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4. Case for Discussion: U.S. Department of Homeland Security Organization Structure: Download the organization chart of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security[] and describe the structure of the Department. What agencies are involved and how are they related to each other? What is the basis for the relationships among the organizations? What forms of authority are in play?
5. Alternate Case for Discussion: Electronic Hallway: King County Library

What structural problems are evident in the case? What other conditions exacerbate the structural problems? What structural solutions do they adopt? Do you expect these changes to address the problems facing the library? Why? What is the logic of the reorganization? What non-structural solutions are added? What contribution do these non-structural changes make to solving the library’s problems?

1. Learning Goals/Objectives: Provide an introduction to alternative approaches to classic theories of organization structure that makes use of current ideas of adaptive and learning organizational designs. Learners will:

• Consider how organization structures could be designed to support the coordination need of the agency’s work processes.

• Discover how work technologies can be analyzed and matched to appropriate structural supports. Study the ways that learning from experience and from the experience of similar agencies can be used to adapt organization structures and processes to increase effectiveness.

• Identify the structural adaptations needed to adjust and succeed in complex, rapidly changing external environments.

• Recognize the ways in which adaptive learning might be used in responding to threats to infrastructure.

• Debate the relative merits of hierarchical vs. adaptive, often decentralized approaches.

2. Discussion Questions:
• What are the ways in which work in organizations is coordinated? What are the mechanisms and structures?

• What are some structural adaptations to rapidly changing environments? How is coordination achieved?

• What are some adaptations to routine and non-routine organizational program technologies?

How do the technologies of public organizations evolve and shape the design of organizations?

• What are the ways in which adaptive learning might be used in responding to threats to infrastructure? What would adaptive designs look like on the ground?

• What are the relative merits of a hierarchical approach? What are the relative merits of an adaptive, often decentralized approach?

3. Required Reading:
Rainey, Understanding and Managing Public Organizations, Chapter 8, pp. 204-215 and 224-232.
Jay Galbraith, “Information Processing Model,” in Classics of Organization Theory.
John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, “Organizational Learning and Communities-of-Practice: Toward a Unified View of Working, Learning, and Innovation,” Organization Science, 2(1), (1991), 40-57,
Kathleen M. Carley and John R. Harrald, “Organizational Learning under Fire: Theory and

Practice,” American Behavioral Scientist, 40(3), (1997), 310–332.

Eric Stern, “Crisis and Learning: A Conceptual Balance Sheet,” Journal of Contingencies and

Crisis Management, 5(2), (1997), 69–86.
Louise Comfort, “Risk, Security and Disaster Management,” Annual Review of Political Science. 8, (2005), 335–56,
4. Recommended Additional Reading:
William M. Snyder, Etienne Wenger, and Xavier de Sousa Briggs, “Communities of Practice in

Government: Leveraging Knowledge for Performance,” The Public Manager, 32(4), (2004), 17-21.

David Korten, “Community Organization and Rural Development: A Learning Process

Approach,” Public Administration Review, 40, (1980), 480-511 (esp. 495-511).

Daniel Aldrich, “Fixing Recovery: Social Capital in Post-Crisis Resilience,” Journal of Homeland Security 6, (June 2010), 1-10,
5. Case for Discussion: U.S. Department of Homeland Security: National Infrastructure Protection Plan: Download the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (Executive Summary)[] and describe the organizational coordination strategies underlying the Plan. What agencies are involved and how are they related to each other? What is the basis for the relationships among the organizations? What forms of authority are in play? What has the structural and procedural focus been over the past decade? What do the readings from this week and your own analysis suggest about how designs might be made more adaptable and responsive to changing conditions?
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Infrastructure Protection, Critical Infrastructure Sector Partnerships:


1. Learning Goals/Objectives: Offer an introduction to two contending views of the prospects for reliable, crisis-free maintenance, of the complex technologies and institutions that surround us. Learners will:

• Identify the conditions in contemporary society that create the circumstances under which accidents and disasters might be considered “normal.”

• Consider the organizational design elements that have been able to overcome the tendency for complexly interactive and tightly coupled systems to experience accidents.

• Recognize the structural and cultural characteristics of highly reliable systems.

• Discuss the application of such systems for the maintenance of critical infrastructures.
2. Discussion Questions:

• What incident in your experience qualifies as a normal accident? How did it arise? How does the situation illustrate tightly coupled systems? Complex interactions?

• What can be done to decouple systems? What impact does redundancy have for the systems?

• How do Highly Reliable Organizations (HROs) deal with tight coupling and complexly interactive systems?

• How are HROs created? How can such systems be applied to the maintenance of critical infrastructures?

• What near misses play in the development of highly reliable systems? How specifically do organizations learn from them?

