After completing this course, the student will:
- understand defining and assessing success in public governance, in its conceptual, normative and methodological complexities;
- have a working knowledge of the most important theoretical perspectives on success in public organizations, policy, and collaborations;
- be able to analytically evaluate cases of governance success, and communicate findings to both academic and practitioner audiences.
Societies cannot survive and thrive if they are not governed well. Solving complex and shared societal challenges – e.g. climate change, anti-smoking and health initiatives, refugee resettlement, etc. – requires effective management and coordination. Achieving this in the current era of connectivity, transparency, accountability and assertive, skeptical and empowered citizens deeply challenges government institutions.
In both popular and academic discourse, a focus has been on the frailty and fallibility of government institutions. We excel in explaining how policies fail, organizations decline or waste resources, and collaborations fall short.
Taking a different perspective, in this course, we seek an understanding of the practices which contribute to good governance. In doing so, we aim to empower students as future public leaders with the analytical skills to assess success and the practical skills to communicate the results of their analyses to both academic and applied audiences, in a range of policy domains.
In the first six weeks of this course, in a seminar format with guest speakers and with intensive small-group discussions, we examine the theoretical and practical concepts of success in public policies, public agencies, collaborations, and in local government. Each week, you will work in groups to write and present blog posts (to be published on the Successful Public Governance research program website). These memo-style blog entries will begin as syntheses of canonical works, and advance through the term towards highlighting theoretical controversies and empirical applications, with the ultimate goal of developing innovative arguments and insights into the literature(s) on governance success. This format prepares you for positions of leadership in a range of disciplines by requiring not only thorough theoretical fluency and application familiarity, but also the ability to accessibly contextualize and communicate analytical results to academic and practitioner audiences.
In the remaining weeks of this course, we will focus on preparing your individual analytical paper and on completing a capstone ‘success cockpit’ exercise, in which you will collaboratively apply your understanding of governance success to real-world cases in a simulated environment of your own collective design.
Kind of meetings
Meetings take a seminar form, with scheduled guest speakers, intensive discussions of the literature, interpretive theoretical group assignments, and student presentations. Group site visits with local public agency offices will also be arranged and scheduled.
Please note that for non-USG bachelor students the course Introduction public administration and organizational science (USG5520/USG5020) or another introductional course covering the subject of public administration is recommended.