PSPA 530:  Local and Metropolitan Governance

Fall 2005


Professor:                   Curt Wood

Class Times:              Thursday,3-540 PM, DuSable 252

Office Hours:             Thursday: 1:00-2:30 PM and by appointment

Office Room No.        213 IASBO Building


Office Phone:             (815) 753-6144



Course Objectives and Description

            This course is designed to provide the student with an understanding of the major public administration theories influencing the discipline, changing structures of local government, the interplay of politics and administration, and the theory and practice of local and regional governance in a metropolis.

            During the first half of the semester, the professor will focus on the types of local government, the role of public administration in a democratic society, the relationship between elected officials and public administrators, professionalism and ethics, theories of institutionalism and the changing structures of local government, the settings, roles and responsibilities of local government leaders, policymaking and the role of the governing body, and the future of local government administration.

            During the second half of the course, the focus will be on how public managers reconcile the tension between localism and regionalism, between what is good for the community and what is good for the region. Theories and strategies about how to organize the metropolis politically and administratively will be examined.  Empirical studies concerning the relationship between suburbs and the central city will be studied, as will the role of the suburbs in the modern urban setting. Theories of cooperation will also be examined. The concept of metropolitan governance as an alternative to fragmentation and consolidation will be explored.


Teaching Philosophy

It is my goal to train graduate students to think critically about the major theories of public administration and to link theory with practice through case studies. I will challenge students to think actively by taking responsibility for and becoming involved in their own learning inside and outside the classroom.


Required Texts


1) Carver, John. 1997. Boards that Make a Difference. San Francisco, CA.: Jossey-Bass.

2) Frederickson, H. George and John Nalbandian, eds. 2002. The Future of Local Government Administration. ICMA.

3) Miller, David Y. 2002. The Regional Governing of Metropolitan America. Cambridge, MA. Westview Press.

4) Feiock, Richard C. (editor). 2004. Metropolitan Governance: Conflict, Competition, and Cooperation, Georgetown University Press.

5) Lewis, Paul G. 1996. Shaping Suburbia: How Political Institutions Organize Urban Development.  University of Pittsburgh Press.

6) Rusk, David. 2003. Cities Without Suburbs. Third edition. Woodrow Wilson Center Press, Washington, D.C.

Supplemental Readings:

            In addition, there is a packet of readings and case studies that are on reserve at the NIU Library on the DeKalb campus that all students are required to use for this course.


Critical Book Reviews:

            Students must write a critical review of the Carver, Miller, Rusk, Lewis, and Feiock books.       In addition, doctoral students of public administration will be required to submit a book review and critique of H. George Frederickson, Gary A. Johnson, and Curtis H. Wood’s book titled The Adapted City: Institutional Dynamics and Structural Change or Robert Agranoff and Michael McGuire’s book titled Collaborative Public Management. The Frederickson et al. book review is due on or before October 7 and the Agranoff and McGuire book review is due on or before November 17.

            The book reviews should be approximately four (4) pages, double-spaced, one-inch margins, and 12 point. Please identify, analyze, and critique the major themes/theses/theories of each book, describe the author’s findings, and explore the implications for public administrators, using case studies and experience as a guide. The idea is to integrate theory and practice. 

Grades will be based on the quality of the content and writing. Late book reviews will not be accepted.



            There will be not be a midterm or final exam so each student can focus maximum attention on the five (5) critical book reviews, the case studies, and the research paper.


Case Studies

            Each student is expected to read and answer the questions to the four (4) case studies in the course. Answers should be thoughtful, thorough, but also concise. Students should use the theories or concepts learned from the readings and professional experience to defend or justify the answers. The idea is to integrate theory and practice. Case study answers will be handed in at class on the due date. Late case studies will not be accepted. Case study answers are to be approximately two (2) pages, typed, double-spaced, one-inch margins, and 12 point. Grades will be based on the quality of the content and writing.


