Theories and Research Methods for Public Administrations

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
As part of the interdisciplinary training of Public Policies and Administration Post graduate Course, this teaching is aimed at giving analytical, both theoretical and methodological, knowledge and skills, useful for the analysis of decision making processes in Public Administrations, understood as complex organizations aimed at the production of public policies, and for the design of analyzes and researches aimed at the institutional planning of public policies. These skills will be framed starting from a theoretical framework given by organization theory, appropriately related to the experience of public administrative apparatuses of the main Western countries (USA, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy). Second part of the course will be devoted to study the relationship between rationality and administrative behavior, through a systematic analysis of rational approaches to Public administrations, in their evolution from the Weberian bureaucratic idealtype to the most recent perspectives inspired by cognitive sciences, behavioral analysis and "nudging".
Expected learning outcomes
a) Knowledge and Understanding: at the end of the course, the student will have got a set of analytical skills, both theoretical and methodological, related to decision making and to design of analyzes and researches aimed at the institutional planning of public policies. In a theoretical perspective, these skills will be part of an ideal toolkit for interpreting the functioning, for diagnosing the main dysfunctions, as well as for acting possibile interventions aimed at improving the performance.
b) Applying Knowledge and Learning Skills: those skills should allow the student to autonomously proceed with the organizational analysis of sector, offices and activities of the Public Administration, as well as the design of analyzes or research/intervention actions aimed at improving their organizational and policy performance.
c) Communication Skills: the student should learn to design, organize, carry out analyzes and research/intervention actions for the Public Administration, in many and different sectors and offices, as well as to communicate the results of those activities to interlocutors of various kinds, specialists and non-specialists ones.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second trimester
Only in case of Covid-19 Emergency, the lessons will be held on the Microsoft Teams platform and can be followed both synchronously, based on the ordinary lesson schedule, and asynchronously, as they will remain available to students on the same platform. Further teaching materials, to compensate the impossibility of holding lessons in person, will be available on the ARIEL platform.

Program and reference
The program and reference will not change.

Learning evaluation procedures and assessment criteria
The exam will take place in oral form, using the Microsoft Teams platform.
Course syllabus
The program consists of two Teaching Units (a-b), each of twenty hours.

Teaching Program - Unit (a)
The first Unit, with an introductory character, is devoted to the introduction of the toolkit for the analysis of Public Administration as a complex organization. After a description of the study object, that is the Public Administration as a central organization of the public sector, which uses technologies and human resources for the production of public policies, it
will be illustrated the main paradigms of organizational analysis useful for understanding public bureaucracies as complex organizations. Subsequently it will examine the new paradigms of administrative organization that are influencing the processes of change underway in the Public Administration, in Italy as well as in other Western countries.

Unit (a) - Topics
1. Public Administration, Public sector and Public Policies. The Public sector in a mixed economy society: different view points on the role of the State. The balance between Public and private sectors. Public sector size and policy making: financial dimension and economic impact of public policies on the State budget. Public policies, public administration and the political system: who decides what? Participants in policy process. Market failures, policy tools and public intervention options. Performance cycle, performance budgeting and spending programs. Public sector and public spending in Italy in comparison with the main Western countries. Data sources and databases for analysis and research on public policies. Administrative structures and public management: analysis, evaluation, choice. Institutional design, social impact assessment and administrative feedback.

2. Organizational analysis of the Public Administration: concepts and methods. Public bureaucracy as a rational organization: hierarchical line and Weberian bureaucratic ideatype. Organizations as systems: the relationship with the environment and the internal interaction system. The institutionalist approach: stability and change, power and heterogenesis of the ends. The economic analysis of organizations: transaction costs, agency theory, strategic behavior and opportunism of actors. The negotiated order approach: sources of uncertainty and organizational power; formal and informal structure of organizations. New paradigms of administrative organization and the management of change. New Public Management and Public Governance. Administrating in terms of multilevel governance. From the expansion to the crisis of the welfarist bureaucracies, up to a new "coming back" (the newfound role of the public sector facing with pandemic emergency). From legal norms to regulation. Towards a post-bureaucratic Public Administration.

Teaching Program - Unit (b)
The second Unit is devoted to a critical analysis of rational approaches to the study of public administrations, which will be taken into consideration and examined in their evolution from the Weberian bureaucratic idealtype to the most recent perspectives inspired by cognitive sciences, behavioral analysis and "nudging" . At first, it will be considered the developments related, on the one hand, to the analysis of bureaucratic dysfunctions (Merton, Gouldner, Selznick, Lindblom and Crozier), and, on the other hand, to the bounded rationality approach (Simon). Subsequently, it will be examined the approaches originating from cognitive sciences (Kahneman, Gigerenzer, Weick, Thaler), paying particular attention to their application to the design of public policies and the performance management of public administrations.

Unit (b) - Topics
1- Rationality and administrative behavior: from the Weberian bureaucratic idealtype to Simon's paradigm of bounded rationality. Administrative rationality and bureaucratic dysfunctions: unintentional effects and unexpected consequences of bureaucratic behavior (Merton); the relationship between discipline and competence concerning with line and staff; environmental pressures, heterogenesis of ends, role of interests and leadership in public organizations (Selznick); disjointed incrementalism in the construction of public policies (Lindblom).

