Interdisciplinary as well as cross-national, the book provides viewpoints from both academics and practitioners - people from political science, public administration, public policy and related disciplines. It also offers a combination of liberal and conservative ideological viewpoints, and reaches into Africa, Asia, East and West Europe, Latin America and North America for its viewpoints. Among the book's features are its stress on the importance of well-trained public administrators, its coverage of the controversial aspects of public administration training, and its success at integrating the substance of public policy with administrative procedures. The result is a major source of information for public administrators and policy makers already in government service and for students in academic programs preparing them for it.
Well over two million very qualified individuals mediate between high-level managers and other members of public agencies. These grossly underutilized intermediary professionals must become more empowered to reduce waste, malfeasance and other costly errors. Balk proposes an applied theory of public agency democracy designed to liberate the potential of its highly trained experts.
The book begins by discussing professionals as power intermediaries and their necessary tensions with authority around matters of reform. Recognized dilemmas in the field of public administration are reviewed to demonstrate the need to resolve issues concerning public agency democracy. A model is then developed to incorporate democratic action with responses ranging from routine to whistle-blowing activities. The second part of the book shows why existing management orientations are not receptive to the need for agency democracy. Conventional orientations reject the paradoxical realities of government environments; therefore, ingrained beliefs about effectiveness and management authority are at times inappropriate. Management approaches to public service motivation lack sophistication. Four final chapters are devoted to techniques and approaches on the part of professionals to initiate change. These involve techniques to assess organizational predicaments, design resolutions and become constructively involved in processes of agency reform. Ways are proposed for professionals and others to institutionalize public agency democracy in government environments.
Wiring Governments will help public managers with little technical background to navigate the IT terrain by identifying its key characteristics and explaining how to use them, not only to reform jobs but also to reinvent organizations. It explores how a fairly simple technology in the private sector-knowledge management-presents many policy and practical dilemmas in the public sector. O'Looney shows how IT systems stress existing organizational cultures. With this as a basis, he gives managers the practical advice they need to make better IT system choices, ones that match the current realities of organizational cultures as well as realistic expectations for performance gains. The book even outlines key architectural alternatives that public managers must know about when they embark on the task of building new electronic public meeting spaces.