Research Project

            Each student is to write a research paper on a relevant local or regional public management or governance issue, challenge, or topic. You should test or critically evaluate a theory or theories of public administration from this course, drawing upon an academic literature over and above what was required in the course.  In addition, you may conduct interviews or surveys of experts in the field. It may be very desirable to choose a major issue, challenge, or event in the local government or public organization in which you currently work. The research paper is due the last class. No late research papers will be accepted.

            Your research paper should be between 10-15 pages including title page and bibliography, double-spaced, 12 point, and with one-inch margins.

            Each student will be required to prepare an abstract of their research paper not to exceed 250 words that they will hand out to each student and the professor the last class and present to the class. Each student will have a maximum of 5 minutes to present his or her abstract. Grades will be based on the quality of the content, writing, and the oral presentation. 


Class Participation and Attendance

            Attending class is a prerequisite for participation. In order to meaningfully participate, each student must be prepared for class.  Each student is expected to have read the material prior to coming to class.  Each student is expected to fully participate in class discussion and the in-class case studies. In addition, each student is encouraged to ask questions during class and during the question and answer session after the practitioner has given the lecture.


Basis for Calculating Course Grade

Letter grades will be based on the standard 100 percent scale (e.g. 90% – 100% = A, 80% – 89% = B, 70% - 79% = C, etc.).  The following components are the criteria for calculating the course grade.

5 book reviews                         50%

4 Case Studies                                     20%

Research project                                  20%

Participation/Attendance                       10%





Week 1 (Aug 25): Introduction                                

Student and professor introductions.

Go over syllabus

Talk about Blackboard


Week 2 (September 1): Types of local government

            Miller—Chapter 3 and pages 106-108.

            Frederickson and Nalbandian   #2, article by Wikstrom (page 27-29)-Special Districts                                                                 #11, article by Cigler and response (157-180)-Counties

            H. George Frederickson           “Quasi-Governmental Organizations”, in Public             Administration With an Attitude, published by ASPA, pages 146-150 (Found in                                   packet)


            Lecture: Types of Local Government


Week 3 (September 8): Professionalism and Ethics in Local Government Administration

            Frederickson and Nalbandian   #12, article by William Hansell and response (181-195)

            Case Study #1 due: Public Scrutiny and Accountability: An Ethical Dilemma in State      Administration (Found in packet)


            Lecture: Professionalism and Ethics


            Group discussions: 5 case studies


            Discuss assigned case study


Week 4 (September 15): Policymaking and the Role of the Governing Body (Board)

            Critical review of the John Carver book is due.


            Lecture on political control of bureaucracy


Group work and then a class discussion of Carver’s book.


Week 5 (September 22): The Democratic and Political Context of Local Government Administration

            Frederickson and Nalbandian    #1, article by Ihrke and response (3-20)

                                                               #3, article by Svara and response (43-58)

                                                               #4, article by Wheeland and response (59-67)


Svara, James. 2001. “The Myth of the Dichotomy: Complementarity of Politics and Administration in the Past and Future of Public Administration.” PAR, March/April (Vol. 61, No. 2) (Found in packet).


Tim Long, City Manager of Geneseo, Illinois will be the guest lecturer and facilitator.


Week 6 (September 29): The Settings, Roles, and Responsibilities of Local Government Leaders

            Frederickson and Nalbandian    #8, article by Feiock and Stream and response (117-130)

                                                               #9, article by Dunn and Legge, Jr. and response (131-144)

                                                               #14, article by Svara and response (213-230)

            Group work and then class discussion


Week 7 (October 6): The Changing Forms of American Cities

            Frederickson and Nalbandian      #5, article by DeSantis and Renner and response (71-84)

                                                               #6, article by Frederickson, Johnson, and Wood (85-100)

                                                               #7, article by Frederickson, Wood, and Logan and                                                                      response (101-113)

             “The Changing Structure of American Cities: A Study of the Diffusion of Innovation” by             H. George Frederickson, Gary Johnson, and Curtis Wood (PAR May/June 2004, Vol. 64,             No. 3) (Found in packet).


