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2014 Founders’ Fellows: Managing and Leading Public Service Organizations

After the Boomers: Are We Preparing the Next Generation?
By Don Stolberg,University of Missouri

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) of Congress now estimates that 53 percent of all government workers at federal, state, and local levels are eligible to retire in the next three to five years (Benest, 2007). The good news is that the “Great Recession” had a huge impact on the retirement accounts of many of the nation’s local leaders, causing them to postpone their retirement until such time as they were in better financial standing. The bad news is that most of those retirement accounts that were decimated in the crash of 2007 and 2008 have bounced back and many senior managers are considering or even planning their retirement. This poses a real problem for many communities and it is not certain that we have sufficient replacements in the pipeline. Jim Svara (2010) shows that in 1971, 71% of the appointed local government managers were 40 or younger, and 26% were under 30. In 2006, 86% were over 40 and only 2% were under 30. With such a large contingent of boomers retiring over the next decade or so, it is even more critical that we act now.

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Teamwork in the 21st Century: Relevance and Challenges for Public Service Organizations
By Roger Chin, Claremont Graduate University

Public service organizations are progressing in becoming more knowledge-based and more technologically evolved. The changing dynamic has made an impact in the overall dynamic of employees and stakeholders in the public sector. The nature, understanding, and purpose of leadership in teams are becoming a pertinent topic that affects every individual in the public sector. The simplicity in the idea of public sector employees working in teams belies the reality that understanding the concepts and theories of leadership in teams entails exceptional intricacy and complexity. Many individuals in the public sector are consistently utilizing teamwork, but this ostensibly simple concept has many definitions about what team leadership entails and theories to explain how teams operate in different settings. The aim of this research is to provide a pragmatic assessment on the state of the field of teamwork and leadership research in public administration, while having a brief comparison of teamwork and leadership research in the fields of leadership and management.

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LEADERSHIP BY DESIGN: Building a Better Future
By Joseph S. Imamura,Texas Tech University

Historical evidence tells us that Thomas Jefferson possessed an affinity for architecture to the extent that he became a self-taught architect. He argued that the pursuit of architectural achievement was vital to the American experiment; that a building was not merely a walled structure, but the process of constructing it was equal to the task of building a nation. Interestingly, our Founding Fathers included architecture as a symbol of our democratic values and point of national pride. Even with limited resources, they made it a priority to commission designs that would withstand the test of time and represent the principles our country has stood for over these many decades. Today, the Public Buildings Service is the steward of that vision (D. Robyn, personal communication, July 1, 2013). Fidelity to balance budget, schedule, and quality at best value to the American taxpayer is an increasing challenge as the economy continues to languish and Congress reigns in federal spending. This particular issue has been the focus of numerous articles across professional disciplines. Publications such as the Government Executive, Federal Times, Public Administration Review, and even industry magazines such as Planning, Landscape Architecture Magazine, and Architectural Record are weighing in with ideas and solutions for leading projects, programs, and organizations during this markedly unsettled period. While Federal, State, and local agencies face a “new normal” to deliver services with fewer resources, some argue the scarcity of these resources provide an environment ripe for creative solutions. In the case of the Public Buildings Service, this new reality is driving innovation and new management practices.

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Capacity Building: The Public Organization 21st Century Management and Leadership Challenge
By David A. Bell, Savannah State University

The Neighborhood Leadership Academy at Savannah State University (NLA) began as an initiative of Step Up Savannah. The Step Up Savannah nonprofit was launched by a group of community leaders in 2005 and aims to alleviate poverty in Chatham County, Georgia. NLA is a 12-week leadership intensive training that serves to create a critical mass of community leaders to serve as agents of change. Step Up’s vision for NLA is a mechanism to produce leaders to empower the voice and position of Chatham County’s impoverished. One evening several graduate students of the Savannah State University Master of Public Administration program joined the session. Central to the lesson that evening was NLA students understanding how to develop strength through relationship building with individuals, institutions, and organizations. The graduate students are there to observe and support, including participation in the break-out groups focusing on problem definition and telling the story that illustrates the problem. This learning environment consisting of training community leaders with graduate student participation is a picture of developing management and leadership capacity to meet the challenges facing public service organizations in the 21st century.

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Citizen, Customer, Partner: What Should Be the Role of the Public in Public Management in China?
By Min Su, Georgia State University & Georgia Institute of Technology

Today’s public managers in China face more managerial challenges than their predecessors. Traditional Chinese society has been highly centralized marked as “strong state, weak society.” Building upon this base, China has formed a state-centered governance paradigm, which views government as a monopoly system rather than the construction from democratic consensus. Under this governance paradigm, public managers have taken it for granted that “the ruler rules and the ruled listen.” The public has little voice in public management (Lan 2000, p.460). In the recent few years however, the Chinese public, led by a rising middle class, have been constantly requiring participating in the policy making, implementation, and management of public affairs. This paper examines whether the “citizen, customer, partner” model applies to the current public management practice in China.

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Essential Personnel: A Challenging Commitment
By Judith Weshinskey-Price, Jacksonville State University

People are the backbone of a disaster response. When local governments find they must respond in time of disaster to protect citizens and infrastructure, they must rely on essential personnel to perform their duties.Essential personnel, those employees who are integral to a disaster response, are expected to fulfill work duties in time of disaster regardless of what personal concerns they may have. One of the challenges experienced by local government organizations is making sure that personnel considered essential are able to meet that expectation before a disaster ever occurs. Leaders must train and educate their essential personnel not only in matters of their duty but in how to manage personal responsibilities so that they do not interfere when they are needed by their organizations. This challenge has become harder to overcome in today’s public safety organization as the demographics of those who are essential personnel have changed creating a wider variety of personal responsibilities as well as greater difficulty in overcoming them so that work responsibilities can take priority .

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Environmental Governance and Fracking in the U.S.: Lessons Learned From Colorado’s Fracking Industry
By Jonathan M. Fisk, Colorado State University

The conflicts engendered by the environmental movement cut across sectors and governments and exemplify the difficulties associated with intergovernmental management. Reforms emerged from a hierarchical-based system of Federal command and control regulation, by which lines of authority were more clearly delineated (Scheberle, 2004; Lehner, 1993). Today, governance is often the product of any number of organizations that includes private actors as well as decision-makers from sub-national units of government (Hysing and Olsson, 2008). And, importantly, the inclusion of new actors and institutions present opportunities for stakeholders to expand the scope of conflict, occupy and reset multiple agenda and help organize opponents (Frederickson et al., 2012; Hysing & Olsson, 2008; Stoker, 1998). Recognizing this complexity and its implications for intergovernmental management and relations, this paper focuses on how multiple centers of power facilitate and but more frequently constrain natural resource policymaking. It does so by examining the policymaking context of Colorado’s fracking industry, which involves state and local lawmakers.

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