Organizational Behavior

PAD 3003 Intro to Public Administration Module 4 Chapters 7-8

The book is Introducing Public Administration 8th edition by Shafritz, J. M., Russell, E. W., & Borick, C. P.


Overview chapters link


Chapter Seven Organizational Behavior

Miles Law is a theory of human behavior within a bureaucracy that when put succinctly, states that “where you stand depends on where you sit”, meaning that your professional opinion is always biased based on your professional position or office. You wouldn’t recommend cutting a budget if it meant losing your job. If you are overly critical of your boss in the field of public administration, you may soon find your post reconstituted with someone sitting in your chair with better appreciation for your boss. When you become entrenched in a bureaucracy, often times you take care not to be overly critical of the position of others because you may find yourself wanting to be hired by their bosses. If you were to fight the largess of one department, it won’t have a chair for you when you find you would like a better seat. Perhaps a window with a view.

Top Down and Bottom up Management

We’ve covered different theories about organizational behavior from business, administration, and perhaps even sociology or anthropology. In this chapter, we cover organizational behavior from a psychological perspective. This psychological approach to human behavior gave rise in theories related to behavioral science and productivity in industrial settings. Douglas McGregor evolved the thinking about people, groups and organizations by thinking about four features of organizations: first, organizations are created to serve human ends; second, organizations and people need each other and are not independent; third, that when the fit is bad between the person and the organization, one or both will suffer; and finally a good fit is necessary for a healthy organization.

This movement and change in thinking that McGregor started in the 60’s switched the focus from a top down management approach to an inclusive, person-centered organizational management approach. These theories are commonly referred to as Theory X, or the authoritarian model of administration and Theory Y, the participatory model of administration that incorporates workers and even disparate ideas and groups in the administrative process and challenges the idea of herd thinking or “groupthink.”

Organizational Analysis and Groups

Our text explains that organizational development is an approach or strategy for increasing organizational effectiveness. Today we might refer to this as building up the culture of an organization or organizational leadership development. This idea utilizes “change agents” to refine organizational processes and focuses on the interrelatedness of the organization – treating the different parts of the organization as a head, or a neck, an arm or a leg. This approach to administration and management consultation takes a long range approach to analyzing what an organization is and what it can become.

Largely since Doug MacGregor and beginning with baby boomers, organizational management has realized the benefit of incorporating the ideas of employees into the management discussion. Subsequent generations of people, and especially Generations X, Y, and Millenials, do not feel the same attachment to an employer as previous generations of workers and bureacrats once did. They also view work as a place that should include them in the discussion about what’s important – and when this doesn’t happen, they move on.

The major dysfunction that arises in bureaucracies stems from the protection and advancement of positions within the organizational structure. Public administrators want to protect their own positions and advance their own careers. This can, perhaps, coincide with their vocation and responsibilities within the public trust. It becomes a difficult situation when personal ambition stymies or even opposes the public trust. Finally, it becomes even more disastrous when groups jockey for position and power within the administration; then destructive when policy making groups seek their own ambitious ends.

The resulting pathology is bureaucrats become petty with the “checking boxes” of their jobs or pathologically paranoid. Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion” meaning that because the end of government can be so nebulous government tends toward growth. And the Peter Principle that “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence” because ambition rises people to seek higher and higher office and filling gaps beneath them is secondary to the desire for advancement.

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” -Voltaire


Motivation is something that has troubled people from ancient times. You learned about Theories X and Y, which from an organizational perspective seek the best outcomes for the organization, but are based on completely different views of human motivation.

Motivation was the unexpected result of the Hawthorne Experiment (Links to an external site.) in the late 20s and 30s in Chicago at the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company. During their research, they discovered that different levels of lighting in work areas had an impact on productivity, that people viewed work as primarily a social engagement and they were not, in fact, economic “animals” as the text describes it. We see from the Hawthorne Experiment that people want respect and acknowledgement of their work so deeply that they tend to work harder when they perceive that they will receive it from their work.

One of the greatest psychologists in history, Abraham Maslow, gave us a pyramid of human behavior theory. He postulated that there was a hierarchy of needs that have to be fulfilled in order for a person to attain self-actualization, or his or her highest performance.

Motivation-Hygiene Theory

Building on the pyramid of human behavior psychology that Abraham Maslow laid, Frederick Herzberg, Bernard Mausner, and Barbara Snyderman focused their work on motivation and “deterrents” in the Motivation-Hygiene Theory. This theory notes that the absence of dissatisfaction with job supervision doesn’t mean that you are satisfied. It just means you aren’t dissatisfied with job supervision as a factor that influences your motivation. Since these are external and environmental “factors” we understand these things in terms of hygiene, meaning that we can apply different things to the person to move the markers in one direction or another in different focus areas.

Administration in a Post-Modern World

Dwight Waldo, a famous public administration historian, stated that “bureaucracy in the Weberian sense would have been replaced by more democratic, more flexible, though more complex, forms of large-scale organization.” With advancements in technology, changes in the traditional 9-5 PM workplace, this doesn’t seem surprising to modern day readers. The idea that bureaucracies evolve and keep in pace with people and society, is however, something that some scholars may debate.

According to the dictionary, post modernism is “a late-20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism that represents a departure from modernism and has at its heart a general distrust of grand theories and ideologies as well as a problematical relationship with any notion of ‘art.’” For the purpose of our discussion, this is a rebirth in skepticism and believing that there is no universal truth, only different forms of truth and individual, personal truth.

Perhaps the best way a public administrator can utilize post modernism as it relates to his or her work today is to understand how people, voters, and constituencies view the bureaucracy within which they work.

