POLS 331-2:  Intro to Public Administration

Spring 2006


Instructor:                  LeAnn Beaty                Email:  lbeaty1@niu.edu

Class Times:              Tuesday and Thursday: 12:30-1:45 pm, DuSable 246

Office Hours:             Tuesday and Wednesday: 11:00-12:00, or by appointment

Office Room No.        Dusable 476

Office Phone:             (815) 753-1818


Course Objectives and Description

This course serves as an introduction to public administration, and is designed to provide the student with an understanding of the major theories and periods of reform influencing the discipline.


During the semester we will review topics generally associated with the study of public administration such as organization theory and behavior, human resources, public policy formation and decision-making, social equity, intergovernmental relations, and administrative reforms.  Through class lecture, reading, group work, discussion, and current event assignments, students will become familiar with the primary issues and challenges facing public administrators today at the local, state, and national levels. 


Required Text




Grading Policy                                                                                           

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 course grades. 







Case Studies (5)




Book Analysis/Presentation




Midterm Examination




Final Examination





400 pts.

Below 240




*Grade based on “Fail, Meet or Exceed Criteria.”




Interview a public administrator.  Locate a person who works as a manager or analyst in a public or nonprofit organization and interview them.  The interviewees might work in a public university (cannot be an NIU employee), a local government, a state or federal agency, or a nonprofit organization.  They might be a city manager or department director (public works, parks and recreation, etc.), a county official (county clerk), a manager in state government (perhaps someone in a welfare office or the highway department), a federal government manager (in a local office of a department such as Social Security, Agriculture, or the FAA), or someone such as an association executive.   Ask the person you interview to describe their job, including the range of responsibilities they have and the knowledge, values, and skills that are important to them in their work.  The following are some examples of questions you might want to ask:


§         Describe the work you do and how you came to this position.  What is your educational and work background?

§         What impact does the work you do have on the community/state/nation/etc.?  What do you find different or unusual about working in a public organization?  How do you think your job compares to work at a comparable level in business or industry?

§         What knowledge, values, and skills are important to your work?  For instance, if you were hiring someone to take your place, what would you look for?

Source:  Denhardt & Grubbs, Public Administration, pp. 28-29.


Papers must be typed, double-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman font with 1” margins, and include a cover page and citation page (at least three citations, including the interview).  Papers are due at the beginning of the class period on Tuesday, April 11.   Late papers will be docked one full letter grade per day, based on what the original grade would have been.  Email attachments for this or any other written assignment will be deleted without review. 


Group Case Studies

During the semester students will be expected to participate in assigned case studies from the Stillman book or as provided on Blackboard.  The class will be broken into seven working groups to analyze particular aspects of the cases.  To insure that each member contributes to the group effort, students will be required to read the cases in advance of class and prepare a typed brief or outline (i.e. facts of the case, the key issue or problem, stakeholders and external environment, and implications or recommendations of the case), not to exceed 1 page.   These typed outlines will accompany the groups’ overall written position and will be collected at the conclusion of the class discussion.  Grades will be assigned according to effort (Fail (late or absent) = 0 i.e. Exceed = 10 pts.; Meet = 5 pts.; Late or Absent Outline = 0 pts.)    No make-up briefed case studies will be allowed. 


Book Analysis

Over the course of the semester, we will be discussing the different ideological premises that have been associated with the major periods of Public Administration (i.e., Traditional or Classic Approach, Behaviorists, New Public Administration, and New Public Management).  Using Denhardt  Denhardt’s The New Public Service: Serving, not Steering, you will compare and contrast two of these major periods (Traditional and New Public Management) with Denhardt’s call for a new PA paradigm:  New Public Service - hence, “Serving, not Steering.” 


Using the same working groups assigned for the case studies, each group will engage in an analysis and discussion of one chapter of the Denhardt text, focusing on the author’s theme and how it compares and contrasts with the different periods of PA.  Each group will be responsible for providing a concise written summary of their assigned chapter to every member of the class (the summary should be 1 to 2 single-spaced pages, including figures or tables), and an oral presentation to the class stating the position of the author as well as the position of the group as to which PA period they believe to be most relevant or feasible to the future of the discipline.  These presentations (20-30 minutes maximum) will take place the last three class periods of the semester; copies of the written summaries for the class will be gathered and compiled for distribution to the class on Tuesday, April 25. 


