Chapter Nine Strategic Management and Government Regulation

PAD 3003 Intro to Public Administration Module 4 Chapters 9-10

The book is Introducing Public Administration 8th edition by Shafritz, J. M., Russell, E. W., & Borick, C. P.


Overview chapters link


Chapter Nine Strategic Management and Government Regulation

Strategic Management is all about setting and reaching goals. But for the sake of our discussion, let’s define a few terms that may be commonly misunderstood. For our purposes, the hierarchy of thinking in strategic management in the public sector goes from vision to mission to goals to objectives.

The vision is the big picture of what your organization wants to see and the mission is the jointly shared cumulative goals and objectives. Goals are end zones to focus on and objectives are clear steps that can be measured to get you to the end zone. When the vision is clear and the mission well defined, the public administrator has an easy job setting goals and objectives that can be achieved. But, it’s rarely ever that easy.

The Planning Horizon is something that helps to take the concepts of planning and put them into a framework of time: usually annual, five years, ten years, and sometimes even 20. In the state of Florida, we have commissions that meet every 20 years to make recommendations on the state constitution and the state budget, respectively. These commissions have the power to put amendments on the voting ballots directly. They are examples of having a long range plan and continually checking it to make sure that goals and objectives are still being met.

But it is important to emphasize how important planning is in the public sector, even when the plans go nowhere or are shelved. Robert Herjavec, one of the investors on NBC’s Shark Tank puts it best: A goal without a timeline is just a dream”.

This kind of internal management, as opposed to the external public relations that chapter 8 talked about, is all about human resource management and development. This moves agencies into planning for budget requests by developing requests that show outcomes and have clearly measured outputs, outcomes, and the successful completion of objectives. The Government Performance Results Act actually requires that “federal agencies prepare and submit strategic plans to the Office of Management and Budget and Congress.” States have followed suit.

One of the most basic ways to analyze a strategy is through the lens of a SWOT analysis. SWOT is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. In light of the planning process, and particularly human resources, the SWOT analysis is something very useful and helpful for administrators when they begin planning their annual budgets. The outcome of SWOT planning is the executive summary of where an organization is before they begin to embark upon anything new, different, or challenging.

We believe that public administration is the field of study that involves people operating with the highest standards as they execute their office. However, sometimes public administrators borrow from the field of political science when they utilize theories such as the “game theory.”

The game theory is the “chicken” concept of two drivers racing down the road at each other waiting for the other to be the “chicken” and veer aside to safety. Game theory represents everything that the public administrator does to “game” the system to protect or preserve his or her own interests – even if they are noble interests.

Best practices, benchmarking, and management scorecards are different tools and tactics that can be utilized to help the public administrator with his or her management – especially by monitoring activities, goals, and keeping track. There has developed from the strategic management a chief performance officer. There is a tremendous amount of information to sift through when putting things like best practices, benchmarks, and management scorecards together. It must be made simple or it becomes like noise.

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.”

-Gertrude Stein

In 2010, NOAA research showed that nearly 40% of Americans live by the coast, or 10% of the land mass of the US excluding Alaska. This presents government administrators with a unique challenge. For example, in the state of Florida, Citizens’ Insurance company was the insurer of last resort for folks in the state who couldn’t get insurance in any other way. However, due to legislative involvement and changes, Citizens has become the largest insurer because the legislature artificially kept their rates low when the market rates were skyrocketing.

This is the interesting part – it would be less expensive not to insure those who lived in precarious places. However, that position would be unpopular for a government agency to take – that people shouldn’t live in particular places. In fact, when individuals are told that they can’t build something a certain way, they are really upset at the building department. However, when the safety precautions they were reluctant to follow save their homes built in flood zones or islands, they are grateful. Euclidian zoning, named after the case from Euclid, Ohio where the supreme court upheld a local jurisdictions right to zone differently, illustrates further the complexity of government regulation and due process of law under the 14th amendment.

All strategic management include the identification of objectives, the adoption of a time frame, the assessment of capabilities & environment, and the selection of a strategy. Public administrators recognize that they do not function in a vacuum, and, although political will may shift, it is better to have a plan that is never executed than to be called upon to perform a plan that doesn’t exist. As Winston Churchill put it: Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Chapter 10 Leadership

Leadership is one of those words that everyone uses, and many use incorrectly. Leadership doesn’t have anything to do with the person, but only about the outcome and the benefit of others. The origin of the word “lead” is from the Old English and brings involves the connotation to cause to go with one, guide, conduct, carry; sprout forth; bring forth, pass one’s life. It brings to bear the idea of “going forth” but not just simply going forth alone, but “going forth unto death.”