Postmodernism Definition

“a late-20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism that represents a departure from modernism and has at its heart a general distrust of grand theories and ideologies as well as a problematical relationship with any notion of “‘art.’”

Chapter Eight Managerialism and Information Technology

After the last chapter, we came to somewhat of a conclusion that the only thing that doesn’t change is the fact that everything is in a constant state of change. Socrates claimed that there was a management competency that was transferrable, vocationally speaking. Plato led us to consider in the Republic the divinely appointed “philosopher king” as the “guardian” of the state. Aristotle led us to understand the nature of things and especially how to think deeply about the form and function of how things work; he set the stage for future minds to consider bureaucracy and the division of labor. This triumvirate of western thinkers have laid a framework for modern politics, public policy, and public administration that can’t be ignored.

There has indeed arisen a new class of leaders in government under the theme of managerialism. While Macedonian Alexander the Great, a student of Aristotle, was a political and military animal, he was not the administrator that could hold an empire together. Rome conquered Greece in 146 BC and inherited one of the greatest empires constructed in the history of the world.

You might say that the United States inherited politics from Greece and management from Rome. You might even say that the ancient literature of Ulysses, Zeus, Athena, and the rest of it, were the equivalent to our “case studies” in that they told a story to illustrate an experience or phenomenon – they all point towards wisdom, understanding and learning.

As we have considered in the past, Public sector management is under constant scrutiny. However, it is also in need, at times, of new ideas and different approaches that can help “re-engineer” what’s broken, assuming, it is, indeed in need of being fixed. There are several ways to approach management, many of which fall into the Theory X top down or Theory Y participatory models identified by Doug MacGregor.

There have been different approaches to the process of considering “how excellent” a government agency is operating or not such as Total Quality Management & Management By Objective.

Total Quality Management or TQM that focuses on the ideal operational aspect of the agency. TQM, developed by W. Edwards Deming, brings to bear the idea of statistical quality control or sampling products to ensure they meet standards. He put together 14 points on how to make organizational changes toward excellence, focusing on the system or “organization” and 7 deadly diseases that plague them.

Management By Objective or MBO is another process that focuses on outcomes and outputs and measures management and staff by their achievements. Peter Drucker, the founder of MBO focused on avoiding just staying busy for busyness’s sake.

According to the text, “what makes performance management different from mere management is this emphasis on systemic integration.” With performance management, you get terms like “best practice” and “performance pay.” In some ways, it focuses on the ends and less on the means of individuals but on the means of the individuals, groups, systems and other governments. The problem with this approach is not that it is ineffective, but that the objectives of government can be so cloudy and permeated with politics. For example, when the Florida Department of Children and Families is successful in removing a child from a home where he or she is being abused, who wins? The child? The family?

From a political perspective, we have politicians who promulgate parents’ rights over children and those who may believe that keeping a child in the home with his or her parents, even when they are being abused, is better than putting them into the “system.” From a public administrators perspective, you have to live every day in an environment of competing values. You can be an amazing performer, but who cheers when your budget goes up because the need for folks to remove children from home goes up?

Government 2.0 is all about how government can best use technology. The “Excellence Theory of Public Relations” by J. Grunig and H. Grunig is a theory about public relations, which is essentially what technological advancements like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, texts and cell phones have implicated. It is built on four models:

Model 1 emphasizes one-way communication. “All publicity is good publicity.” It is not research based and most PR professionals utilize this kind of communication tactic.

Model 2 is the journalistic approach. Truth is essential. Government agencies fall into this category (typically) with more becoming focused on model 3. Practitioners are called “flacks” who simply send out press releases.

Model 3 also known as the scientific persuasion model, utilizes surveys and polls to help persuade. Still typically one-way communication has a “doctor’s orders” or authoritarian bent.

Model 4 is the “mutual understanding model” is an “intermediary” between the organization and its reporters. It attempts to dialogue and utilizes diverse tools (technology, blogs, social media, etc.) to do so. Organization and/or public opinions are open to change; may revert back to different models if not accepted by organization or during hostile situations. It is time consuming and labor intensive. Seeks to differentiate between stakeholders and “communicate” a differentiated message (ie, “segmentation”). It is a relationship based model.

It is true that people judge organizations not by what the organization is, but based on their feeling and appreciation of every other experience they’ve had with a similar organization. For example, when you go to the Dairy Queen for an ice cream, you enjoy that ice cream as it fits your model or belief in what an ice cream should taste like. When you go to another restaurant, McDonald’s perhaps, and you order an ice cream, you are judging your experience based on what you believe is in your mind “tasty” ice cream.

This concept translates into government as well. With the rise of online purchasing, Amazon and Ebay, people are buying more products and services online now more than ever. They attribute to government the same desire for online service delivery, probably in many cases, because they have heard over and over again that government must act more like business. Government thereby must deliver to them the same, or better, experience as a business in a customer transaction online. This can become a problem when there are issues, such as with what happened with the roll out of the Healthcare Marketplace on

Socrates was the first to have discussed the idea of a cross-competency of managers. He may have also been the first to have thought that he couldn’t teach anyone anything, but together people could learn or probe through reason. This method of critical thinking is perhaps the best asset of the public administrator and worst problem when it’s lacking.

Like Socrates, sometimes public administrators and civil servants may be given “poison” to drink. Sometimes he or she must drink it to effectively and honestly carry out the duties of the office. Sometimes they don’t and shouldn’t. There’s nothing wrong with resigning, walking away, or changing career paths when you recognize that other public officials may want to feed you hemlock. It could be the best way to protect the public trust, even if only by degrees.

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