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PS572 - Public Administration

Professor Brent S. Steel
Department of Political Science
307 Social Science Hall
Oregon State University
Corvallis, Oregon 97330-6206
(541) 737-6133
Bsteel@orst.edu

Class: Tuesday at 6:00 pm, 108 Gilkey Hall
Office Hours: TR 1300-1400 or before/after class [GILKEY 311]

This course is a basic introduction to public administration for graduate students. The course will be organized in seminar format and incorporate interdisciplinary topics and case studies. Topics to be covered include the role of bureaucracy in the political process, theories of public organizations, bureaucratic discretion and accountability, policy implementation, and the changing nature of public administration in postindustrial America. While the class will focus on the United States, a comparative approach will be used to highlight unique features of the American system.

The seminar will meet Tuesday evenings at 6:00 pm. Evaluation of students mastery of course content will be done through their leadership of selected seminar topics and a course research paper incorporating discussion topics and readings.

Course Introduction

This seminar is a basic introduction to public administration for graduate students. Topics to be covered include the role of bureaucracy in the political process, theories of public organizations, bureaucratic discretion and accountability, policy implementation, and the changing nature of public administration in postindustrial America. While the class will focus on the United States, a comparative approach will be used to highlight unique features of the American system.

The seminar will meet Tuesday evenings at 6:00 pm. Evaluation of students mastery of course content will be done through their leadership of selected seminar topics and a course research paper incorporating discussion topics and readings.

Our goal is to develop a solid understanding of public administration theory, research and conceptswith an emphasis on important dimensions of policy formulation and implementation. What sorts of theories and models are available to describe and explain those processes? What evidence supports the theories and models? What theories of public policy might we be able to generate and how might we go about testing those theories? During our consideration of assigned readings, we want to maintain a critical attitude. That involves looking for shortcomings in theory, logic, and evidence in the materials, but it also involves asking how the materials can be extended in new directions to further enhance our knowledge of administrative processes.

A central objective of the course is to introduce students to major research dealing with public administration so that you will know and understand some of the most important and best work that is being done in the field. A second objective is to encourage you to develop your own research interests and skills. In other words, we want to promote scholarship, which is concerned with the development, testing, and application of theory.

A seminar is distinguished from a class in that students in a seminar are expected to provide the major set of intellectual stimuli for consideration, with the instructor guiding and assisting students and, during discussions, assisting in the synthesis of diverse student input. The seminar will be collegial in the sense that there is a genuine search for answers to some of the more vexing intellectual problems associated with the study of public administration. Ultimately, however, the success of the seminar as a learning experience for all participants will depend on the commitment and participation of each class member.

