successful" transition?

January 22: Choosing Personnel and Setting an Approach to Administration


Review readings for January 15
Hamilton and Biggart, Governor Reagan, Governor Brown, chapter 7

Discussion Questions

  1. How do governors vary in their approach to setting up an administration?
  2. What should governors consider in choosing appointees?
  3. What personnel problems may await an unwary new governor?

January 29

Seminar paper prospectus due

Open Forum



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.

February 5: Organizational Culture, Part One


Wilson, Bureaucracy, chapters 1-3, 6
Edgar H. Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership (1985), pp. 112-127

Discussion Questions

  1. How do circumstances determine the behavior of people within organizations?
  2. What exactly is organizational culture?
  3. How does one go about determine what culture(s) are operating within an organization?

February 12: Diversity Issues Within Organizations


Robert Schrank, et al, "Two Women, Three Men on a Raft," Harvard Business Review (May-June, 1994), pp. 68-80

Gregory S. Thielemann and Joseph Stewart, Jr., "A Demand-Side Perspective on the Importance of Representative Bureaucracy: AIDS, Ethnicity, Gender, and Sexual Orientation," Public Administration Review, vol. 56 (1996), pp. 168-173

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?"

February 19: Organizational Culture, Part Two

Short Written Assignment on Organizational Culture Due


Martin Landau and Donald Chisolm, "The Arrogance of Optimism," Institute of Governmental Studies working paper 88-16 (1988)


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

February 26

Open Forum

March 5: Managing Public Organizations, Part One


"Park Plaza" (Kennedy School of Government case) Wilson, Bureaucracy, chapters 7-9

Discussion Questions

  1. What, if anything, should Miles Mahoney have done differently?
  2. What are the differences among the four types of agencies Wilson describes in chapter 9? Where does your own agency fit within these types?

March 12: Managing Public Organizations, Part Two

Video (to be viewed in class)

"The California Franchise Tax Board: Strategies for a Changing Workforce"


"A Failing Agency: The Federal Trade Commission" (Kennedy School of Government case)

Wilson, Bureaucracy, chapters 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?

March 19

Open Forum



People in all kinds of work situations often face ethical issues. However, issues facing public servants are often especially complex because of the competing obligations they may face (e.g. duty to an elected superior, responsibility to constituents and "taxpayers"). We will explore such issues in this unit.

March 26


John R. Walton, James M. Stearns, and Charles T. Crespy, "Integrating Ethics Into the Public Administration Curriculum: A Three-Step Process," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, vol. 16 (1997), pp. 470-483

Michael Quinlan/Arthur Applbaum, debate in Governance, vol. 6 (October, 1993), pp. 538-558

Discussion Questions

  1. To what extent are administrative personnel ethically obligated to follow the dictates of top appointed officials within executive agencies?
  2. What options are available to agency personnel who confront unethical behavior within their organization? Which options should be used first, and which last?

April 9 (no seminar April 2: spring break)

Short Written Assignment on Administrative Ethics Due


"The Case of the Segregated Schools" (KSG case)


Come to class prepared to discuss your assignment.



The separation of powers system is firmly entrenched in California and elsewhere in the United States. However, by stepping back and comparing our system to those operating elsewhere we can obtain some perspectives on what is gained and lost under our system of government. We also may become more clear about the directions future reforms should take.

April 16: Understanding Differences Between the Systems


Penelope Cowen et al., An Analysis of Proposals for Constitutional Change in New Zealand, pp. 2.1-2.19

Bruce Cain and Nathaniel Persily, "Creating an Accountable Legislature: The Parliamentary Option for California Government," in Cain and Roger Noll, eds., Constitutional Reform in California (1994), pp. 163-168

Discussion Question

How is the Westminster parliamentary system different from the American separation of powers system?

April 23: Evaluating the Systems


Cain and Persily, "Creating an Accountable Legislature," pp. 168-193

Edward L. Lascher, Jr., "Loss Imposition and Institutional Characteristics: Learning from Automobile Insurance Reform in North America," Canadian Journal of Political Science 31 (1998): 143-164.


Resolved: California should move toward a parliamentary system of government.



The last three course days will be devoted to seminar paper presentations. Each Fellow will make a presentation on his/her topic. Because of uncertainty about the dates for my Executive Fellowship Selection Committee obligations, I will not set precise dates for the last three days until later in the spring. We will meet on Fridays at our usual time and place.