Capstone: Case Studies in Decision Making

Course Details

Course Number: PUAD 5963  Section Number: X20

Spring 2013

Location: Martin Hall

Classroom Number: onLine

Days & Times:

This is an onLine class. Dr. Behrens is available to meet face-to-face (live) with the class on the 31st of January in Martin 111 from 4:15 p.m. - 5:05 p.m. Attendance is not mandatory. Subsequent Thursday sessions can be arranged if necessary.

Course Attachments


The Public Manager Case Book, Making Decisions...
by Rhodes, editor
  ISBN: 9780761923275

The Logic Model Guidebook, Better Strategies...
by Knowlton & Phillips
  ISBN: 9781412958646

Creating and Implementing Your Strategic Plan
by Bryson & Alston
  ISBN: 9780787967548

The Little, Brown Handbook
by Aaron
  ISBN: 9780205751556

MSU Faculty Member
Dr. Phyllis Irene Behrens   
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Course Objectives

Course Goal and Objectives

This course is meant to be the final course in the M.P.A. program. The goal of the course is to familiarize students with the theories and principles of strategic decision making in the public sector by means of readings, case reviews, discussions, practical exercises, and a macro-environmental assessment of a public sector organization or department’s external environment. Students apply textbook knowledge to actual instances, prepare written analyses, and further integrate their mastery of their program of study.

The objectives of this course are:

1. to explain the development of public administration as a profession and as an academic discipline of study;

2. to compare and contrast the public and private sectors, historically and as they now exist, in order to understand the application of strategic decision making in the public sector environment;

3. to demonstrate critical thinking skills when addressing current issues in public administration, and

4. to demonstrate the ability to conduct independent research through the preparation of a research project which relates to the course.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course, students will be able:

1. to discuss, in written and oral exchange, [a] theories and theorists who made significant contributions to the field of public administration and apply their theories to various scenarios a public administrator might encounter and [b] alternative theories and approaches to planning and problem solving in the public sector;

2. to engage in problem solving exercises and/or case preparation;

3. to list similarities and differences between public and private sector administration, indicating how the differences and similarities may affect essential administrative activities in public administration;

4. to write a paper which demonstrates the ability to synthesize theories and administrative considerations in a coherent, concise manner, displaying also [a] an understanding of the role of the operating environment in the development of public sector strategy, [b] knowledge of the process of strategy formulation in the public sector, [c] knowledge of the process of linking strategy to performance, [d] awareness of the difficulties inherent in change within organizations at various levels, such as human resource managements, budgeting, policy analysis, program evaluation, organizational structures, decision making, and ethical behavior standards, and [e] an ability to integrate the substantive content of administration for effective problem solving and strategy development.

Course Expectations

This is an onLine class which uses technology to attend class. Have a backup plan in the event the primary technical means of attending class fails. Test the backup plan to know it works. Be sure your pop-up blocker and download blockers are OFF when working in the virtual classroom. This class is designed to be 16 weeks long. Each week students are responsible for reading, responding to discussion questions, responding to classmates' discussion posts, submitting assignments, and so on. It is imperative to develop and maintain the discipline to keep up with the course work. Review the syllabus thoroughly and contact Dr. Behrens ASAP if there are concerns about being able to complete the course in the time-frame. Participation is required; simply reading the texts is not a substitute for class discussion and learning. The responses made each week are a critical and integral portion of the course. *Response-ability* is important to Dr. Behrens' determining  if you are (1) reading, (2) comprehending, (3) applying knowledge learned to, and (4) synthesizing knowledge learned with the rest of the degree program. When attempting to communicate with faculty or staff regarding this class, please include the class name, number, and course section in the subject line of the correspondence. Without this, the faculty or staff member may have difficulty determining which course you are in or the assignment/discussion in question, and may also have to spend additional time trying to gather the requisite information by which to answer.  Please include all information required for the issue or question to be addressed. Lastly, due to concerns regarding privacy and identify theft, please utilize the virtual classroom’s eMail system for class-related eMail. Dr. Behrens tries to respond to student eMails and posts within 72 hours of reading them, weekends, holidays, and summers excepted.

Grading Standards

Grading Scale

90 and above = A, 80-89 = B, 70-79 = C, 60-69 = D, 59 and below = F

M.P.A. and M.H.A. students are required by program standards to have a grade of B or better in every M.H.A. and M.P.A. course. Class grades are based on a moving average. As such, when a grade is entered, the overall grade reflects ONLY the information entered to that point. Grades change and increase as additional grades are entered.

Submission Format Policy

Students are required to regularly submit written assignments. The virtual classroom contains its own means of submission within it. Do not use University eMail addresses or commercial accounts for submitting classwork outside the virtual classroom.

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.

Late Paper Policy

Assignments are due as stated based on instructor time zone. Turn assignments in on time. Based on Dr. Behrens’ discretion, late assignments may be accepted but docked 15 percent for being late.  This is done in fairness to students who meet the deadlines. No late assignments will be accepted after April 30th.

Plagiarism Policy Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception. Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters. We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student. We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed. Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Students are expected to attend the virtual classroom regularly. Students are expected to participate no less than two days each week. This is done so that students benefit from each other’s input to the class forums. Less than two days/week counts as an absence and every absence can be a deduction of 5 points from the total grade. Attendance is measured by recording system entries - whether to post an assignment or to comment on the work of classmates. Absence does not excuse the student from the responsibility of participation, assigned work, and/or testing. Students may be dropped for poor attendance and are encouraged to check the virtual classroom every day as well as to communicate with the instructor on a regular basis.


Other Policies

Please refer to the attached course outline for other class policies.

Writing Proficiency Requirement All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed English 1113 and English 1123 and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.