Course Assignments
  1. Leadership of class discussion of assigned readings. Two (sometimes three) students will be assigned to present one evening's readings during the quarter. Students should divide the material fairly, but take sole responsibility for their own readings. The presentation should follow the Preparation Guidelines listed below.
  2. You are to write a comparative book review for Goodsells The Case for Bureaucracy: A Public Administration Polemic and Ostrom's The Intellectual Crisis in American Public Administration. The comparative book review should be approximately 6-8 pages and be organized as follows: (1) Introduction: Title and general subject matter of each book; (2) Themes: What are the major themes investigated in the books and how do they differ?; (3) Arguments: What arguments, hypotheses, etc. does each author make concerning themes of the books? Be sure to identify differences/similarities; (4) Analysis: What are your thoughts on each book? Are the themes appropriate? Do you agree with any conclusions or arguments made? Are there any contemporary events that contradict or reinforce the arguments of either book?; (5) Conclusion: Relevant concluding comments concerning the book. The comparative book review is due November 26 or sooner (Friday).
  3. Students are expected to participate in class discussions throughout the quarter [both quality and quantity of discussion count, but quality counts more than quantity]
  4. Preparation of a concept paper on some aspect of public administration. The concept paper may address a topic covered in the course, but it may also address topics that we do not cover in class. The concept paper will be a research design in which you identify some aspect of public administration that requires explanation, examine the relevant literature, develop/apply a theory to explain the phenomena of interest, and prepare a research design to test the theory. The topic for your paper should be presented and accepted by me no later than October 12. You should prepare a draft problem statement, literature review, and theoretical exposition by November 23 or sooner. The final paper is due December 7 by 6:00 pm (at the time of your in-class final exam).
  5. Although individuals will be assigned to lead the discussion of particular readings, I expect everyone to be prepared for each class period, including having read all readings assigned for that session.
  6. There will be a cumulative final exam on December 7 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The final essay exam will focus on the various theoretical perspectives encountered throughout the course. You will be allowed FOUR pages of notes to use during the exam.
  7. All students are required to summarize the readings for October 5 in a 3-4 page review (due in class on October 12), and then participate in a Blackboard Discussion October 5 & 6 with your fellow students concerning a topic related to these readings. We will not hold class on October 5 (Prof. Steel will be at USGS meetings in Ft. Collins, CO). To participate in the discussion, you will need to access the course blackboard site and then select "COMMUNICATION." Next you will select "DISCUSSION BOARD" and then finally you will select the appropriate topic. The 3-4 readings review should summarize trends and themes evident in the assigned readings (use proper citation and quotes to emphasize important concepts).
Presentations Guidelines

For your presentation, you should be prepared to ...

  • Work with your fellow presenters on the organization of the evenings presentation.
  • Summarize the reading.
  • Identify the critical issues of theory and research that it addresses.
  • Critique it by analyzing strengths and weaknesses of the analysis (see last bullet below).
  • Indicate possible extensions of the analysis.
  • Lead your classmates in a discussion related to the article.
  • Provide a short written summary for classmates.
  • AVOID READING YOUR PRESENTATION AT ALL COSTSIT IS BORING, ESPECIALLY IN A NIGHT CLASS.
  • All studentsboth presenters and listenersmust be thoughtful, tolerant, open minded, and respectful of others. Intelligent people can and do have different positions on many of the issues and theories we will encounter. Overly ideological presentations will be penalized.
Grading
Task: Points Possible: Due Date:
October 5 Blackboard discussion & 3-4 page readings review. 25 points  
Presentations 50 points  
Comparative book review 100 points  
Class Participation 50 points  
Concept Paper 100 points  
Final Essay Exam 100 points  
TOTAL = 425 POINTS  
Required Texts
  • Jay Shafritz, Albert Hyde and Sandra Parkes, Classics of Public Administration, 5th ed. Wadsworth, 2005. Labled as SHP below.
  • Robert Denhardt, Theories of Public Organization, 4th ed. Wadsworth, 2004.
  • Vincent Ostrom, The Intellectual Crisis in American Public Administration, 2nd ed. Alabama, 1989.
  • Charles Goodsell, The Case for Bureaucracy, 4th ed. CQ Press, 2004.
Web Readings
Course Policy
  • Late assignments will be penalized 5 points each day late. This policy will be strictly enforced. By definition, "late" means any assignment submitted after the scheduled class period.
  • Extra credit will not be allowed in this course.
  • All OSU academic regulations will be followed in this course. Academic regulations are available at: http://www.orst.edu/dept/clasked/acareg.htm . This includes the university policy concerning incompletes: "When a requirement of a course has not been completed for reasons acceptable to the instructor and the rest of the academic work is passing, a report of I may be made and additional time granted. The I is only granted at the discretion of the instructor.
  • You are expected to do all required reading and participate in all course requirements.
  • Plagiarism and cheating will not be tolerated in this course. Engaging in such behaviors will result in a failing course grade. You are to do ALL of your own work. Plagiarism is defined as representing (and using) another person's ideas, writings, and work as one's own. Appropriate citation must be used for all materials incorporated into your work.
  • Proper spelling, grammar, and citation should be used in all assignments.
Evaluation Criteria

