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Public Administration. First session Prof. Denise Scheberle. Welcome. First card: write your name, what you hope to learn in this class, something interesting or fun about you, your learning style, and attach a picture

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Public administration l.jpg

Public Administration

First session

Prof. Denise Scheberle

Welcome l.jpg

  • First card: write your name, what you hope to learn in this class, something interesting or fun about you, your learning style, and attach a picture


  • Large card: Fold in half and write your first name; bring it to class next two weeks

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Nature of the class

  • Interactive

  • Thoughtful

  • Challenging

  • Open

  • Six discussion teams for case studies

    • Summary, lessons, application

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  • Say hello! Assign team leaders and decide how to take attendance.

  • Create a short list of guidelines or ground rules for team and class discussion

  • Turn in extra copy of assignments and list of guidelines to me.

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Learning styles typology

  • Active and reflective learners

  • Sensing and intuitive learners

  • Visual and verbal learners

  • Sequential and global learners

  • Thoughts? Any surprises? Confirmations?

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Critical thinking

  • Process of avoiding one’s preconceptions by gathering evidence, contemplating and evaluating alternatives, and coming to a conclusion

  • Thought that is disciplined, comprehensive, based on intellectual standards, and, as a result, is well-reasoned

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What is public administration?

  • “PA may be defined as all processes, organizations and individuals associated with carrying out laws and other rules adopted or issued by legislatures, executives and courts.”

    • Inclusive definition: administrators are the foremost, but not the only individuals in PA

    • Gordon/Milakovich (authors)

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Other definitions of PA

  • “Public administration is detailed and systematic execution of the law”

    • Woodrow Wilson

    • includes only the administrator

    • excludes policy formulation as well as elected officials

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still other definitions

  • “Whatever governments do for good or ill. It is public administration’s political context that makes it public--that distinguishes it from private or business administration.”

    • Shafritz and Russell

    • both inclusive and confusing!

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What can we conclude about PA?

  • it is conveys activity

  • concerned with public service (what government can give to people)

  • tends to be concentrated in the executive branch

  • usually connected with implementing the law

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PA is also a field of study

  • People take undergraduate and graduate courses to learn how to manage public programs and respond to public needs

  • Also learn how to operate in a public rather than a private environment

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How are public and private administration different?

  • goals

  • incentives

  • flexibility

  • performance measures

  • oversight

  • other ways?

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Tensions faced by public administrators

  • Efficiency v. Effectiveness

    • reaching public goals or measuring activities?

  • Responsiveness v. Accountability

    • responding to public needs or filling out reports?

  • Difference between outputs and outcomes

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For Thursday

  • what does Wilson mean by “science of administration”?

  • how does Wilson feel about the relationship between politics and administration?

  • what does Wilson mean by the “murderous fellow” sentence?

  • NEW: Are Wilson’s arguments still valid? Why or why not?

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Public opinion of PA

  • Public support of PA has decreased since 1950s, even though professionalism and accountability have increased.

  • Why?

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For Tuesday: Blast case

  • Who bears the blame for the disaster in Centralia?

  • What are the central causes of the tragedy?

  • What are the lessons we can take from this case?

  • What connections do you see to Wilson’s essay?

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How to prepare a case write-up

  • Summary/Overview

  • Lessons

  • Connections

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People don’t like government…

  • I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.

  • That’s good enough for government work.

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Part III

  • how does Wilson justify looking to other countries for ideas for public administration?

  • what does Wilson mean by the “murderous fellow” sentence?

  • solving what problem will allow us to “pilot the world”?

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  • What do you think of when you think of bureaucracy?

  • Bureaucracy is a way of organizing to achieve work

  • Class example

  • Bureaucracy is intended to maintain control and coordination of large groups

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Max Weber (1864-1920)

  • German economist and social historian

  • wrote essay on bureaucracy in 1911

  • remains the most influential statement of what bureaucracy is, and what problems are

  • three types of authority

    • traditional, charismatic, legal-rational

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Major elements of a bureaucracy

  • Fixed authority and official jurisdiction

    • specialization

  • written, formal rules

  • impersonal administration

  • hierarchy of offices

    • chain of command

  • career service with employment based on qualifications

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Negative consequences

  • monopolize information

  • hard to destroy

  • ambivalent about democracy

  • dehumanizing of the bureaucrat

  • ability of anyone to control

  • powerful

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Thinking about bureaucracy

  • Do you agree with all, some or none of Weber’s negative consequences?

  • What examples do you have that support or refute his arguments?

  • Why have bureaucracies come to mean inefficient rather than efficient organizations?