“Understanding and Managing Public Organizations” by Rainey

Introduction

In his book, Hal G. Rainey covers a wide range of concepts and the analysis of contemporary management of public organizations. The book also draws research from the most currents government ran organizations and management, covering some of the strategies that could be considered effective and those that are not effective for today’s management practices. Hence the following sections will discuss organization management in the sections of the challenges of effective public organization and management, organizational goals and effectiveness and managing organizational change and development.

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The Dynamic Context of Public Organizations

The Challenge of Effective Public Organization and Management

From Rainey’s example of the 9/11 terrorism ordeal, intense public discourse swirled around questions about how these terrible events could have been prevented. Interest groups insisted to be informed if the success of the terrorism incident was due to loop holes that existed within the federal agencies like the FBI, the Immigration and naturalization Service and the CIA and their management. For this reason congress launched a commission to investigate and find out ways to seal the loop holes. A much publicized FBI agent gave her testimony before this commission with allegations that some suspicious activities had not been given special attention at the higher levels of the hierarchy. It was unanimously concluded that the disaster was as a result of a huge managerial problem, poor handling of critical information coupled with insufficient communication within the intelligence agency (Rainey 3).

To try and get more intelligence the local governments and state resources of both the U.S and the foreign countries were put into use. Researches and quick checks were carried out to try and asses the level of preparedness of these governments to such a high level of disaster management. The major challenge in the response given to terrorism problems in agency as an organization is coordinating an organization that deals with different but a wide range of problems.

All groups including the media fraternity, the president and his office, experts in related fields and other interest groups came together to plan the most effective way of putting together a new Department of Homeland Security. This was done in the midst of scholars, activists, law practitioners and the general public. The factors and questions being asked included: the amount of authority to be given to the leaders in the new agency, whether the new employees should be granted employment rights and protection under the U.S. government civil service regulations. In addition, other questions that lingered were whether the leaders in the agency were to be denied the level of flexibility they had before which gave them capability to give employees transfers, hire and fire them. These brought out the big question of the structure of the new body and the methods of division of power and authority. These questions show clearly the importance and concerns that are usually raised during management and organization processes in the central government.

These issues include how to be certain of the organization’s effectiveness and being accountable while working in the given political system while at the same time minding the public interest. The concern on the level of authority within the democratic space was the major concerns being considered in the formation of the new intelligence agency. In the hiring and division of labor of the new employees to constitute the new Homeland Security department, the presidents requested those concerned to avoid rigidity. Hence the involvement of reduced provision of federal protection to civil service agents was just but some of the extra considerations that were to be initiated. This move was hugely opposed by major employee unions as a section of congress. The request of the president was a result of concerns from his office and the general public was that flexibility in the hiring would enable the new leaders in the agency to be the best they can while at the same time be motivated and enable their removal from the offices and movement even easier. Those against this policies cited abuse by the superior agents would be unavoidable were the protection rights be reduced.

Key Dimensions of Organizing and Managing

Organizational Goals and Effectiveness

The level at which people both as individuals and as groups view their ambitions as being fulfilled through the goals of the organizations they work for enables us to relate to how goals of the organizations can lead to effectiveness. For example EA (Electronic Arts), a big company in the computer games software designers was recently accused of abusing the hourly employee payment rates. This was confirmed by a memo sent by its management to the employees of the company underlining a problem in the company’s job regulations and promising quick reforms. As mentioned by their manager, as much as employees do not like what is being said about their companies the truth is that for most of them when the goals of the company and their ambitions do not coincide, it means that there is more work to be done and the further the two are the more the amount of work the firm needs to put in order to achieve efficiency (Kuhn 30).

In order to understand this concept an example can be taken of an organization whose employees have been divided into two groups which are the management and the subordinate employees. The respective goals of the given groups are critical to the organization in attaining its major set goals. Here, it is clear that the goals of those in management position are well-matched to the organizations with very few variations. While on the other side the variations between the goals of the subordinates and that of the organization varies widely.