            Case # 2 due – Smithville, U.S.A: Adapting to the Adapted City (Found in packet)

            No class as the professor will be at the SECoPA conference. Instead, students will answer questions to the above readings that are to be found in the packet. The answers to the assigned case study, the answers to the questions from the readings, and the book review from the Frederickson et al. book for those doctoral students who chose this book are due in the public administration office no later than Friday, October 7. 


Week 8 (October 13): Regional Government and Governance

            Frederickson and Nalbandian       #2, article by Wikstrom and response (21-42)

  #10, article by Meek, Schildt, and Witt and response          (145-156)

            Kurt Thurmaier and Curtis Wood  “Interlocal Agreements as overlapping Social                                                                                              Networks: Picket-Fence Regionalism” (Found in                                                                                     packet)


            Case Study # 3 due– Fixing the Broken MAST-The Future of the Regional Ambulance                                                           Service (Found in packet)


            Lecture on regionalism


            Discuss assigned case study in class


Week 9 (October 20): Regional Governance

            David Miller—Entire book. Critical book review due.


            Lecture: How Best to Organize the metropolis?


            Discussion of Miller’s book.


Week 10 (October 27): Cities Without Suburbs


            David Rusk—Entire book. Critical book review due and there will be an in-class           discussion of Rusk’s book.


            Lecture: Impact of Consolidation


Week 11 (November 3): Shaping Suburbia: How Political Institutions Organize Urban Development


            Paul G. Lewis– Entire book.  Critical book review due.


            Denise Bulat, Executive Director of the Bi-State Regional Commission in the Quad-       Cities region, will be our guest lecturer and facilitator.


            Discussion will center on relating theories of regional governance with the practice in      the Quad Cities region.


Week 12 (November 10): Metropolitan Governance in Action


Critical book review due on Chapters 1,2,3,4,6,7,10, and 11 in the Richard C. Feiock edited book. No class, as the professor will be at ABFM Conference. Instead, students are to turn in an essay (no longer than 3 pages) that addresses the following topic: Compare and contrast the different approaches to regionalism articulated by the authors from the Richard Feiock edited book, David Rusk, and Paul Lewis, using the approaches to regionalism described by David Miller and professor Wood. The book review and essay is due in the public administration office no later than Friday November 11.


Week 13 (Nov. 17): The Future of Local Government Administration

Frederickson and Nalbandian      #13, article by Streib and Willoughby and response (199- 212)

                                                   #15, article by Chester Newland and response (231-248)

                                                               #16, article by John Nalbandian and response (249-262)


            Case #4 due: Case Study: The Future of Public Transportation in the Chicago Region    (Found in packet).


            The book review of the Agranoff and McGuire book is due for doctoral students who   chose this book.


            Group and class discussion of the readings and the assigned case study


Week 14 (November 24):  No Class due to Thanksgiving break.


Week 15 (December 1):

Research papers due. Also, each student will hand out an abstract (maximum of 250 words) of their research paper to every student and then orally present his or her abstract to the class in 5 minutes or less. There will also be a 5-minute question and answer period after each student’s presentation.


Professor Wood reserves the right to make changes to the above schedule


Academic Misconduct

            Academic misconduct is defined in the Student Judicial Code as the receipt or transmission of unauthorized aid on assignments or examinations, plagiarism, the unauthorized use of examination materials, or other forms of dishonesty. The professor is authorized by NIU to levy a sanction not greater than an F for the course.

            Whenever referencing material from the texts, supplemental readings, or lectures, students should include appropriate citations within the narrative and in a bibliography section to avoid problems of plagiarism.  Students are guilty of plagiarism, intentional or not, if they copy material from books, journals, or other sources without identifying and acknowledging those sources or if they paraphrase ideas from such sources without acknowledging them  (NIU Undergraduate Catalog). 


Statement Concerning Students with Disabilities

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building. CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors. It is important that the student inform CAAR and Professor Wood during the first two weeks of the semester of any disability-related needs.



The Writing Center provides writing assistance for all undergraduate and graduate students. The Center is located in Stevenson Towers South, Lower Level. For more information call 753-6636.



Please turn your cell phones off before coming to class. Cell phones may not be used in class, nor is it acceptable to read newspapers or bring persons not enrolled in the course to class.