Spring 2010 Course Description

Advanced Topics in Management

Section Title: Ideas & Techniques for Managers
Instructor(s): Kevin Bacon
Course: P A 388L - Advanced Topics in Management
(previously Seminar on Topics in Public Management)
Unique Number: 62565
Day & Time: Mondays, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Room: SRH 3.220
Waitlist Information:For LBJ Students: UT Waitlist Information

This course fulfills requirements for the following specialization(s):

Description: What does the course cover?: I built this course from two basic assumptions:

  1. Throughout her or his career, every LBJ graduate will be called upon to manage and lead groups of people in accomplishing important work. You will usually do so on behalf of some larger organization. You should prepare for this work.
  2. The design of public policy must consider the issues of implementation (or management). As Alexander Hamilton warned us over 200 years ago in the Federalist Papers, “…a government ill executed, whatever it may be in theory, must in practice be a bad government.”

My goal is to give you an overview of some of the main ideas in management and an opportunity to talk about and practice some of the concepts you will need as you move through your career. We’ll talk about the real-world challenges of leaders and managers face in implementing public policy.

This course introduces students to management principles and practices, with a focus on public agency administration. We begin with a discussion on the nature of public administration and move to organization theory and the effect of structure on administrative behavior. We will also examine the “people” side of government organizations as well as management and leadership within organizations. Many case studies are examined in depth to provide real life context for the course content.

The course is designed to go beyond a conceptual framework of public management by also helping students develop the knowledge, insights and skills necessary to manage and to lead public sector organizations. Students will also work in small group settings on a number of management skill-building exercises, such as “supportive communication” and “managing conflict”.

The course requires extensive reading and class preparation as well as a high level of participation in class. Student assessment will be based on class participation, short written assignments, one 20-page paper and oral presentations. There will be no final examination. In addition, individuals and small teams of students will make presentations in class on a variety of management topics.

What will you do in this course?:

Why take this course?
  1. It’s a required flexible core course (we might as well be honest)
  2. Implementation (aka: management) is at least as important as policy development
  3. You will learn skills that will help you throughout your career
  4. Everyone in the class has a chance to speak out and help all of us learn


Who is teaching this course?: I have been teaching Advanced Management at LBJ since fall 2006. Prior to coming to LBJ, I was a management consultant for 23 years. I was a Vice President with the IBM Business Consulting Services public sector practice, where I led a team serving US federal civilian agencies. Prior to joining IBM, I was a partner on the leadership team of the public sector consulting practice of PriceWaterhouseCoopers. There I served public sector clients at the federal, state, and local levels. I worked with a wide variety of government programs, including social services, transportation, education, regulatory agencies, criminal justice, and public finance. With both IBM and PwC I was responsible for managing large groups of professionals, so I have lived with most of the management challenges we will discuss in the course.

In addition to teaching at LBJ, I continue to do consulting work for public sector clients. I also serve on the boards of two non-profit organizations.

Prior to my consulting career I served as a consultant to the California Legislature and as a lobbyist. I received my BA in Political Science from the University of California at Davis and an MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics.

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