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An example in that of the McDonald’s corporations which is currently the biggest and most successful chain of restaurants that serves fast food to around fifty eight million customers world-wide daily. This can is proven by the company’s share price which has been stable at around $ 50 per share and trading nearly 10 million shares per day on average on the New York Stock Exchange. This can be compared to those of its competitors such as Burger King whose share price trades at around $ 21 and trades around 1.5 million shares per day on average in the same stock market.It bases its operation on the sales of products such as French fries, cheeseburgers, hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken and chicken products, salads, fruits, wraps, desserts, milkshakes and soft drinks. With their long chain of restaurants comes with playgrounds, advertising, luxury lounges, and fireplaces (in selected branches) to increase comfort which comes with this excellent food menu.

The big issue with McDonald’s is that due to franchising, most of the subordinate employees well being is literally left at the mercy of the branch manager. The subordinate employees suffer a great deal of job insecurity, they can be hired but their contracts can be cancelled for whatever reason cited by their managers. On the other hand the managers enjoy a great deal of security in their jobs and the only factor that can make them lose their jobs is the involvement in unlawful activities which may damage the reputation of the organization. This is the most familiar picture in majority of the public corporations.

As result of interaction between the goals of management and the subordinate employees, there can be a suitable compromise that can be reached by both parties; hence performance of the organization would also be reflected by the same. When this level of compromise is reached, the performance of the organization can be forecasted easily. But the accomplishments can be low if these goals are not matched to those of the organization in totality. In addition, companies are running out of business for this simple reason, as this situation creates a situation where the good of the organization in general may come second. This is because the needs of the managers and their subordinates have been prioritized before the organizational goals. As a result the sense of achievement in the organization seems to be low as is the case for some branches of the McDonald’s restaurants. In other cases there might be absolutely no achievement for the organization, leading to losses which eventually lead to closure of the business.

The main aim of most organizations is to create an environment in which the following easily happens: the management and the subordinates both view their goals as equals to the general goals of the organization, or their goals being accomplished in the process of accomplishing the organizational goals. This shows that the closer the individuals’ goals (management and subordinates) are to the goals of the organizations, the higher the level of achievement for the organization in general.

Effective leaders can hence bridge the gap existing between employees’ goals and those of the organization in a couple of ways. They would firstly start by generating a following in the organization which is loyal to them. This can be done through the use of the most influential people in the organization who people seem to listen to; they can be given the responsibility to pass on the organizational goals. This is effective in most circumstances as other employees can easily trust the leaders that influence them the most within their working environment, and hence easier to associate with them.

Another way for leaders to bridge this gap is through the incorporation of the employee performance information in the budgets and management reports. This aspect is usually common in the Non-Governmental Organizations, according to Rainey, these efforts have been in the pipeline for most governmental corporations but so far progress has been slow. Even though lessons have been learnt through the fall of some companies, very few organizations can be counted as being successful in this implementation. Hence it can be argued that, implementing management initiatives that are based on results are therefore difficult as a result of wanting the impacts to be realized throughout the organization.

Strategies for Managing and Improving Public Organizations

Control of development and Organizational Change

The increase in the dynamism of business practices that have been experienced during the past 10 to 15 years has been very spectacular. In the late 1980’s, most people were tackling issues that were being encountered for the very first time. The exaggerated use of power by some of America’s top companies to raise the number of their shareholders saw them go down drastically. Most of our biggest customers that have been representing the lowest level of time and risk in management tended to draw all our energy. By early nineties, most of the companies facing challenges had either settled their financial issues in court or closed business.

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In the same period, just when it was seen that the external environment was settling down and the professional lives would return back to normal, many other organizations initiated efforts to improve their operating efficiencies to increase competitiveness. This is because competition had heated up across the world. In order to be prosperous, an organization focusing on the future should put its customers’ needs first while at the same time creating a competitive edge to survive the stiff competition. And hence in order to remain companies had to cut down to operations that did not add value to their overall processes. This high rate of competition has made some fundamental assumptions on a long-term sustainable market meaningless.

