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Fall 2010 - 60915 - PA384C - Public Management

Instructor(s): Bacon, Kevin
Unique Number: 60915
Day & Time: M 9:00 - 12:00 pm
Room: SRH 3.355
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information
Course Overview

This course provides substantive instruction in administrative policymaking and implementation. It is usually taken during the first year. Students are introduced to the role and method of administration in meeting policy expectations, resolving issues, responding to new requirements, and evaluating performance. The course covers the following topics: organization structure and bureaucracy, management issues and processes, managerial psychology, managing diversity, leadership, strategic planning, interorganizational relations, administrative law, human resource management, labor relations, personnel administration, performance measurement, program evaluation, information management, and ethics of public service. Each section of the course uses a different aspect of public administration or public management to emphasize these topics. The objectives of the course are achieved by using case studies, simulation exercises, class visitors, and practical exercises which complement the assigned readings and class discussions.

Section Description

What does the course cover?  I built this course from two basic assumptions:

  1. Throughout her or his career, every LBJ graduate will be called upon to manage and lead groups of people in accomplishing important work. You will usually do so on behalf of some larger organization. You should prepare for this work.
  2. The design of public policy must consider the issues of implementation (or management). As Alexander Hamilton warned us over 200 years ago in the Federalist Papers, “…a government ill executed, whatever it may be in theory, must in practice be a bad government.” (See Note)

My goal is to give you an overview of some of the main ideas in management and an opportunity to talk about and practice some of the concepts you will need as you move through your career. We’ll talk about the real-world challenges of leaders and managers face in implementing public policy.

This course introduces students to management principles and practices, with a focus on public agency administration. We begin with a discussion on the nature of public administration and move to organization theory and the effect of structure on administrative behavior. We will also examine the “people” side of government organizations as well as management and leadership within organizations. Many case studies are examined in depth to provide real life context for the course content.

The course is designed to go beyond a conceptual framework of public management by also helping students develop the knowledge, insights and skills necessary to manage and to lead public sector organizations. Students will also work in small group settings on a number of management skill-building exercises, such as “supportive communication” and “managing conflict”.

The course requires extensive reading and class preparation as well as a high level of participation in class. Student assessment will be based on class participation, short written assignments, one 20-page paper and oral presentations. There will be no final examination. In addition, individuals and small teams of students will make presentations in class on a variety of management topics.

What will you do in this course?

  • Analyze and discuss real life case studies as well as course readings
  • Participate in vigorous discussions of case studies
  • Discuss and practice management skills
  • Learn to write action-oriented management memos
  • Analyze management issues in a real organization and write a paper about it
  • Discuss how privatization, governmental reforms, organization culture, and network government shape what public sector organizations can accomplish
  • Discuss real-world management dilemmas and how they affect the implementation of public policy
  • Consider some real-life ethical issues encountered in public service
  • Have some fun

Why take this course?

  1. It’s a required flexible core course (we might as well be honest)
  2. Implementation (aka: management) is at least as important as policy development
  3. You will learn skills that will help you throughout your career
  4. Everyone in the class has a chance to speak out and help all of us learn

Who is teaching this course? I have been teaching Advanced Management at LBJ since fall 2006. Prior to coming to LBJ, I was a management consultant for 23 years. I was a Vice President with the IBM Business Consulting Services public sector practice, where I led a team serving US federal civilian agencies. Prior to joining IBM, I was a partner on the leadership team of the public sector consulting practice of PriceWaterhouseCoopers. There I served public sector clients at the federal, state, and local levels. I worked with a wide variety of government programs, including social services, transportation, education, regulatory agencies, criminal justice, and public finance. With both IBM and PwC I was responsible for managing large groups of professionals, so I have lived with most of the management challenges we will discuss in the course.

In addition to teaching at LBJ, I continue to do consulting work for public sector clients. I also serve on the boards of two non-profit organizations.

Prior to my consulting career I served as a consultant to the California Legislature and as a lobbyist. I received my BA in Political Science from the University of California at Davis and an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.

Note: Alexander Hamilton as quoted in The New Public Service, Paul C. Light, Brookings Institution, 1999, page 2.