There will be one class meeting -Tuesday, April 4 - set aside for the groups to meet.  Each member is responsible for having read the Denhardt book by that date, and in particular their chapter (briefed outlines for the assigned chapter will be due from each student).  Groups wishing to meet more than once are responsible for arranging a time and meeting place; groups may request the Instructor to join them if schedules are conducive.  Group grades will be based on participation and effort (Fail = 25 points; Meet = 35 points; Exceed = 45 points).    Full credit (50 points) will be given only for demonstrable understanding of Public Service, to be determined at the discretion of each group. 


Midterm and Final Examination

There will be a midterm and a final exam, comprised of any combination of multiple choice questions, short answer or essay.  The midterm is scheduled for March 9 and the final exam is scheduled for May 11.  The final examination will not be cumulative.   Make-up exams will not be given except in cases of extreme emergency, subject to written verification and approval.    


* * * * * *


Class Schedule:  (NOTE:  The instructor reserves the right to make changes to the schedule or syllabus)


Week 1 (01/17-01/19): Introductions

Tuesday:  Course Introduction

Thursday:  Introduction to the Discipline of Public Administration

§         Stillman, Ch. 1,  pp. 1-5


Week 2 (01/24-01/26):  Rise of the Administrative State

Tuesday:   Evolution of Civil Service

§         Denhardt & Denhardt, Ch. 1&2

Thursday:  Bureaucratic State 

§         Stillman, Chapter 2:  Bureaucracy & Max Weber, pp. 54-58

§         Merton, Robert K. (1940), “Bureaucratic Structure and Personality,” pp. 560-561 [on-line]


Week 3 (01/31-02/02): Politics-Administration Dichotomy

Tuesday:  Defining the Politics-Administration (PA Dichotomy)

Stillman, Ch. 1, The Study of Administration by Woodrow Wilson, pp. 6-15

§         Goodnow, F. (1900), “Politics and Administration: A Study of government” pgs. 1-22 [on-line]

Thursday: Revisionists Debate

§         Read: Martin, D. (1988), “The Fading Legacy of Woodrow Wilson” pgs. 631-636 [on-line]

§         Svara, J. (1985), “Dichotomy and Duality: Reconceptualizing the Relationship between Policy and Administration in Council-Manager Cities” pgs. 221-232 [on-line]


Week 4 (02/07-02/09):  Politics-Dichotomy, cont’d

Tuesday:   Street-Level Bureaucrat, Guest Speaker

§         Michael Lipsky (1980), “Street-Level Bureaucracy: The Critical Role of Street-Level Bureaucrats,” In Classics [on-line]

Thursday:  A CASE STUDY: The Blast in Centralia 

§         Stillman: Case Study 1:  pp. 30-44


Week 5 (02/14-02/16):  Organization Theory (classical)

Tuesday:  Scientific Management  

§         Frederick W. Taylor, (1912).“Scientific Management” pp. 43-45 [on-line]

Thursday:   Hierarchical Bureaucracy

§         Luther Gulick, (1937) Notes on the Theory of Organization [on-line]


Week 6 (02/21-02/23):  Organization Theory (modern)

Tuesday:  Informal Organizations

§         Stillman, Ch. 6, pp. 154-177:  Hawthorne Experiments

Thursday:  A CASE STUDY: Unbuilding the World Trade Center

§         Stillman: Case Study 6: pp. 166-177


Week 7 (02/28-03/02):  Organizational Behavior

Tuesday:  Motivation Theories

§         A.H. Maslow, (1943), “A Theory of Human Motivation”  [on-line]

§         Douglas McGregor, (1957), “The Human Side of Enterprise” [on-line]

Thursday:  Evolution of Civil Service, Guest Speaker


Week 8 (03/07-03/09) Managing Human Resources

Tuesday: Compensation Theory, cont’d, Guest Speaker

Thursday: MIDTERM EXAM – Bring Blue Book


SPRING BREAK – No Classes 03/14 & 03/16


Week 9 (03/21-03/23):  Decision-Making

Tuesday:  NIU’s Masters of Public Administration (MPA) Program, Guest Speaker

Thursday:  Herbert Simon and Rational Decision-Making

§         Herbert Simon (1946), “The Proverbs of Administration” pp. 136-141[on-line]


