Category Archives: Management

Are Public Service Nonprofit Boards Meeting Their Responsibilities?

Source: Robert D. Herman, Public Administration Review, Volume 69 Issue 3, May/June 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Public service nonprofit organizations have long been “partners” in the delivery of public services. Such nonprofit organizations are governed by boards, typically composed of citizen volunteers, that are expected to meet substantial standards of accountability and performance. Previous research has raised questions about how well such boards are meeting their responsibilities. A 2007 Urban Institute study, based on the first large representative sample of U.S. public benefit nonprofits, provides important evidence about the extent to which nonprofit boards are meeting certain accountability and performance standards.

Successfully Executing Ambitious Strategies in Government: An Empirical Analysis

Source: Steve Kelman, Jeff Myers, Harvard University – John F. Kennedy School of Government, Working Paper No. RWP09-009, April 2, 2009

From the abstract:
How are senior government executives who attempt to execute an ambitious vision requiring significant strategic change in their organizations able to succeed? How do they go about formulating a strategy in the first place? What managerial and leadership techniques do they use to execute their strategy? In this paper, these questions are examined by comparing (so as to avoid the pitfalls of “best practices” research) management and leadership behaviors of a group of agency leaders from the Clinton and Bush administrations identified by independent experts as having been successful at executing an ambitious strategy with a control group consisting of those the experts identified as having tried but failed at significant strategic change, along with counterparts to the successes, who had the same position as they in a different administration. We find a number of differentiators (such as using strategic planning, monitoring performance metrics, reorganizing, and having a smaller number of goals), while other techniques either were not commonly used or failed to differentiate (such as establishing accountability systems or appeals to public service motivation). We find that agencies that the successes led had significantly lower percentages of political appointees than the average agency in the government. One important finding is that failures seem to have used techniques recommended specifically for managing transformation or change as frequently as successes did, so use of such techniques does not differentiate successes from failures. However, failures (and counterparts) used techniques associated with improving general organizational performance less than successes.

Running Business Like a Government

Source: Ken Miller, Governing, April 9, 2009

There’s a lot that government does right. The private sector ought to take a few notes.

If there is a bright side to this economic meltdown, hopefully it’s that people gain a new appreciation of what it’s like to manage government.

Here’s what government can teach businesses about their operations:
1. How to have a true appreciation for — and be good stewards of — investors’ money.
2. True accountability.
3. It’s not about the money.

The Supreme Court and the Continuing Deconstitutionalization of Public Personnel Management

Source: Robert Roberts, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 29 no. 1, March 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In Engquist v. Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Supreme Court held that public employees may not use the so-called equal protection clause of class-of-one doctrine to challenge the constitutionality of arguably arbitrary adverse personnel actions. In the 2000 case of Village of Willowbrook v. Olech, the high court had authorized citizens to bring class-of-one equal protection lawsuits to challenge arguably arbitrary discretionary decisions by government officials. The decision provides further evidence of the ongoing effort by a majority of the Roberts Court to limit the constitutional rights of public employees. The article argues that the ongoing deconstitutionalization of public personnel management has significant implications for the management of public organizations. If the trend continues, public employees, much like their private sector counterparts, will become much more dependent on statutory protections and collective bargaining agreements to protect them from arbitrary personnel decisions.

Achieving Breakthrough Performance

Source: Mark Gottfredson, Steve Schaubert, & Elisabeth Babcock, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Vol. 6 no. 3, Summer 2008

From the Girl Scouts, to Partners In Health, to the city of Providence, R.I., great organizations have one thing in common: great managers. These managers, in turn, share four simple management principles that they use to guide organizations from mere mediocrity to stand-out stardom.

Job Evaluation Revisited: The Point Factor Method

Source: John G. Kilgour, Compensation & Benefits Review, Vol. 40 no. 4, 2008
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The point factor method of job evaluation consists of a large number of discretionary decisions that result in something that appears to be entirely objective and, even, scientific.

This article examines the oldest and most commonly used formal approach to job evaluation, the point factor method. It focuses on how and why things are done, with particular attention to the extent to which discretionary decisions are inherent in the process. Other approaches to formal job evaluation (the Hay guide-chart profile method, factor comparison, ranking and classification) are not addressed. However, much of the following discussion pertains to them as well.

The Perfect Compromise: Bridging the Gap between At-Will Employment and Just Cause

Source: Nicole B. Porter, Nebraska Law Review, (Forthcoming)

From the abstract:
Many scholars have criticized the harshness of the employment at-will presumption, which allows an employer to terminate an employee for good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all. Other scholars defend at-will employment and criticize the just cause standard. This Article does not take sides in this debate; but instead, attempts to bridge the gap between the two by proposing a compromise statute, which I call the Employment Termination Equity Act (ETEA). Under ETEA, employers would remain free to terminate without having the difficult burden of proving just cause. However, certain enumerated reasons for termination would be unlawful. In determining which termination decisions should warrant protection, my goal was two-fold: (1) to make unlawful egregious termination decisions that have previously been unremedied despite the many exceptions to at-will employment and (2) to provide some overlap protection with current employment statutes by using a procedural process that will be more easily accessible by employees. Yet, in the spirit of true compromise, ETEA will provide fewer types of remedies than other employment statutes or common law claims, and will force plaintiffs to choose between suit under this proposed termination statute and other statutory remedies. As with any compromise, lines had to be drawn and line-drawing never satisfies everyone. My goal in this article is to convince the reader to view my line drawing optimistically – as a necessary means of bridging the gap between at-will employment and just cause.

Transforming Government Through Collaborative Innovation

Source: Satish Nambisan, IBM Center for the Business of Government, Innovation Series, 2008

This report offers a network-based, collaborative innovation framework to explain how government agencies (federal, state, and local) can partner with varied external networks and communities — including citizen networks, nonprofit organizations, and private corporations — and play different types of problem-solving roles to find innovative solutions that drive transformational change in the business of government” (p. 6). This report contains the following sections: executive summary; introduction; network-based collaborative approaches in government; government as innovation integrator; government as innovation seeker; government as innovation champion; government as innovation catalyst; four success factors in collaborative innovation; and implementing collaborative innovation and problem solving.

Grading the States 2008: A Management Report Card

Source: Katherine Barrett & Richard Greene, Governing Magazine, March 2008

Information is king. No single idea emerges more clearly from year-long research done for the 2008 Government Performance Project. As always, this report focuses on four fundamental areas of government management: Information, People, Money and Infrastructure. But this year, the elements that make up the information category — planning, goal-setting, measuring performance, disseminating data and evaluating progress — overlap with the other three fields to a greater degree than ever before. Information elements, in short, are key to how a state takes care of its infrastructure, plans for its financial future and deals with the dramatic changes affecting the state workforce.

Get individual state report cards via dropdown menu.

See also:
Pew Center on the States