Robert C. Turner                                                                

315 Ladd                                               

Office Hours 3:30-5, T, MW 11-12am

  or by appointment


Public Administration

Government 316 (4 credits)

Fall 2002


Course Introduction

Woodrow Wilson wrote that the primary aim of administrative study should be to discern “what government can properly and successfully do.”  This class aims at achieve both of these goals.  The purpose of this class is to introduce you to the theory and practice of administration in public agencies in the United States.  You will be expected to learn the major concepts that are used in the study of public administration and to apply those concepts in analyzing problems that typically face persons in administrative capacities.  The assignments in the course are intended to help you link “theory” and “practice and to help you develop your own approach to thinking about and managing in public agencies.  Hopefully, the class will provide an introduction to public administration for those who are considering a career in public service and foster in others an appreciation of the complexities and difficulties of public administration.             


The objectives of the course are 1) to provide an introduction to the concepts, ideas, and strategies behind public administration; 2) to examine the economic, political, and social context in which government agencies operate and how it affects their performance; 3) to reflect on the goals and objectives of public administration; 4) to review a variety of techniques for improving government performance and reinventing government; 5) to hone your ability to critically analyze and present your analysis in a variety of mediums. 


The format of the class is as follows.  Typically, I will lecture on the topic for at most a half an hour.  The rest of the class will be dedicated to a critical discussion of the academic readings and case for the class.  My role will that more of a moderator rather than lecturer.  Readings and class discussions will deal with all levels of government and the important intergovernmental context.  Assignments will include some of the classic literature in the field as well as case studies that will be used for purposes of illustration and discussion. 



Students will be responsible for reading the assigned material prior to each class.  Readings will be assigned from the book listed below as well as from a package of photocopied materials to be distributed later.


Stillman, Richard  Public Administration Concepts and Cases 7/e

Osborne and Gaebler, Reinventing Government

Course Reader, articles with a * in front


You should complete the assigned reading before the topic is discussed in class. Many of the class discussions will use the readings as a point of departure, so your understanding of lecture material and corresponding ability to participate will be enhanced by having completed and understood the assigned reading.   For a class format of this type to work well, you must do all the assigned readings and actively participate in class. 


Assignments and Grading

  1. Class participation- (10% of course grade)  Participation points are not based solely on how often you participate, but rather whether your participation indicates you have prepared for class and are able to contribute.  Students will bear responsibility for leading class discussion of reading and issues. 
  2. Assessment of Local Agency- (22.5% of course grade)  Each member of the seminar will do a profile of a department of the City of Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County, New York, or federal government.  The purpose of this assignment is to learn how a typical government department or agency is organized, staffed, and financed to achieve its public mission. 
  3. Reinventing Local Agency Project- (22.5% of course grade) Using the readings and ideas about improving government performance studied in class, you will write a memorandum to your local agency about how to improve its performance.
  4. Oral Presentation- (5% of course grade) Each student will make a presentation of their research papers to the class. 
  5. Midterm Examination- (17.5% of course grade)
  6. Final Exam- (22.5% of course grade)  Both exams will involve identification of key concepts and terms as well as essays.  Study questions will be given to you in advance. 


Course Absences

            A well functioning class that promotes learning requires good attendance. Students should inform me prior to class if they must miss class on a specific day.  You are allowed two personal days (absences), after that I will deduct 2.5% from your final grade.  For example, you receive a 90% as your final grade, but have missed four classes; your final grade is an 85%.  I stress attendance not only for your benefit, but also for the benefit of your classmates.  While it is entirely possible that you personally could excel in this course with more than 2 absences, your poor attendance makes it more difficult for your classmates, collectively, to excel.  You have an unlimited number of excused absences for illnesses, family crises, etc, though they count against your two absences.  For each of these absences, you must provide written excuse from the Dean of Students’ office. 


Course Outline

Section I  The Political Context of Public Administration


September 5  Introduction- What is Public Administration

            *Garth Cook, Working For the Government is Cool, p. 30-36


September 10  The Search for the Scope and Purpose of Public Administration 

Woodrow Wilson:  The Study of Administration

*Behn, The Big Questions of Public Management

*Kettl, Challenges for 21st Century Governance

Case Study 1 The Blast in Centralia No. 5: A Mine Disaster No One Stopped


Section II.  The Pattern of Public Administration in America: Its Environment, Structure, and People

September 12  The Formal Structure: The Concept of Bureaucracy 

Reading 2:  Bureaucracy (Max Weber) 

Case Study 2:  How Kristin Died (George Lardner, Jr.)


            *** Selection of Local Agency Due ***


September 17 The General Environment: The Concept of Ecology 

Reading 3:  The Ecology of Public Administration (John M. Gaus) 

Case Study 3: Dumping $2.6 Million on Bakersfield (Or How Not to Build a Migratory Farm Workers' Clinic) (Michael Aron) 

A Retrospective: Weedpatch Revisited (B.J. Moore)


September 19 The Political Environment: The Concept of Administrative Power 

Reading 4: Power and Administration (Norton E. Long) 

Case Study 4: The Last Flight of Space Shuttle Challenger (Michael T. Charles)


September 24 Intergovernmental Relations (IGR): The Concept of IGR as Interdependence, Complexity and Bargaining 

Reading 5: American Intergovernmental Relations: An Overview (Laurence J. O'Toole, Jr.) 

