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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: PADM 335
Course Title: Methods of Public Decision Making
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

How theoretical, philosophical, scientific, political, and social factors influence decision making in the public sector and methods used by public sector managers to make those decisions. Corequisite/Prerequisite: POSC/PADM/MGMT 311.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):


Course Rotation for Day Program:

Offered even Spring.

Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

Any text covering topics identified in the topical outline. Ideally either the primary text or a secondary text will be a casebook exposing students to real-world examples of decisions faced by public managers.

The Public Manager Case Book: Making Decisions in a Complex World
By Rhodes, Terrel L., Patricia M. Alt, Cheryl L. Brown, Maureen Brown (Sage)
Handbook of Decision Making (Public Administration and Public Policy)
By Morkol, Goktug (CRC Press)
Adaptive Governance: Integrating Science, Policy and Decision Making
By Steelman, Toddi A. (Columbia University Press)
Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making
By Stone, Deborah (W.W. Norton)
Cost-Benefit Analysis for Public Sector Decision Makers (secondary text)
By Diana Fuguitt and Shanan J. Wilcox (Praeger)
Tools for Decision Making: A Practical Guide for Local Government (secondary text)
By David N. Ammons (CQ Press))
Course Objectives
  • To develop decision-making strategies for potential public managers.
  • To understand various decision making approaches used by public managers.


Measurable Learning Outcomes:
  • Explain neoclassical economic/utilitarian models of decision making.
  • Explain behavioral/organizational models of decision making.
  • Explain how such issues as administrator discretion, accountability, available technology, economic conditions, available resources, and other similar factors influence decisions made by public managers.
  • Identify various ethical issues related to public decision making.
Topical Outline:
  • A significant, intensive writing component is required for this course. This requirement may be satisfied by a single type-written paper of twelve pages in length (properly cited) or by multiple assignments of equal length.
  • Models of decision-making: Rational-comprehensive model, bargaining model, incremental model, participative model, public choice model, etc.
  • The ethical dimensions of decision making
  • Restrictions or limits on decision making: Time limit, incomplete information, uncertainty of conditions, distorted information, unanticipated crises, etc.
  • Analytic tools used by decision makers: cost-benefit analysis, queuing theory, simulartions, etc.

Recommended maximum class size for this course: 25

Library Resources:

Online databases are available at the Columbia College Stafford Library.  You may access them using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

Prepared by: David Roebuck Date: July 27, 2012
NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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