The author, a practitioner-teacher of public administration, writes that the special context of government in the United States, whether federal, state, or local, needs to be specifically explored by schools for would-be public managers. The constitutionally established system of fractionated power at once makes government jobs extraordinarily difficult and provides great opportunities for those who see themselves as partners in the policy-making process and want to put their stamp on the events of their times. Despite the view of the general public, government is made to order for entrepreneurs who are adept at accreting and maintaining power regardless of the organizational level at which they are operating. Specifically, public managers need a solid grounding in the liberal arts; a systematic way of understanding and analyzing the various independent power centers that shape public policy; the ability to analyze and control their managerial style so it will fit a system that operates more through accommodation than direction; and exposure to the body of theoretical and practical knowledge now being assembled about the process of negotiation through which public policy is made.
This article is based on the Wohlman Distinguished Lecture that was presented by the author at Baruch College, City University of New York, in October of 1982.
Fenn, Dan H.
"A Public Manager Looks Back: What I Wish I'd Been Taught,"
New England Journal of Public Policy:
2, Article 6.
Available at: http://scholarworks.umb.edu/nejpp/vol3/iss2/6