Course Subject
Course Number
Course Credit

Introduction to Managing Public Service Organizations

Course Description

The goal of this course is to introduce you to management skills for potential service in the public and nonprofit sectors. The course provides you with tools to diagnose and solve organizational problems, to influence the actions of individuals, groups, and organizations, and to lead impactful public service organizations.

You presumably choose this course because you want to have a positive impact in the world. Your interest could be affordable housing, more bicycle lanes, arts programs for disadvantaged kids or access to quality pre-natal care. It could be making sure public policies are based on the best possible evidence, or that nonprofits are financially solvent, or that staff are treated fairly and respectfully. Whatever your passion, you can only realize that impact by mastering organizational processes. Organizations are the way work gets organized, coordinated, and accomplished. Knowing how organizations work – how to work within them – are perhaps the most powerful tools you can have.

A key management task is to assemble the skills, talents, and resources of individuals and groups into those combinations that best solve the organizational problems at hand. You must manage people, information, and processes to accomplish organizational goals; you must make things happen, and often not under conditions or timeframes of your own choosing; and you must learn from the challenges you experience. The successful execution of these tasks requires leaders to understand what skills and abilities they bring to and need from their teams and organizations, to formulate a mission and strategy, to make effective and ethical decisions, to recruit, influence and motivate diverse individuals, to optimize the structure of their organization, to measure and improve performance, and to drive organizational change.

The course prepares you to achieve these objectives by providing you with fundamental frameworks and tools developed from the behavioral and social sciences and tested by leaders in organizations representing all sectors of the economy. In addition to lectures, the course includes readings and analyzing case studies, engaging in role-playing exercises and a semester long team project to design and create the components of a virtual nonprofit organization. Student teams will be 3-5 students, and will require team time in addition to scheduled course hours.



Open to sophomore, junior, and senior students, freshmen are ineligible to take this course.


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