Mppa 5315 current issues in public policy and administration


Your assignment is to consider of the following statements/questions and write an essay around 8 – 10 pages. You are free to use whatever materials that you like, but I am much more interested in your own observations and analysis.

1. In attempting to define the field of public administration, several authors have commented that public administration has its origins in the Progressive era and the reform of government and/or society.  The field, according to these authors, has never deviated from these roots.  Explain how this statement is or is not true today.

2. The dichotomy between bureaucracy and democracy or politics and administration is one of the fundamental tensions in public administration.  Discuss the underlying factors involved in this tension. Why, despite its undemocratic character, does bureaucracy remain central to governance?

3. In a 1947 speech Winston Churchill stated “it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Democracy means rule by the people, but the people are not experts.  Public managers are the experts in their area of policy.  Discuss how we can achieve democracy, efficiency, and effectiveness in government administration.  What makes democracy ‘work’ within the context of current public administration?

4. A critical part of the role of public and nonprofit management is to get the best performance from the fewest resources, all while serving the public interest. Market-based strategies are among the tools available to achieve this.  Explain in a City Council report how you would explore at least one market-based alternative to the current city employee-provided refuse system.  What criteria would you propose the Council apply to review the current refuse service delivery system and the selection of the most beneficial service direction for the city?

5. “Leadership mobilizes, naked power coerces” (Burns, 1978).  Using either a transformational or incremental approach to leadership, observe how public organizations can involve a blend of managing results, managing relationships, as well as managing in the public interest ethically.   

6. The classical theories of organizations (i.e. Weber’s bureaucratic theory; Taylor’s scientific management) argued that there is “one best way” to structure organizations. Explain how organizational scholarship has evolved since these early approaches. What do we know at the beginning of the 21st century about how to best structure organizations? 

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