There is nothing more profound than a good leader. Because wisdom and leadership are deep waters, it is often difficult to determine who is a good leader and what it is about that person, though we may try. However, we seem to always know a leader when we see him or her in action. The result of leadership is a performance, but leaders, real leaders, are anything but actors.

Why do people follow you? According to “The Bases of Social Power” there are five major “bases” or reasons why people follow a particular person: expert power, referent power, reward power, legitimate power, coercive power. The first two are tied to positive experiences with the leader. There is an admiration factor, which may even develop into a real love for the leader. That is the highest form of leadership, where the follower and the leader share a mutual admiration and love for each other. There is a relationship element involved in leadership. As EM Kelly put it: “Remember the difference between a boss and a leader; a boss says “Go!” – a leader says “Let’s go!”

Why do people follow others and what is it about the leader that allows him or her to lead. One theory attributes this to the “trait” that the leader has, his personality and charisma. Another transactional theory shows how leaders can be laissez faire when they interact with followers and considerate of them.

Contingency approaches to leadership are different than the trait and transactional theories in that men or women aren’t born leaders, but created when the need arises. Remember the story of Cincinnatus who was called from his plow to save Rome and he did so. But when he was done, he went back to the farm.

There is transformational leadership, which is even more “organic” and “grassroots” than contingency leadership. It is a form of leadership that arises within an organization that creates a new vision for leadership. It brings to mind come back stories and turn around stories. One of the most important features of good leadership is the belief in the moral actions of the leader. When followers believe that their leader is above reproach, they listen to him or her when he or she shares good news, or bad, the latter without condemnation or at least contempt.

United States presidents have a bully pulpit from which they can lead through “moral leadership.” At one time, the bully pulpit was reserved for rare occasions. Today, it has become the place of rhetorical leadership, as the line between the campaign and governing has blurred.

There are some ways in which managers slip into some poor leadership behaviors. Micromanagement is something that almost everyone has faced or will face at some time in their life. “Overmanagement” is another term used for an organization that is top heavy.

There is something “supernatural” about our leaders. People have a tendency toward placing leaders on a high pedestal, especially modern day elected officials. They, at the same time, become zealous in their charges and quick to race to blood if and as soon as a leader fails. This is a very challenging predicament precisely because of the inherent difficulty in leading. There is a tremendous amount of unknown involved in leading. The quote below from Roosevelt was taken right after an attempted assassination. He was saved because the bullet went through his folded up speech and glass case before it hit him. The public however, was moved by the heroics.

When someone like that, who is put up on a pedestal, becomes involved in issues affecting morality, it becomes even more charged. For example, the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski scandal. It didn’t matter what he had accomplished when the scandal arose. The people cast stones and wanted to know all of the details.

“I have just been shot, but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose”-President Theodore Roosevelt

Political scientist Aaron Wildavsky explained another phenomena in the presidency: the difference in public approval ratings for domestic versus foreign policy. The text explains how he proved that the general public cared less for the foreign policy of the president than the domestic. He did this by reviewing the passage rate for domestic issues by congress and comparing it with the foreign. What he found was that from 1948-1964, Congress approved 58.5 percent of foreign policy bills, 73.3% of defense bills, and 70.8 percent of general foreign policy while only approving 40.2 percent of domestic policy proposals. Perhaps this is because people care more for what they perceive to affect them more; or perhaps this happened because people supported policies that put America as the city on the hill – in a good light.

As our text explains in this chapter, there is a difference between leadership and management. It is far easier to be a manager than a leader, but much less effective at times and always much less revered. The excellent leader is the exception, not the rule. However, modern theory tends to lean toward the idea that leaders are not born, but can learn to become good leaders. And why wouldn’t we think that people can learn to become better leaders. In fact, if you take the constitutional directive that the government of the United States is a government of, for, and by the people that we have a moral impetus to all – young and old, man and woman, student and teacher – become better leaders?

The founding fathers of this nation literally bet on it.

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