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Theories of Public Management


Public management is taken to mean the formal and informal processes of guiding human interaction toward public organizational objectives. The units of analysis are processes of interaction between managers and workers and the effects of management behavior on workers and work outcomes.

Traditional Management Theory Thrust Forward
×            Traditional management theory has its origins with Frederick W. Taylor and his influential The Principles of Scientific Management.
×            Luther Gulick applied scientific management to government and introduced the most famous mnemonic in the field—POSDCORB, which represents his theory of the seven major functions of management: planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting and budgeting.
×            Based on field research, Chester Barnard, the Hawthorne experiments, and Douglas McGregor conducted behavioral work.
×            One important and different approach to management theory is the sociology of Max Weber, who founded the formal study of the large-scale complex organizations he labeled bureaucracy.

Middle-range theories
From the late 1950s through the mid-1980s, much of this work was in the so-called middle range theories, particularly group theory, role theory, and communications theory.
Group Theory
In group theory, the effective group will develop shared goals and values, norms of behavior, customs, and traditions. Effective management in the context of group theory nurtures, cultivates, and supports group goals and norms that are compatible with and supportive of institutional purposes and missions.
Role Theory
In role theory, each office or position is defined in its relationship to others and to the organization as a whole, and often to the organization’s purpose.
Henry Mintzberg used the concept of roles to identify the three primary managerial roles: interpersonal roles, informational roles, and managerial roles.
Communication Theory
The theory of communication argues that most downward communication emphasizes task directives and organizational policy and procedures, while often neglect the communication of agency mission and performance feedback, which result in the low morale, preoccupation with routine tasks, and indifference to agency performance.
New Public Management
×            The positivist decision-theory founded by Simon appears to have had little effect on the day-to-day practices of public management, and the language, arguments and influence of the principles of management in public organizations remain surprisingly “proverbial”.
×            As a way to distinguish between public management principles that are scientifically verifiable and principles that are simply understood and accepted, Hood and Jackson suggest that the principles are better understood as doctrines.
×            These doctrines have been name as “New Public Management”, and its principles are widely accepted in the modern practice of public administration.

Leadership as Public Management
×            Bureaucratic politics came to be a preferred way to theorize about the role of public managers in making policy, certainly preferable to theorizing about the day-to-day management of a bureau or an office. Bureaucrats, in high policy, are understood to be leaders, a very legitimating perspectives.
×            The study of management in the policy schools has come to be the study of what leaders do, rather than the study of management theories

Managing By Contract
×            Through the analysis of contracting for capital projects, large-scale projects and contracting of social service, the authors study the difference between contract management and ordinary public management.
×            By contracting out, governments exports some management issues such as day-to-day direction of activities, contracts with clients or customers, the organization of work, the motivation of workers, and the issues of leadership. Contracting redefines administrative discretion by delegating it to buyers. And contracting appears to decrease public management responsibility for orderly and reliable institutions and increase the long-range probability of instability.
×            How can government be an effective and smart buyer?
A smart-buying government must have more frontline bureaucrats trained, hired, and rewarded to do contract management. Governments should avoid contracting for core government functions, because contracting weakens a manager’s capacity to manage directly by delegating management.

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