The following criteria will be used for evaluating written assignments and exams:
[1=Poor; 2=Average; 3=Good; 4=Excellent]

  • COMMITMENT -did you cover all relevant materials/questions?
  • AMBITION -did you take each issue to task?
  • ENGAGEMENT-did you make connections between issues?
  • CLARITY-was the work readable and well organized?
  • READINGS/COURSE MATERIALS-did you use appropriate reading and other course materials in your work?
  • COMPARISON-in general, how did your work compare to the rest of the class?
  • DIRECTIONS-a "no brainer" here. Did you follow directions?
Final Grade Distribution

Letter Grade Percent of points possible
A [95-100%]
A- [90-94%]
B+ [87-89%]
B [83-86%]
B- [80-82%]
C+ [77-79%]
C [73-76%]
C- [70-72%]
D+ [67-69%]
D [63-66%]
D- [60-62%]
F [0-59%]
Schedule

Date: Topics: Readings: Discussion Leaders
September 28 Introductions

Introduction to Public
Administration
The Growth of Government &
administration: A Developmental Perspective

Intellectual Heritage of Public
AdministrationWeber, Marx & Freud

Intellectual Heritage of Public
AdministrationWilson to Waldo

Denhardt, Chapters 1, 2 & 3; Goodsell, Chapter 1. Steel
Historical Development of Modern Public Administration
October 5 Historical Development of Public
Administration:
1880s to 1920s
SHP, pp. 1-15; chapters 2,
3, 5, 6, 7 & 8
Blackboard discussion & 3-4 page review of readings
October 5 & 6  
October 12-19 Historical Development of Public Administration: 1930s to 1950s SHP, pp. 73-89; chapters 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21 & 22 Cliff Ham
&
Michael Payne
October 12 3-4 Page Review of October 5 Readings Due at 6:00 pm
October 19-26 Historical Development of Public Administration: 1960s to 1970s SHP, pp. 189-205; chapters 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 33, 36 & 37 Melissa Torgerson
&
Jay Grussing
October 26-November 2 Historical Development of Public Administration: 1980s to 1990s SHP, pp. 371-395; chapters 39, 40, 42, 43, 45, 46, 47, 48, 51, 53, 54 Bridget Burns
&
Alex Johnson
November 2 After finishing the readings, we will retire to a local establishment to watch elections returns.
Theoretical Perspectives in Public Administration
November 9 Theoretical Perspectives in Public
Administration Rational Model

Organizational Humanism & New Public Management

The New Public Management

The New Public Service and other critical theories

Denhardt, chapters 4, 5, 6, 7 David Schaefer
&
Jonathan Barbur
November 16 The Public Choice Perspective Ostrom, entire book;
Congressional Republicans' & the Size of Government web reading.
Meghan Lewis
&
Katrien Corsetti
November 23 The Case for Bureaucracy: A Critique of Public Choice Theory Neiman, entire book;

"Revenge of the Nerds"
web reading
Eriks Zarins
&
Kristin Feindel
November 23 Concept Paper Draft Due
November 30 Comparative Book Review Due
November 30 Class Conclusion: THEORIES OF EMERGENCE
  1. Integrative Public Administration, Mary Parker Follett
  2. Natural Selection Theory, Karl Weick
  3. Transformational Theory, Orion White and Cynthia McSwain
  4. An End to Hierarchy and Competition, Frederick Taylor
Handout Steel
December 7 Final Concept Paper Due at 6:00 pm
Final Exam at 6:00 pm

Note: "Students with documented disabilities who may need accommodations, who have any emergency medical information the instructor should know, or who need special arrangements in the event of evacuation, should make an appointment with the instructor as early as possible (use email for this class), no later than the first week of the term. In order to arrange alternative testing the student should make the request at least one week in advance of the test. Students seeking accommodations should be registered with the Office of Services for Students with disabilities."