Public Administration Term Paper

| February 22, 2015

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PUB5450 Term Paper Project
Learning Objectives
1. Apply organizational theories or theories of organizational behavior by recommending solutions to an organizational problem.
2. Justify recommendations
3. Evaluate recommendations
4. Choose the best recommendation
5. Demonstrate written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills
Project Outline
For this project, identify an organizational problem that can be addressed through the application of the theories and practices discussed in this course. Once you have described the organization and identified a problem or need, you have to put some meat on your concern. The best way to do this is to go through the textbook very carefully and summarize what it says about your organizational problem. The more theories and concepts you mention, the more points you get.
Make 2 or 3 recommendations for addressing the problem and provide justifications for your recommendations. In addition, discuss the impact that democratic governance may have on the implementation and effectiveness of your recommendations as well as evaluate each recommendation with respect to pertinent public values. Democratic governance refers to promoting effective institutions and processes that operate in a manner consistent with democratic values of transparency, representation, pluralism and accountability. In less lofty terms, use your imagination to show how your suggested changes will make your organization more effective as well as improve its transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability.
Three deliverables are required for this project: (1) Prepare a report outlining the problem, your recommendations and justifications, and the considerations associated with your recommendations. The report should be between 10 and 12 pages long (double-spaced using 1 inch margins and 12 point Times New Roman font).
Term Paper Details
Choose preferably a public or not-for-profit organization with which you are familiar. It is best if you choose an organization that you work for, participate in, or volunteer with currently or have done so in the recent past. Once you have chosen an organization, identify a problem the organization is facing related to organizational theory or organizational behavior. Focus on a single problem. At this point you are ready to write the second and third sections of the term paper: the Description of the Organization and the Description of the Problem. Details of the contents of these sections are outlined below.
After you have identified and described the problem you can begin to develop solutions. Think of creative ways to apply the theories and practices discussed throughout this course toward solving the problem. Develop 2 or 3 solutions to recommend.
For each recommendation, explain how the recommendation would solve the problem. Provide evidence to support your claim that the recommendation would work. Evidence can be found in research studies, white papers, and journal articles. Paraphrase the findings of these studies as your supporting evidence. Make sure you properly cite and reference the sources in your paper.
Also, for each recommendation, you will need to provide an evaluation of the recommendation. First, you will evaluate each recommendation with respect to three public service values: efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability. To evaluate a recommendation with respect to a public service value, assess the extent to which the recommendation impacts the organization’s expression of the value. In doing so you will answer the following questions:
How does the recommendation impact the organization’s efficiency?
How does the recommendation impact the organization’s effectiveness?
How does the recommendation impact the organization’s degree of accountability?
Second, evaluate each recommendation with respect to how its implementation will be impacted by the nature of democratic governance. [It helps if you apply your knowledge of the U.S. political system.] Consider what steps would be involved in adopting and implementing your recommendations and how various actors might work for or against either the adoption or implementation of those recommendations. Discuss in your paper any obstacles to the adoption or implementation of each recommendation arising from the structure of and actors within the political system or the organization.
The final section of your paper will be the conclusion. In this section you will compare and contrast the evaluations of your recommendations and chose the preferred recommendation. You must give a thorough explanation of why the preferred recommendation is better than the alternatives.
Paper Structure
The paper is to have the following sections (use these headings in your report):
Executive Summary: The executive summary will provide a brief description of the problem, recommendations, the preferred recommendation and why it is preferred. It is best to complete the report and then return to write the summary.
Description of the Organization: The description of the organization will provide the reader with information regarding the organization’s mission and programs (as they relate to the problem discussed in the following section). Guiding questions for this section include (but are not limited to):
What is the name of the organization or organizational unit?
Where is the organization/unit located?
If the organization is a governmental agency, to what governmental body does the agency report? If the organization is private or not-for-profit, how is it governed?
What does the organization/unit do? Why does the organization/unit exist? Who is served by the organization/unit?
How many citizens/constituents/clients are served by the organization/unit annually?
Do not simply provide a list of answers to these questions; rather, incorporate the answers into a description that provides a full picture of the organization. Use the questions listed above, as well as others that you can think of more as a guide to your writing.
Description of the Problem: The description of the problem will provide a detailed explanation of the organizational problem you believe a theory or managerial practice discussed during the course can address. When identifying a problem, think broadly about the topics that you have studied in this course. “My organization has not found a cure for Ebola” is a serious problem, but not related to the course. “My organization is not structured effective to facilitate research on finding a cure for Ebola” would make the problem course related. Consider how your organization might benefit from the application of organization theory concepts by improving performance, decision-making, service provision, client/citizen relations, etc. If you have difficultly identifying a problem, you may wish to ask a manager or administrator what they think is a significant organizational problem. Any recommended solutions, however, must be identified by you.
Going through the index of the textbook, the following might be possible organizational problems that you might consider:
a. Communication is very poor in my organization.
b. My organization is very slow in adopting new technologies.
c. People in my organization lack commitment and loyalty.
d. Leaders in my organization are poor decision makers.
e. Motivation is lacking among the people with whom I work.
f. My organization is resistant to change.
g. The environment of my organization lacks good relations with the public.
h. Too much politics takes place in my organization.
i. The culture of my organization needs to change to improve performance.
In this section you will also explain why the problem is a problem. For example, if you were to identify low employee motivation as a problem, then you would need to explain what you think are the root causes of low motivation. The more complete the explanation the better.
Recommendations: In this section, provide 2 or 3 recommendations addressing the problem identified in the previous section. This section is likely to be the longest section of your paper. In addition to making recommendations you will need to justify each recommendation (i.e., explain why you believe it is a suitable solution to the problem). For each recommendation you will provide the following:
1. A discussion of those organization theories that best help you to understand the problem and formulate a recommendation. Showing that you can apply organizational theories to real problems is central to evaluating the paper.
2. A justification of your recommendation. The justification will explain why the recommendation is a suitable solution to the problem. Also, provide any evidence you have that the recommendation will successfully address the problem.
3. Lastly, each justification must take into consideration each of the following:
a. Pertinent public sector values. Evaluate each recommendation on how well it meets the public sector values of efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability.
b. The impact of improved democratic governance on the adoption and implementation of each recommendation.
NOTE: Simply listing answers to these questions is not sufficient. These questions should serve as a guide to your thinking. The answers to the questions should be integrated into a coherent argument in support of adopting your recommendation.
Conclusion: From the recommendations you provide, identify the preferred recommendation and explain why it is preferred to the other(s). Your explanation here will require you to compare and contrast the justifications you provided for each recommendation. The explanation should discuss the benefits of your preferred recommendation over the alternative(s), its drawbacks (i.e., another alternative may be more efficient, but less effective), and why the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
Understanding and Managing Public Organizations by Hal G. Rainey. Fifth Edition.
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