Revised Syllabus 4/11/01
Public Administration (PADM) 5100 - 002
Organization & Administrative Theory
Spring Semester, 2001
Stockton Campus

Professor: Dr. Susan H. MacDonald
Class meetings: W: 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Room 1060, Acacia Building
Office: 132 A Classroom Building
Office hours: 5:00–6:00p Monday & Thursday in Turlock and Wednesday in Stockton
12:30--2:30 Tuesday in Turlock, and by appointment
Office phone: 667-3291 (direct line)
667-3388 (for appointments)

Required texts
Scott, W. Richard (1998) Organizations: Rational, Natural and Open Systems, 4th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Morgan, Gareth (1997) Images of Organization, 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Cooperrider, David L. and Dutton, Jane E. (1999) Organizational Dimensions of Global Change: No Limits to Cooperation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Course purpose and organization

This is a core course in the MPA curriculum. As such, it is intended to prepare students for the comprehensive examination in organization and administrative theory by exposing students to the history of organization thought and the principal concerns of organization scholars. The course is also intended to provide students an opportunity to integrate practical experiences with theoretical streams. Given that virtually all public sector administration takes place in and through organizations, their study is vital to the profession.

The course will be part lecture, part discussion. Students will be expected to take an active role in class meetings by staying current with reading assignments, participating in class discussions, and leading the class on occasion.

Class attendance is expected. Occasionally people will become ill or working students will miss class for professional reasons. When this occurs, students are expected to inform the instructor of their inability to attend class in advance, but at least before class begins either by leaving a message in the appropriate administrative office or by contacting the professor. Regardless of the reason, students who miss class will be expected to prepare summaries of any readings assigned for that day. Students who miss more than one class without permission of the instructor will have their final grade lowered 5 points for each additional session missed. Moreover, the instructor reserves the right to drop students who miss three or more classes (with or without permission) from the course.

Assignments and grading

Metaphor paper (15%) and presentation (5%)
Gareth Morgan considers eight general metaphors for organization. The class will discuss two of these images as a group—the ones closest to Scott’s depiction of the field. Students will then select one of the remaining six images and prepare a 5 page summary and analysis of the image, including observations on its relevance to the field of public administration. In that this is the first assignment in the course, some of the analysis will inevitably be hypothetical or speculative, rather than rely on what the student has learned so far in the course, and rely largely on the student’s own experience. Because of this, analyses should be well documented so that someone who has not had similar experiences will understand the point the student is making.

Students writing on the same image will then make a group presentation on the image and lead class discussion on the evening that image is scheduled.

Even though the presentations are divided among the class, each student is expected to read the entire book.

Take-home exam (35%)
Students will be tested on the Scott text with a take-home exam where they will be asked to answer a subset of questions (probably 3 of 4).

Global change analysis (35%) and presentation (0%)
The global change book is a compilation of writings by well-known scholars in the field of organization theory who are exploring ways in which the study of organization can contribute to globalization. The underlying assumption, here, is that we are now part of an interdependent system operating at a global scale and that the new mode of navigating this global terrain is cooperation—not hierarchical control. Given this state of affairs, what can scholars tell us about how organizations might operate most effectively in this new world "disorder"?

The class will consider four chapters (the introduction and the responses of three scholars) as a group and then students will be asked to select and analyze one of the remaining eleven chapters. This exercise will be much like the first except that by this time students will be expected to have a much deeper understanding of organizations and therefore to offer a more critical and informed analysis of these chapters—incorporating ideas gleaned from the Morgan and Scott texts into their critiques. Of particular importance will be the analogies drawn among the texts—where students believe the contributors to global change have drawn on previous organizational theory work (including Morgan’s images) and where contributors have departed from tradition to offer novel or innovative approaches. The analyses will conclude with the student’s personal observations about the proposal in light of both globalization and the public sector’s appropriate role in it.

The last three weeks of the course will be reserved for student presentations of these analyses. Because Reading Day falls on a Wednesday, students will have the option to substitute Reading Day for a previous class. For example, students might choose to devote the week of May 9 to their writing and schedule presentations on May 16, 23 and 30. Students who analyze the same chapter will make joint presentations to the class. Apart from the 4 chapters the class reads as a whole, students are expected to read only their chapter selected for special analysis. Accordingly, chapter summaries should be well enough written to give others familiar with the issues but not the specific argument a clear sense of the author’s (or authors’) intentions.

Class participation (10%)
All students are expected to have completed the readings for class and to participate in class discussions.


Intellectual honesty is central to any academic endeavor. However, in graduate work it is especially important—both for the student and the profession in which he or she is engaged. It is important for students to grapple honestly with the material so that they may find their place within the profession. Developing careful habits of independent thinking as well as attribution of ideas is vital to the intellectual endeavor. Occasionally students will assume that an idea they have encountered in their readings or class is "common knowledge" in the way that we comment on the weather or the latest popular theory about the economy. But it is a mistake to equate graduate study with popular culture—even when the latest trends are making an impact on professional activities. What sense we make of this interaction, how we approach new trends, what analyses we construct—are all products of creativity and scholars’ livelihoods depend on recognition of their contributions to this collective understanding. As such, attribution of ideas is an essential part of the scholarly enterprise.

Intellectual honesty is equally important for the profession, which develops and evolves only through the work of its participants. The classroom, then, provides valuable space for the open exchange of ideas and the nurturing of habits that promote and sustain intellectual honesty. The Scott text provides an excellent example of how academics analyze concepts and positions at the same time that they give others credit for introducing the idea into the collective professional consciousness.

Course Outline
Week 1
Feb 14
Course expectations; review of basic elements of
organization theory. Brief overview of developments in organization theory, its history, and the place of public organizations within the field. Explanation of student requirements and selection of readings that must be done immediately.

Week 2
Feb 21
Metaphors of Organization
Required readings:
Morgan, pages 1-72.

Class presentation requests due

Week 3
Feb 28
Metaphors of Organization continued
Required readings:
Morgan, pages 73-250.

Student presentations on chapters:
4: Learning/brains
5: Social construction/culture
6: Conflict/power/political organization
7: Plato’s Cave/Psychic prisons

Week 4
March 7
Metaphors of Organization continued
Required readings:
Morgan, pages 251-379.
Concluding group discussion of metaphor and implications for public administration practice.

Student presentations on chapters:
8: Logic of change/organization transformation
9: Domination

Week 5
March 14

Wrap-up of Morgan’s Images

Week 6
March 21
The Study of Organizations
Required readings:
Scott, pages 1-81 (chapters 1-3)

Week 7
March 28
The Study of Organizations continued
Required readings:
Scott, pages 82-120 (chapters 4-5)

Week 8
April 4
The Study of Organizations continued
Required readings:
Scott, pages 121-181 (chapters 6-7)

Week 9
April 11
The Study of Organizations continued
Required readings:
Scott, pages 182-257 (chapters 8-9)

Midterm exam distributed

April 18 Spring Break

Week 10
April 25
The Study of Organizations continued
Required readings:
Scott, pages 258-318 (chapters 10-11)

Week 11
May 2

The Study of Organizations completed
Required readings:
Scott, pages 319-363 (chapters 12-13)

Week 12
May 9
Global change
Required readings:
Cooperrider, pages xv-56.
Midterm examinations due

Week 13
May 16
Global change continued (last class)
Required readings:
Cooperider, pages 139-167 (chapter 6) and pages 270-290 (chapter 12)

Final examination instructions distributed

May 23 Reading Day—no classes

May 30 Final Exam scheduled (none planned)
Globalization Papers due