POLS 331: Public Administration

Spring 2008

DU 246; Tuesday/Thursday 9:30-10:45 a.m.


Professor:  Kimberly Nelson, Ph.D.

Office:  211 IASBO Building                                Phone: 815-753-6146

Email:  klnelson@niu.edu                                     Office hours: Tues/Thur 2:00-3:00

                                                                                 and by appointment


Goals and objectives of the course:

This course is designed as a broad introduction to public administration.  Public administration differs from many other areas in academia in that it has a strong practical component.  POLS 331 will introduce students to both the theoretical and practical sides of public administration.  Among the topics we will cover this semester are major theories of management, the policy process, and the relationship between politics and administration.

Upon completion of the course, students will have a general understanding of the history and practice of public administration.  Students will also learn basic concepts from the fields of public budgeting, human resources, and strategic management.


Required Texts:

Shafritz, J. M. and E. W. Russell.  2007 Introducing Public Administration (5th Edition).  New York: Pearson Longman.

Goodsell, Charles.  2004.  The Case for Bureaucracy: A Public Administration Polemic, Fourth Edition.  Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.

Other readings are available via Blackboard.


Course Requirements:

Examination 1                                                                                         20%

Examination 2                                                                                         20%

Examination 3                                                                                         20%

Book Review                                                                                           15%

Homework (3 @ 5% each)                                                                      15%

Participation/Attendance                                                                       10%




The examinations will be in-class (dates are listed on the schedule).  The exams are not comprehensive.  Exams will have a mixed format which may include, but not be limited to, multiple choice, definitions, short answer, and true/false questions.  Make-up exams will only be given in extreme emergencies and only with prior notice to Professor Nelson.  An unexcused absence on the date of an exam will result in a score of zero for that test.

Book Review

Students must write a review of the Charles Goodsell book, The Case for Bureaucracy.  A grading rubric will be passed out the first week of classes that explains the detailed requirements for the review. The book review is due March 6 during class.  No late book reviews will be accepted. 



Homework assignments are found on Blackboard in a single document entitled “Exercises & Case Studies”.  Due dates are listed on the course schedule. Each student must complete at least three of the homework assignments.  If a student chooses to do so, she may submit one extra homework assignment; the lowest grade will then be dropped. 


Class Participation and Attendance:

Students are expected to attend every class and arrive on time.  In order to receive full credit for participation, students should prepare for class by completing the required readings and participating in class discussion.  Students who arrive more than 5 minutes late or those who sleep, read, or talk amongst themselves during class will not receive participation credit for that day.  No make-ups are accepted for work missed due to an unexcused absence.



A = 90-100; B = 80-89; C = 70-79; D = 60 – 69; below 60 = F

Late assignments will only be accepted with a valid, documented excuse and will receive a deduction of 5 points per day.  No electronic submissions of papers will be accepted.


Academic Integrity: Students are required to adhere to NIU’s code of student conduct for academic integrity.  Violations will result in a failed grade on the assignment and possibly the class.  You are expected to ensure that all assignments submitted for a grade reflect substantially your own work, that work submitted under your name is substantially original, and that you have understood and learned the competencies in each assignment and not relied primarily on the knowledge of others.  Students whose work is substantially plagiarized from others will receive a ‘0’ on that assignment or exam.  If you are unclear of what actions constitute plagiarism, please see me.


Students with Disabilities: NIU abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which mandates 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). I look forward to talking with you soon to learn how I may be helpful in enhancing your academic success in this course.


Class Schedule:

This schedule is subject to change.  Some links may have changed since preparation of this syllabus.




Jan. 15



Jan. 17

Context of public administration

Chapter 1

Be prepared to discuss the think piece on end of chapter case study—see Blackboard for case

Jan. 22

Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations

Chapter 4

Jan. 24

Greenblat, “Enemies of the State”—on Blackboard

Homework—The American Democratic Republic

Jan. 29

The Machinery of Government—Local Reform

Chapter 3 pp. 83-104

Judd and Swanstrom Excerpt from Chapter 4 on Blackboard

Jan. 31

Public Policymaking & Power

Chapter 2

Feb. 5

Lindblom, “The Science of Muddling Through” on Blackboard

Feb. 7

Reforming Bureaucracy & Privatization

Chapter 3 pp. 104-130 

Feb. 12

Morgan & England, “The Two Faces of Privatization”,

Posner “Accountability Challenges of 3rd Party Government”, both on Blackboard

Homework Assignment—Analysis of Posner Chapter

Review for Exam #1

Feb. 14

Exam #1

Feb. 19

Ethics and Accountability

Chapter 5

ICMA Code of Ethics: http://www.njmma.org/ethics.pdf

Homework Assignment—Police Corruption

Feb. 21

Feb. 26

Organization Theory

Chapter 6

Feb. 28

Simon, “The Proverbs of Administration” on Blackboard

Mar. 4

Organization Behavior

Chapter 7

Mar. 6

Book Review is Due

March 11 & 13 Spring Break

Mar. 18

Managerialism & Performance Management

Chapter 8

Mar. 20

Samuelson, “The Death of Management” on Blackboard

Homework Assignment: Think Piece on Chapter 8’s case study

Review for Exam #2

Mar. 25

Exam #2

Mar. 27

Strategic Planning

Chapter 9

Read the case study for March 27.  Found on Blackboard in the Exercises Document.




Apr. 1


Chapter 10

Apr. 3

Walters, “Capital Gains” on Blackboard

Homework Assignment: Bases of Power

Apr. 8

Personnel/Human Resources Management

Chapter 11

Apr. 10

Apr. 15

Social Equity—Discrimination

Chapter 12

Homework Assignment—Social Equity in the Workplace in the Era of AIDS

Apr. 17

Financial Management

Chapter 13

Apr. 22

Illinois State Budget:  http://www.state.il.us/budget/

DeKalb City Budget: http://www.cityofdekalb.com/ Downloads/Finance/FY06Budget.pdf

Apr. 24

Class Canceled—Urban Affairs Association International Conference

Apr. 29

Program Evaluation

Chapter 14

Wholey, “Managing for Results” on Blackboard

May 1

Last Class—Review for Final

May 8

Final Exam  10:00-11:50