For example Just In Time is a philosophy used in operations management especially by the manufacturing sector to reduce wastes of materials and to help them generally improve their production both in efficiency and effectiveness. JIT applies to repetitive process such as a manufacturing processes or cycle in which the usual products and components are repetitively. McDonald’s have shown excellent performance in practicing JIT. Their JIT system is done in such a way that McDonald’s doesn’t begin to cook or reheat or assembling the foodstuffs before placement of an order by a customer. McDonald’s traditionally used to cook hamburgers before placement of orders and left them under heat retainers for a long time, eventually this led to discarding of whatever wasn’t sold.

Nowadays, as a result of technological advancement McDonald’s have invested burger-cooking ovens which have a high-tech bun toaster. With this technology they are able to cook and reheat foods in record speed for customer’s orders to be processed as they wait. The main concept behind this is providing a client with their order faster while the finished product sits in their inventory for as short as possible.

McDonald’s is now able to offer better food for its customers at a much lower cost. Better food is produced in terms of quality of food served, while costs are reduced as a result of reduced food spoilage rates, cutting down on the overall cost of ordering and having keeping inventories in the stores while having a reasonable reduction in safety stock. What McDonald’s is commonly known for is their very high holding costs coupled with their ordering costs. Eventually, this, combined with the ability to pull down safety stock margins, is where JIT becomes effective.

This is evident through the test of the new menu which was done at some 600 outlets in California. Some of the new products included the Angus deluxe, Swiss and Angus bacon Angus mushroom and cheese. This was after rivals such as burger king had introduced nearly the same two years earlier. The products were meant to attract the teenage customers at a very low price of $3.99 compared to its rivals $6.00 dollar a piece. But this did not mean that they did away with their traditional menus. The safety stock hence exists because of these fluctuations. Hence, what JIT tries to do is reduce both lead times and the changes in the lead times so as to enable the reduction of the safety stock to the lowest levels possible.

However as Rainey explains there are never ending ups and downs in business. Changes come in as soon as we start getting used to the previous sort of changes. Normally there is so much alterations which arise simultaneously. An organization has no control over the external factors in the market but to deal with it, the organization has keep practicing the skills of dealing with the rapid changes (Rainey 7).

Firstly by creating a vision as vision and leadership drive successful change. Change must be part of the building blocks of a company’s values. Therefore the incorporation of feedback from customers, and feedback from the employees’ performance should be treated as benchmarks for improvements when it is needed. Hence there should be commitment from management to impact change when it is most needed.

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The three Stages of Change must also be put into practice. In order to do well in the confusion impacted by the rapid changes in today’s world, there is need for management and subordinates to have a grip on techniques to implement the changes when they are required. There are generally three stages explained by Rainey in dealing with change which includes: unfreezing, change and refreezing.

Unfreezing, the beginning stage involves the dropping of the past behaviors. When the organization starts to experience disconfirmation which is usually in the form of a difference in the way ideas between employees; this is when change begins. Cognitive dissonance is a concept taken from the field of psychology that refers to incompatibility between two or more attitudes or between behavior and attitudes. The change stage involves the integrating new ideas and behavior trends into the organization. Refreezing is the final stage of the change process. It is composed of a follow up to the changes stated and making sure that the whole team is on board.

Change in the organization usually makes the employees feel as if they are loosing something close to them which they are attached to emotionally. It is clear that there are different approaches that must become a good practice in public organizations. If we look from this perspective on the content of the McDonald’s administration, its need to recognise that proper public companies management represents one way for moving forward (Rainey 5).

Works Cited

Denhardt, R. In the shadow of organization, Kansas: Regents Press of Kansas, 1989.

Kuhn, Thomas. Scientific revolutions and its structures, 3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Rainey, HG. Understanding and Managing Public Organizations, 3rd Edition, 2003.

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