3. Required Reading:

Charles Perrow, Normal Accidents, (1999), 3-100, and one other disaster scenario of your choice. Todd LaPorte and Paula Consolini, “Working in Practice but not in Theory: Theoretical

Challenges ofHigh Reliability Organizations, Journal of Public Administration Research

Theory. 1(1), (January 1993), 19-48 (esp. 29-43),
Arjen Boin and Allan McConnell, “Preparing for Critical Infrastructure Breakdowns:

The Limits of Crisis Management and the Need for Resilience,” Journal of Contingencies and

Crisis Management, 15(1), (2007), 50-59.
4. Recommended Additional Reading:
Paul R. Schulman, “The Negotiated Order of Organizational Reliability,” Administration & Society, 25(3), (1993), 353-372.
Charles Perrow, “The Limits of Safety: The Enhancement of a Theory of Accidents,” Journal of

Contingencies and Crisis Management, 2(4), (1994), 212.

Arjen Boin and Paul Schulman, “Assessing NASA’s Safety Culture: The Limits and Possibilities of High Reliability Theory,” Public Administration Review, 68(6), (2008), 1050-1062,'s%20Safety%20Culture.pdf.

PowerPoint presentation on normal accident theory,
5. Case for Discussion: Select one of the scenarios from Perrow’s Normal Accidents and discuss how LaPorte and Consolini or Boin and McConnell would analyze the case and view the prospects for learning to avoid accidents.
5. Alternative Case for Discussion: Consider your agency’s emergency plans or routines and examine the prospects for a normal accident. How tightly coupled are the critical systems? How complexly interactive are the parts of the plan or routine? How might the multi-layer response design that LaPorte and Consolini describe or Perrow’s advice about de-coupling system elements make your agency plan more resilient?


1. Learning Goals/Objectives: Describe the elements of effective communication networks and the factors that inhibit effectiveness and recognize the importance of robust communication for coordination within and among organizations. Learners will:
• Recognize alternative forms of communication systems within and among organizations.

• Identify key roles of actors in communication networks.

• Discuss what contributes to effective communication in organizations and the role of effective communication in creating coordinated emergency response networks.

• Identify the impediments to good communication and how can they be overcome.

• Recognize the uses of current information technologies such as intranets, social networking, wikis, and blogs contribute to successful communication and coordination.
2. Discussion Questions:
• What are the particular weaknesses associated with upward communication flows? With downward flows?

• What kinds of filtering are likely to occur in your organization? What are their effects?

• What sources of information overload are most common in your organization? How do you and your colleagues cope? What effects does this have on the pace of work? What realistically can be done to minimize this source of distortion?

• Who are the key actors in communications networks in your organization? What are their specific roles? What keeps them working well?

• How do the inter-organizational network forms apply in emergency response networks?

What is needed to maintain coordinated responses?

• How can current information technologies such as intranets, social networking, wikis, and blogs contribute to successful communication in your organization? How might they be used more effectively? What prevents this?
3. Required Reading:
Information Sharing: A Vital Resource for a Shared National Mission to Protect Critical

Doris Graber, The Power of Communication, Chapter 3: Channeling Bureaucratic Information

Flows and Chapter 4: Constructing Networks.

Hal Rainey, Understanding and Managing Public Organizations, Chapter 8, pp.232-240 and Chapter 12, pp. 365-370.
Annick Willems and Marc Beulens, “Knowledge Sharing in Public Sector Organizations: The Effect of Organizational Characteristics on Interdepartmental Knowledge Sharing,” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 17 (4), (2007), 581-606.

Louise Comfort, Kilkon Ko, and Adam Zagoreki, “Coordination in Rapidly Evolving Disaster Response Systems: The Role of Information,” American Behavioral Scientist 48(3), (November 2004), 295-313,

4. Recommended Additional Reading:
Jane Fedorowicz, Janice Gogan, and Christine Williams, The E-government Collaboration Challenge: Lessons from Five Case Studies, (Arlington, VA: IBM Center for the Business of Government, 2006),
Caron Chess and Lee Clarke, “Facilitation of Risk Communication during the Anthrax Attacks of 2001: The Organizational Backstory,” American Journal of Public Health, 97(9), (2007),


Donald Moynihan, “Learning under Uncertainty: Networks in Crisis Management,” Public Administration Review, 68(2), (March/April 2008), 350-365,
Marks Granovetter, “The Strength of Weak Ties,” American Journal of Sociology,

78(6), (1973), 1360-1380,
5. Case for Discussion: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Protection Partnerships and Information Sharing, Consider the information sharing prescribed in this document. What are its strengths? What assumptions does it make?
6. Alternative Case for Discussion: NASA Columbia Accident Investigation Board Report, Volume 1, Chapter 6, (August, 2003), 140-154. Identify the missed opportunities for the NASA actors to uncover the information needed to recognize the problem with the Columbia. Discuss the impediments to effective communication and coordination that can be seen during the last flight of the Columbia. What prevented the actors in the case from recognizing the dangers of the assumptions they were making? What pressures limited the willingness of mission management to reexamine their assumptions?


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