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PSC 306: Public Organizations

Public Organizations: Lecture Notes

by Dr. Jeremy Lewis Revised 10 Feb. 2011



Centralia mine disaster

  • difficult staffing in wartime
  • for-profit company
  • patronage system in state government
  • layers of hierarchy
  • in company, union, inspectorate, and state government
  • management by remote control in each organization
  • inspection is not enforcement
  • regulatory capture
  • warnings do not reach top decisionmakers in each organization
  • unnecessary disaster occurs



  • Swine 'flu epidemic prevention effort
  • mutations prevent developing doses before Fall, or reusing doses
  • problem of orphaned drugs
  • government as guarantor of sales
  • sales  vary dramatically each year
  • law suit issue



  • Why did woman get killed by psychopath after ample warnings?
  • Organizations have to operate on defense only, because of civil rights & liberties
  • Probation system
  • responsibility diffused
  • case load,
  • tracking probationers, lack of addresses and communications, lack of databases
  • separate organizations, crossing boundaries, coordinating calendars
  • each organization is rule-bound (courts, probation, police)



  • FBI & CIA case study
  • 9/11 commission: attacks showed lack of imagination and lack of coordination
  • recommended a central organization to coordination
  • Mars & Venus analogy, different ways of thinking
  • FBI a criminal enforcement organization, CIA preventive by nature
  • FBI rule bound but CIA less restrained, highly educated
  • FBI "autistic" organization, unable to communicate its knowledge

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    Norton Long, "Power & Administration"

    The lifeblood of adminsitration is power.




    Decisonmaking theories: dilemmas of project planning

        * crisis versus regular decisionmaking
        * rationale comprehensive versus proximate search or incrementalism
        * timeline, deadlines
        * breaking down problems into components, staffing them out
        * leaders versus collective decisionmaking
        * participants v. free riders
        * danger of groupthink versus danger of multiversity
        * analysis paralysis versus hypervigilance

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    Implementation
  • Implementation requires successful compliance with (complex) statutes
  • efficiency is not the primary goal in the public sector
  • explanation of Matland in Stillman Ch. 13
  • Top Down models:
  • these assume the goals given by legislators
  • address how bureaus can put them into effect in a program
  • prescriptions:
  • make policy goals clear and consistent
  • minimize the number of actors
  • limit the needed change
  • locate program in a favorable agency
  • Bottom up models:
  • local organizations put into effect
  • goals from distant, central organization
  • Mapping: of goals now to objectives, future outcomes
  • Backward Mapping: where do we want to be in five years, and what do we have to compelete before then?
  • Policy Conflict comes from interdependent actors
  • Policy ambiguity of goals and means
  • Comprehensive Matland model in four quadrants

  • Low ambiguity, low conhflict >> administrative implementation, resources determine outcome
  • Low ambiguity, high conflict >> political implementation, power determines outcome
  • high ambiguity and low conflict >> experimental implementation, depends on context
  • high ambiguity and high conflict >> symbolic implementation, depends on coalition strength

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