Public Administration 505                                 Office: ZH-411

Organizational Theory & Behavior                   Office Hours: T-TH 4:00 to 5:00 P.M.

Spring Semester 2007                                     Otherwise by Appointment.

Instructor: Dr. Steve Berg                                               

Meeting in DU 252                                           6:30 – 9:10 P.M. Tuesday                                                                                                                                                                           




Course Description:

In order to adequately understand public organizations and the behavior of their members, a student of public administration must learn the fundamental concepts and ideas of organizational theory.  Organizational theory is the study of how people act in organizations and how the organizations themselves, behave.  Like the people who compose them, organizations must learn, adapt, and relate to external environmental conditions and other groups in order to survive and succeed.  Within the scope of organizational theory, organization behavior concerns specific management problems such as motivation, optimal structure, leadership, and conflict resolution.  After finishing this course, each student should have a basic understanding of the concepts, goals, benefits, and limits of the prominent organization theories in public administration.


This course provides a survey of theory, anecdotal evidence and empirical research on organizations, which are relevant to public administration, with a focus on key organizational functions and ways of defining, understanding and responding to organizational problems.  Special emphasis is placed upon the organization(s) where the student works or interns. 


Required Texts:

Classics of Organization Theory, (6th Edition) by Jay M. Shafritz, Steven Ott, and Yong Suk Jang; and Organization Theory and Public Management by Jonathan R, Tompkins.


Supplemental Readings:

Supplemental readings and cases will be put on reserve in the NIU Founders Library.


Midterm and Final Examinations:

The midterm and final exams will be in the take-home format and will likely be a combination of short answer and essay questions.  The mid-term exam will cover the first half of the course, the final exam is comprehensive.  The exams provide students the opportunity to express their knowledge of the material covered in the readings, class discussions and lectures, supplemented by their own real-world experiences.

Research Paper and Presentation:

The research paper will be based on either a department or subsection such as police, fire, public works, finance, community development, etc. or an entire municipal organization.  If you are interning in a non-profit or other non-municipal organization you may analyze it for your paper with the consent of the Instructor.  In the report, I expect a careful attempt to observe existing behavior and compare it to key concepts and theories discussed in class.  Your job is to evaluate an existing organizational system, its strengths and shortcomings.  You may need to interview current municipal officials, or other organizational denizens, to best become familiar with both the formal and informal organization (culture); the way the organization works with and within the external environment; the leadership style of the department head; forms of employee motivation used; means of handling conflict, etc.  The paper should also investigate sources in the academic and professional literature pertinent to the department or organizational system you plan to study.  These sources should be in addition to this course’s textbooks. The paper should be 20 to 25 pages in length, exclusive of tables, charts or appendices.  This paper should conform to accepted graduate level standards and all quotations must be appropriately noted and cited.  A bibliography must be provided so that the references can be readily consulted by other scholars. 


Each student will formally present their findings and analysis from the research paper to the class.  Immediately before beginning their presentation, each student will provide a draft copy of their paper for the use of the Instructor.  The presentation should be approximately 15 minutes in length to be followed by questions from the class.


Participation and Attendance:

For the class to be successful, all students must regularly and meaningfully participate.  Of course, for this to occur, students must have completed all of the assigned readings prior to each class.  Students should be prepared to discuss the readings and add relevant observations based upon their own experiences in organizations.  Should the level of participation not be present to the satisfaction of the instructor, he reserves the right to assign topics to individual students for them to present in class.   The instructor also reserves the right to call on any member of the class to have them contribute to the discussion or to verify the extent of a student’s preparedness. 


Students are expected to attend all of the classes.  If a student misses more than two classes or is chronically tardy, the instructor reserves the right to lower the participation portion of their final grade by at least one full letter grade.  Absent and tardy students miss class material and disrupt class discussion.  If necessary, please make arrangements with your supervisor in order to allow you to arrive on-time to class meetings. 


