MPP Course Spotlight: Policy Development and Administration: The Role of Bureaucracy

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Dr. Thomas Hammond’s Policy Development and Administration: The Role of Bureaucracy give MPP students the opportunity to explore the inner workings of an organization of their choice over the course of the semester. The course first explores the external environment of public bureaucracies and their relationships with actors outside the bureaucracies themselves such as legislatures, presidents, interest groups, and the public. Following this, students learned how an organization’s internal environment and structure can dictate who does what and what incentives will motivate people to do what they are supposed to do. The course closed out with an examination of how an organization’s leaders can impact the relationships between the organization and its environment, looking at the problems administrative leadership and how leaders can motivate their employees to achieve the goals which the external environment expects of the organization.

This semester, 16 students explored all of these issues as they relate to 16 different organizations. These organizations reflect the wide variety of experience and interests among MPP students. Some students chose to explore smaller local organizations like the Citizens Research Council, Fenner Nature Center, and the Ingham County Health Department. Others examined the structure of larger organizations in Michigan and abroad, including the University of Nusa Cendana in Indonesia, the Michigan branch of Planned Parenthood, a manufacturer of locomotives and rolling stock in China, and the newly formed Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency. Students were encouraged to interview members of their organization to gain an insider’s perspective on the issues faced by the organization, and to draw upon prior experience with there organization. This course gave students the opportunity to gain some practical knowledge of their own and each other’s organizations. On top of the knowledge from course material, the class provides students with the opportunity to practice their public speaking and presentation skills through a series of four individual presentations. The importance of understanding the complexities of operating a bureaucracy is crucial for MPP students as all will interact with or become part of bureaucratic organizations in their future careers.


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