Political Science 532

POSC 532

Public Organization Theory & Leadership

Catalog Entry

POSC 532: Public Organization Theory & Leadership

Credit Hours:  3   

Prerequisite: Graduate standing or permission of instructor.

Brief Description of Course:  Focuses on transformational leadership theories, the impact of leadership on organizational behavior/culture, and public sector revitalization in order to examine the role of (visionary) leadership in the redesign of public organizations to:  (a) “fit” or become congruent with their turbulent operating environment(s); (b) enhance efficiency outcomes; and (c) fulfill their legislative, judicial, and/or political mandate. 


Detailed Description of Content of the Course

Two dominant themes of the course will be to distinguish between (a) leadership and change in public - - as opposed to business - - organizations and (b) the roles of leaders and managers in organization life.  The course will be divided into four major categories:

1.       Survey of Leadership and Organization Theory Theories

A.     Classical leadership theories

B.     Historical basis of Organization Theory

C.     Contemporary leadership and organization change theories

D.    The causal relationship between leadership and organization transformation


2.       Leadership and Management Concepts

A.     Redefining the leadership concept in contemporary organizations

B.     The role of manager in the modern organizations

C.     The defining characteristics, and distinctions, between leaders and managers


3.       Organization Structure and Design

A.     Strategy, Structure, and Organization Effectiveness

B.     Turbulent Operating Environments and Technology

C.     Bureaucracy, Cultural Change, and Job Redesign

D.    Leadership’s role in the creation of High Performing/High Reliability Organizations


4.      Leadership, Culture, and Public Sector Organization Change

A.     Identification of major stakeholders (i.e., taxpayers, interest groups, politicians, and the media)

B.     “Unique” Norm-based and Affective Public Sector Motivations

C.     HR/Personnel Administration and Compensation issues

D.    Constitutional and Ethical issues


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

This course will employ two fundamental instructional strategies:  First, students will be expected to actively engage in class discussions and introduce “cutting edge” visionary leadership and organization redesign strategies that improve public agency efficiency in the delivery of essential goods and services.  Second, students are expected to complete a case study research paper/project on the effectiveness of a political or public sector leader in facilitating the redesign of a contemporary public (or possibly business) organization.  Examples could include President Barack Obama’s call for the redesign of (a) Medicare and/or (b) General Motors or Chrysler (as recipients of federal bail-out loans). 


Graduate students will assess an Organization Theory/Leadership case study from either Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government or Harvard’s Graduate School of Business. In addition, graduate students enrolled in this course will either (a) design their own case study analysis of the leadership style and strategic change processes in a public organization that is facilitating organization transformation and/or (b) volunteer to consult with a public organization involved in strategic change.


Goals and Objectives of this Course

Having successfully completed the course, the student will be able to:

1.           Explain various historical and contemporary leadership theories and organization

change strategies;

2.        Summarize the political dynamics and institutional processes that differentiate           Organization Theory/Change in the Public Sector as opposed to Organization           Theory/Change in Private Sector organizations;

3.        Identify  - - and distinguish - - three types of change leadership (i.e., charismatic,           transformational, and instrumental);

4.        Explain the relationship between visionary change leadership and organization           redesign/employee behavior; and

5.        Effectively utilize academic journals related to the fields of Public Administration,           Leadership, Organization Theory, and Economics


Assessment Measures

The Professor may evaluate students on the following criteria:

1.     Formal oral presentations;

2.     Leadership and Organization Theory case study analysis; and

3.     Mid-term and final exams


Other Course Information:  

Bibliography:  (a) Leadership in Organizations  (6th) - - Gary Yukl; (b)  Classics of Organization Theory (5th) - - Jay Shafritz, J. Steven Ott, Yon Suk Jang; (c) Nudge:  Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness - - Richard Thaler and Cass Sustein;  (d)  Organization Theory, New Pay, and Public Sector Transformations - - Reginald Shareef; (e) Teaching Public Sector Ethics to Graduate Students:  The Public Values/Public Failure Decision-Making Model, Journal of Public Affairs Education, Fall 2008 - - Reginald Shareef; (f)  Want Better Business Theories?  Maybe Karl Popper Has the Answer, Academy of Management Learning & Education, June 2007 - - Reginald Shareef; and (g)  three Review of Public Personnel Administration journal articles- -  written by Reginald Shareef between 1994-2002- -  on the topic of using New Pay concepts to trigger strategic organizational change in public organizations.


Review and Approval

Approved:  November, 2009