Week 10 (03/28-03/30):  Decision-Making, cont’d

Tuesday:  Core Decision-Making Models

§         Charles E. Lindblom (1959), “ The Science of “Muddling Through” (1959)

Thursday:  A CASE STUDY:  The Columbia Accident

§         Stillman, Case Study 4, pp. 111-121


Week 11 (04/04-04/06):  Social Equity

Tuesday:   Optional Class for group meetings: The New Public Service

§         H. George Frederickson, (1980), New Public Administration

Thursday:  Social Equity

§         A CASE STUDY: Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas Controversy – [on-line]


Week 12 (04/11-04/13):  Intergovernmental Relations

Tuesday:   Federalism vs. Intergovernmental Relations (IGA)

§         Stillman, Ch. 5, pp. 126-140

Thursday:  Fiscal Federalism


Week 13 (04/18-04/20):  The New Public Management

            Tuesday:  Public Choice Theory

§         Graham T. Allison (1980).  “Public and Private Management: Are They Fundamentally Alike in All Unimportant Respects,” [on-line]

Thursday:  Reinvention and the National Performance Review

§         Osbourne & Gaebler, Ch. 1, pp. 25-48, [on-line]


Week 14 (04/25-04/27):  Future Direction of Public Administration

Tuesday:  A CASE STUDY:  Alaskan Prisons:  Public vs. Private [on-line]

Thursday:  Introduction to Denhardts’ text, The New Public Service (NPS)

§         Book Analysis Groups 1,  2


Week 15 (05/02-05/04):  Future Direction, cont’d

Tuesday:  NPS, cont’d

§         Groups 3, 4 & 5  

Thursday:  NPS, cont’d and Class Wrapup

§         Groups 6, 7


Final Exam:  May 11 @ Noon


Important Dates

March 11-19:                Spring Break - No Classes

March 9:                       Midterm Exam

April 11:                        PA Interview Due

April 25:                        Written Chapter Summaries of Denhardt Due (50 copies)

April 27 – May 04:        Book Analysis/Presentations

May 11:                        Final Exam – Noon-1:50 p.m.


Participation/Attendance/Grading Policies

Students are expected to attend all regularly scheduled class lectures. It is also expected that students will arrive to class on time and remain for the duration of the class period unless prior arrangements have been made with the instructor. The instructor reserves the right to bar any student arriving late to class without an excuse.  


Students missing a scheduled guest speaker will have five (5) points per lecture deducted from their overall score.  Arriving late or leaving class early counts as an absence. 


Attendance will count towards the final grade only in the event the final grade falls within .5 percentage points of the next letter grade upward, and a student has no more than three unexcused absences (this includes leaving or entering the classroom in the middle of the lecture).   Excused absences require advance notification (whenever possible) and proper written documentation. 


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 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

NIU abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that mandates that reasonable accommodations be provided for qualified students with disabilities. If you have a disability and may require some type of instructional and/or examination accommodation, please contact me early in the semester so that I can provide or facilitate in providing accommodations you may need. If you have not already done so, you will need to register with the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR), the designated office on campus to provide services and administer exams with accommodations for students with disabilities. The CAAR office is located on the 4th floor of the University Health Services building (815-753-1303).


The Writing Center

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.


Undergraduate Writing Awards

The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies. Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing. Winners are expected to attend the Department’s spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50.00. Papers, which can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department secretary by February 28. All copies should have two cover pages – one with the student’s name and one without the student’s name. Only papers written in the previous calendar year can be considered for the award. However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the following year’s competition even if the student has graduated.


Political Science Department Web Site

Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science web site on a regular basis. This up-to-date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to http://polisci.niu.edu


Electronic Devices and Classroom Etiquette

Turn cell phones and electronic devices OFF prior to class.   Instructor reserves the right to deduct points or ask a student to leave the classroom for the improper use of electronic devices, or for any other violation of classroom decorum that is disruptive to the learning process.