Unless otherwise cleared with the instructor in advance, all cell phones, pagers, and similar communication and entertainment devices shall be turned off during the class meetings.  You can get back in touch and answer calls during the breaks.  As graduate students it is expected that class members will conduct themselves according to classically accepted norms of civility.  Students who fail to comport themselves in a courteous manner and are disruptive, obnoxious, or abusive will find themselves physically and administratively removed from the course and may face charges in the university judicial system. 


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 CAAR and instructors be informed of any

disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.



The Instructor reserves the right to have a sense of humor, and to exercise it in the class.



Cheating will not be tolerated in this course.  This includes the offense of plagiarism.  If there is any doubt as to whether or not to use citations, please put in the citations for the sources of your materials.  It is always better to over cite than to commit plagiarism.  Respect for intellectual property is one of the core values of this university and also of your Instructor.


Late Paper Policy:

All papers, such as the research paper and any examinations, are due at the beginning of the specified class meeting.  Papers turned in after this, at the discretion of the Instructor, will be docked at least one letter grade per day in arrears.  Should a student have an emergency situation such as illness, if possible, they should contact the Instructor, requesting permission to e-mail the paper to the instructor or contact him prior to the class meeting where the paper or exam is due, concerning the nature of the emergency.  At his discretion the reduction in grade due to lateness may be waived or reduced.

Grading Structure:

Final letter grades will be based upon the following grading scale:

90% to 100% = A

80% to 89% = B

70% to 79% = C

60% to 69% = D

0% to 59% = F


Research Paper                                                20%

Research Paper Presentation                          10%

Midterm Examination                                        30%

Final Examination                                              30%

Participation                                                     10%

Total                                                                100%


Tentative Weekly Schedule:


Week 1:  (January 16)  Introduction to Organizational Theory.  Read: Shafritz, Ott & Jang, pages 1-26, and Tompkins, pages 1-9.


Week 2: (January 23)  Classical Organizational Theory.  Read: : Shafritz, Ott & Jang, Chapter 1, Pages 27-72.  Tompkins, Chapters 5, and 6.


Week 3: (January 30) Finishing Classical Organizational Theory and beginning Neo-Classical Theory.  Read: : Shafritz, Ott & Jang, Chapter 1, Pages 73-87,  and all of Chapter 2.  Also read Tompkins, Chapters 3, & 4.


Week 4: (February 6) Neo-Classical Theory.  Read: : Shafritz, Ott & Jang, Chapter 2, and  Tompkins, Chapter 10.


Week 5: (February 13)  Systems and Organic Theories.  Read:  Shafritz, Ott & Jang, Chapter 9, Pages 476- 504.  Tompkins, Chapter 9 & 11.


Week 6: (February 20) Human Relations/Human Resource Theories.  Read Tompkins, Chapters 7 and 8, and Shafritz, Ott & Jang, Chapter 3.  Midterm Exam handed out.


Week 7: (February 27)  Midterm Exam due.  Human Resource Theory, or The Organizational Behavior Approach,  Read Tompkins, Chapters 13 & 14.


Week 8: (March6)  Human Resource Theory Continued.  Read: Tompkins, Chapter 7.


March 13: No Class, Spring Break!


Week 9: (March 20)  Organizational Culture.  Read : Shafritz, Ott & Jang, Chapters 7and 8, and Tompkins Chapter 15.



Week 10: (March 27)  Participatory Management.  Read Tompkins, Chapter 12, and Frost, (on reserve) Chapters 1 and 2.


Week 11: (April 3)  Deming and Quality Management Theory & Power and Politics in Organization Theory.  Read Tompkins, Chapter 14, and Chapter 6 in Shafritz, Ott & Jang.


Week 12: (April 10)  Organizational Theory in the Public Sector Context.  Read Tompkins, Chapters 2 and 16. 


Week 13: (April 17)  Start Research Paper Presentations.


Week 14:  (April 24) Research Paper Presentations.


Week 15: (May 1)  Ethics in the Organization and Review.  Finish research Paper Presentations.  Research Papers due.  Hand out Final Exam.


Final Exam: due May 8, 6-7:50 PM.