2- Cognitive sciences, behavioral analysis and new actor models. From bounded rationality to decision-making heuristics. Expert decisions, uncertainty and intuitive decisions. Decision making and sense making. Using principles of anticipation and containment in administrative behavior. Judgment and decision. The nudging approach: gentle pushes and liberal paternalism. Unknowns of decision-making autonomy, unintentional consequences of intentional actions and the principle of harms to others. Behavioral analysis of administrative systems to improve performance in public services: the case of healthcare. Behavioral policies in education. Decision bias and natural disasters: nudge to promote prevention. The nudge for sustainable mobility. Public health, epidemics, emergencies and nudges. The nudgeathon: encouraging behavioral changes at the system level. The behavioral public administration approach for improving performance management systems.

As a corollary to Unit (b), a comparative research recently carried out using both qualitative and quantitative methods on the functioning of the SUAP (Desk for Productive Activities) will be presented and discussed.
Prerequisites for admission
Desiderable prerequisites for the course is a good knowledge of the basic concepts of Politics (Political Science), many of which will essentially be taken for granted during teaching. Those students who lack these prerequisites are strongly recommended to preliminary look at one of the following texts:
a) D. Caramani (a cura di), Scienza politica, Egea, Milano 2015;
b) G. Pasquino, Nuovo corso di Scienza politica, il Mulino, Bologna 2009.
Teaching methods
Frontal lessons (in presence, if - given the Covid-19 Emergency - the regulatory provisions will allow it, otherwise on remote by the Microsoft Teams platform), presentations by students, case studies, group discussions, also with the participation of testimonials from the political and institutional world. Teaching integration materials will be available on ARIEL platform.

Expected learning outcomes:
A) Knowledge and Understanding: at the end of the course, the student will have got a set of analytical, methodological and interpretative skills useful for the study of Public Administration, its organizational structures and processes.
B) Applying Knowledge and Learning Skills: the gained knowledge should allow the student to autonomously carry out analyzes and research targeted on organizations, departments and other public apparatuses.
C) Communication Skills: the presentation and discussion of case studies in the classroom, should allow the student learning to communicate the theoretical-methodological contents and the empirical results of research concerning the Public Administration to interlocutors of various kinds, specialists and non-specialists.
Teaching Resources
Unit (a):
- A. Pichierri, Introduzione alla sociologia dell'organizzazione, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2010.
- G. Bonazzi, voce "Organizzazione", Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana Treccani (disponibile su Ariel).
- A. Hinna, Organizzazione e cambiamento nelle pubbliche amministrazioni, Carocci, Roma 2009.

Unit (b):
- A. La Spina, Politiche pubbliche. Analisi e valutazione, il Mulino, Bologna 2020, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 12, 13, 15.
- R. Viale, Oltre il nudge. Libertà di scelta, felicità e comportamento, il Mulino, Bologna 2018.
- R. Viale e L. Macchi (a cura di), Analisi comportamentale delle politiche pubbliche. Nudge e interventi basati sulle scienze cognitive, il Mulino, Bologna 2021.

Recommended further readings on some topics of the course are the following:
a) Historical evolution of the Italian Public Administration and Public administration:
- G. Melis, Storia dell'amministrazione italiana (1861-1993), il Mulino, Bologna 1996.
- S. Sepe, Storia dell'amministrazione italiana (1861-2017), Editoriale scientifica, Napoli 2018.
- S. Cassese, Governare gli italiani. Storia dello Stato, il Mulino, Bologna 2014.
- F. Girotti, Amministrazioni pubbliche. Una introduzione, Carocci, Roma 2013.

b) Public sector from an economic perspective:
J.E. Stiglitz e J.K. Rosengard, Economia del settore pubblico. Fondazioni teoriche, spesa e imposte, Hoepli, Milano 2018.

c) Main policy branches of the Italian Public Administration:
G. Capano e E. Gualmini (a cura di), Le amministrazioni pubbliche in Italia, il Mulino, Bologna 2011.

d) Planning and managing organizational change:
G. Jones, Organizzazione. Teoria, progettazione, cambiamento, Egea, Milano.

e) Cognitive Sciences, reasoning and mental models for decision making:
- P. N. Jonhson Laird, Pensiero e ragionamento, il Mulino, Bologna 2008.

Assessment methods and Criteria
Written exam: multiple choice questions, questions with semi-open and free answers, tests and any numerical exercises. An optional oral exam integration on the whole program is foreseen for students who pass the written test with at least 27/30.

Attending students must take a written mid-term test, on the first part of teaching program, and a final test, always in written form, at the end of the course on the remaining part of the program.
SPS/04 - POLITICAL SCIENCE - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours
Students can contact the teacher by e-mail or by chat on Microsoft Teams to arrange for day and reception hours on line. Please indicate as e-mail subject: "Student reception: MEETING REQUEST". Prefer Microsoft Teams chat if my undergraduates or students
Room 313 - SPS Department of Social and Political Science, 3rd Floor. During Covid-19 Emergency only for my undergraduates and by previous appointment.