Spring 2018 - 60705 - PA384C - Public Management

Public Management

This course provides an introduction to public management- managing public organizations and managing the public aspects of nonprofit and private sector organizations.  This course examines the context (political and stakeholder environment), purposes (goals and accountability mechanisms), and structures (traditional and alternative) of organizations carrying out public objectives, and introduce strategies to diagnose and address management challenges unique to public serving organizations. The course focuses on traditional public sector organizations, government funded bureaus and agencies that deliver public services directly to citizens, but will also consider other organizations that operate in the public sector (e.g., nonprofits, private firms under contract). 

The course begins by examining the backbone of public management- organizations- and ways to describe and evaluate the publicness of organizations. The course then evaluates the context of organizations in depth, paying careful attention to identifying how different environmental factors constrain and enhance the ability of managers to deliver goods and services to citizens.  After looking externally, the course then turns internally to examine public purposes and goals, paying particular attention to those designed to increase accountability and manage and measure performance.  The last section of the course will investigate the structure of organizations and how the structure of organizations facilitates and or/impedes the ability of organizations to provide for public outcomes, and the varying success of structural reforms (such as decentralization, customer-driven service delivery, and contracting/ outsourcing). This section includes an examination of previous and current efforts to reform public serving organizations, with varying success at meeting public objectives.     

Requirements and expectations

This course involves a mix of readings, case analyses, lectures, discussions, and out-of-class assignments. The class session format will include short lectures, extensive student discussion and small group exercises. The lectures, discussions and group exercises are designed to elaborate on and extend key points in the conceptual material, and clarify steps described in the applied material.   Student progress will be evaluated on the basis of performance along three criteria: 1) case study analyses; 2) a written paper on a management topic; and 3) class participation.  The assignments are designed to provide you with an opportunity to think critically about managing organizations in a public context, and to give you experience with basic management tools.


This course requires extensive reading before class sessions and a high level of student participation in class based on these readings.  The required textbook for this course is Public Management: Thinking and Acting in Three Dimensions by Carolyn J. Hill and Laurence E. Lynn (CQ press), 2015.  The course will also rely on additional management literature and journal articles on theory and practice in public settings, and applied pieces on how to employ various management techniques.   These additional readings will be made available via the course management website.