Public Organization Theory

Political Science 4470-5470, Spring 2007, Prof. Davis


ORGANIZATION THEORY looks at how government agencies are organized and how they behave. It is the core of public administration. Furthermore private organizations like corporations and nonprofit agencies share many of the same features. This web page follows the chapters in Classics of Organization Theory sixth edition edited by Jay Shafritz, Steven Ott and Yong Suk Jang.  

Hints on reading an article: When was it written? What is the title? Who was the author? (You probably won't know the names at first.) What affiliation? Often a university or research center. What nationality? Where was it published? A journal? Part of a book? Who is the intended audience? What does the author say? Whom does her or she discuss and quote? Where does it fit regarding discipline? (e.g. political science, law, sociology, etc.)  How is the argument organized?


I. CLASSICAL: Socrates testifies to the ancient roots of management. Adam Smith was a Scottish writer on economics. Daniel McCallum advocated good organization for the Erie Railroad. Henry Towne was an efficiency expert. Frank and Lillian Gilbreth were efficiency experts who had ten children so their motto was cheaper by the dozen. Henri Fayol was trained at the French School of Mines at St. Etienne. Frederick W. Taylor founded Scientific Management and lent his name to Taylorism. Max Weber was a German sociologist and analyst of bureaucracy. Luther Gulick was long associated with the New York Bureau of Municipal Research and was a leader of the Principles School. Organization charts are a tool. Government agencies have a variety of structures. 


II. NEOCLASSICAL: Chester I. Barnard worked for the New Jersey Bell telephone company, now part of Verizon. Robert Merton pointed out that bureaucracies have dysfunctions. Herbert Simon harshly criticized Gulick and the Principles School. Philip Selznick is famous for his book TVA and the Grass Roots. Cyert and March analyzed organizational objectives.


III. BEHAVIOR:  Mary Parker Follett examined psychological factors, and was a pioneer in the Human Relations School, a reaction to the Principles School. The Hawthorne effect was labeled after experiments at the Western Electric Company plant near Chicago. Critics have challenged its results. Carl Rogers developed the concept of actualization. Abraham Maslow developed a popular hierarchy of needs. Douglas McGregor adapted it to X and Y organizations. Groupthink was based on a study of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Frederick Herzberg's hygiene factors. UT course on organizational behavior.


IV. MODERN STRUCTURE: Burns and Stalker write about organic systems. Blau and Scott discuss formal organizations. Military ranks. The word hierarchy comes from the Greek words meaning priests rule. It is found in traditional Christian churches like the Orthodox, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodists and so forth with bishops, priests and deacons, but reaches its most elaborate form in the Roman Catholic church. Four articles in this chapter look at businesses rather than government. Harvard Business School has the highest prestige. For example President George W. Bush got a degree there.


V. SYSTEMS AND ECONOMIC: Norbert Wiener coined the term cybernetics in 1948. Katz and Kahn wrote on the systems concept. William Ouchi took an economic approach.


VI. POWER AND POLITICS: French and Raven posited five bases for power. Notes on leadership.


VII - VIII. ORGANIZATION CULTURE: The Symphony Orchestra Institute. Do it yourself. A consulting firm. The Wm. S. Haynes flute company. Organization development is called OD. The OD Network. Tool pack is a consulting company. William Ouchi proposed a Type Z organization. Vice President Al Gore headed the National Performance Review.


IX. POSTMODERN: This school of thought has many versions. William Bergquist heads the Professional School of Psychology. 


X. EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY looks at the importance of human evolution in behavior. A center at Santa Barbara and FAQs. More resources from UCLA and Plymouth in England.  The term sociobiology has become less common. The approach ties to theories of primatology


XI. PSYCHOLOGY: Sigmund Freud began to revolutionize the study of the mind in the 1880s in Vienna. In his later years, Freud grew interested in the role of the ego. Erik Erikson was an ego theorist concerned with identity (and originated the now popular phrase of identity crisis). He believed people go through eight stages during their lives, identity being the third. Carl Jung was a Swiss physician was first a disciple of Freud, but broke with him and developed a different theory. The Myers Briggs typology is based on the Jung. Jean Piaget devised theories of child development.

WRITING: The Writing Center. Citation style. Model papers from previous years on a budget officer, Dramaturgy, Water, Gun Control, Project Self Sufficiency and Fallen Timbers near Maumee. Tips for maximizing your score on an examination.


LINKS Department of Political Science and the MPA program. Carlson Library, UTmost, the College of Arts and Sciences, Career Services, and the University. Professor Davis   E-mail David.Davis@UToledo.edu 


Send comments on the page to Prof. Davis and on the server to the Computer Center University of Toledo, Toledo Ohio 43606.  Last modified April 21, 2007.  Disclaimer


Last Updated: 6/17/14