Case Study 5: Wichita Confronts Contamination (Susan Rosegrant)


September 26  Internal Dynamics: The Concept of the Informal Group 

* Wilson, Bureaucracy, Chapter 6, p. 90-113

(Skim) Reading 6: Hawthorne and Western Electric Company (Elton Mayo) 

Case Study 6: Uniforms in the Closet (Jennifer Egan)


October 1  Key Decision Makers Inside Public Administration: The Concept of Competing Bureaucratic Subsystems 

Don Kettl, Chapter 7 The Executive Branch, The Politics of the Administrative Process, p. 88-110

Wilson, Bureaucracy, Chapter 10, 179-195

Case Study 7: The Decision to Bomb the Serbs (Elaine Sciolino and Ethan Bronner)

** Exercise-  Who wants to go to war with Iraq?




Section III   The Multiple Functions of Public Administrators: Their Major Activities, Responsibilities, and Roles


October 8 Decision Making: The Concept of Incremental Choice 

Reading 8: The Science of "Muddling Through" (Charles E. Lindblom) 

Case:  Cost Benefit Analysis:  Road Through Wallingford


Movie/Militia Recruitment Night:  Waco:  Terms of Engagement


October 10 Administrative Communication: The Concept of Its Professional Centrality 

Reading 9: Administrative Communication (Or How to Make All the Rest Work): The Concept of Professional Centrality (James L. Garnett) 

Case Study 9: Waco (William J. Vizzard)


October 15  Executive Management: The Concept of Effective Public Organization 

Reading 10: Galloping Elephants: Developing Elements of a Theory of Effective Government Organizations (Hal G. Rainey and Paula Steinbauer) 

Case Study 10: The Lessons of ValueJet 592 (William Langewiesche)


October 17  Implementation

            *Garvey, Chapter 11, Section 1 and 2

            *Paul Sabatier, Two Decades of Implementation Research, 281-293

*Garvey, Chapter 11, Case 10,  Dealing with Domestic Violence


October 18 Friday **** Rough Draft of Paper 1 Due ****


October 22 Public Budgeting:

* Library Budget Exercise


October 24   Oral Presentations on Assessment of Local Agency


October 29   Oral Presentations on Assessment of Local Agency

******** Paper 1 Due********


Section IV.  Improving Public Administration- Reinventing Government


October 31 Is Performance Measurement the Answer?

Osbourne and Gaebler, Ch 5, Results Oriented Government 138-165

Wilson, Bureaucracy, Chap 9, Compliance, p. 154-175


November 5 Is Privatization the Answer?

Osbourne and Gaebler, Chapter 10, p. 280-310

Wilson, Bureaucracy, Chap 19, Markets  p. 346-364

George Kelling, How to Run a Police Department


November 7  Is Mission Driven Government a Real Solution

Osbourne and Gaebler, Chapter 4 108-137

Wilson, Bureaucracy, Chap 17 Problems, Ch 18 Rules, p 315-344

Daniel Franklin, The FEMA Phoenix


November 12  Personnel

Osbourne and Gaebler, Reinventing government 

Wilson, Chap 8 People, 137-153

**Personnel Exercise—Find out how to apply for a public sector job


Section V.  Rediscovering Government in the Aftermath of September 11, 2001

--articles to be provided; from a forthcoming edition of Public Administration Review


November 14 Triumph of Public Service

Steven Cohen, Catastrophe and the Public Service: A Case Study of the Government Response to the Destruction of the World Trade Center


November 19             The Problem of Airport Security

H. George Frederickson and Todd R. LaPorte, Airport Security, High Reliability, and the Problem of Rationality


November 21 Homeland Security

Organizing the War on Terrorism  (William L. Waugh, Jr. and Richard T. Sylves)

Reorganizing for National Security and Homeland Security (William W. Newmann)


Section VI.  Enduring and Unresolved Relationships: Central Value Questions, Issues, and Dilemmas of Contemporary Public Administration

November 26  The Relationship Between Bureaucracy and the Public Interest: The Concept of Public Sector Deregulation 

reading 15: Bureaucracy and the Public Interest (James Q. Wilson) 

case study 15: But No Cigar: How a Rescue Mission Failed, Just Barely, in Orange County (Laura Jereski)  Epilogue (Alan Saltzstein)


November 28  No Class, Thanksgiving


December 2, Friday  Draft of Paper #2 Due


December 3  The Relationship Between Ethics and Public Administration: The Concept of Competing Ethical Obligations 

 reading 16: Public Administration and Ethics: A Prologue to a Preface (Dwight Waldo) 

 case study 16: Madonna's Sex (Douglas F. Morgan)



            ***********Peer Review of Paper Due*********



            ***********Final Paper #2 Due*********