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PSC 306: Public Organizations

revised 12 Jan. 2011 by Dr. Jeremy Lewis, with minor editing.

Catalog Description for PSC 306: Major theories and case studies of complex public organizations in the public environment in the United States and abroad. Attention to bureaucratic rivalry, staffing and promotion, hierarchy, communications, open government, and current reform movements contrasted with classical theories.
This course will examine the characteristics and changing role of the American administrative system in the policy process. It will ask why some agencies are more powerful than others, why agencies never seem to disappear, and why they grow over time. It will illustrate the historical growth of bureaus and the autonomy of bureaus from their parent departments. It will consider bureaucratic subcultures and pathologies. In particular it will examine how bureaus engage in interaction with other government agencies, interest groups, congressional staff and committees, courts, political parties, the mass media & public opinion. It will explore the existence of iron triangles and issue networks, will compare the US system to Western European systems, and seek to evaluate organization theories.

For this purpose we shall examine classic readings in public organization theory and major case studies. Throughout the texts you will find fascinating data and cases which we will examine in class.

Rhythm of the class: except where current affairs intrude, we shall generally use Tuesday for discussion of principles in Fesler and Thursday for exploration of Stilman's conceptual readings and cases or for a brief video documentary.

Learning Objectives:

Expected Outcomes: BOOKS:
For latest information, see the Booklist page.
1. Fesler, James and Donald Kettl. Politics of the Administrative Process. Washington DC: Congressional Quarterly Press. Main text. Entire book is testable for all.

2. Stillman, Richard J., ed. Public Administration: Concepts and Cases. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Selected case studies and readings will be testable.

Note: Resources in blue are shared with other political science courses:
3.  Nivola & Rosenbloom (eds) Classic Readings in American Politics Section on Bureaucracy only.

4. Michael Curtis (ed). The Great Political Theories, Volumes I (out of print) and II. The Political Theory companion, with a few selections chosen for each PSC course (consult the timetable). These readings are brief excerpts of the Greats; find each one via the Index and don't forget to read the editor's introduction to each chapter for a fine explanation of the readings in context.

5. Current Affairs: order Newsweek or US News at a low discount for the class. This will provide ammunition for you in answering questions about current affairs that occur during the term. For the magazines you supply a mailing address to which the magazine will bill directly.

6. Some other brief materials may be linked, emailed to you, or placed on Reserve.

Behavior: you are expected to comply with the HC Honor Code and with specific rules placed on our Requirements page above.

Accommodation of Special Needs, HC notice, from August 2008:
  Faculty at Huntingdon College make every effort to accommodate unique and special needs of students with respect to speech, hearing, vision, seating, or other possible adaptions.  Please notify the Disability Services Intake Coordinator, Ms. Camilla Irvin,  as soon as possible of requested accommodations.