Agendas and Decisions: How State Government Executives and by Dorothy F. Olshfski

By Dorothy F. Olshfski

Experiences how state-level public executives and executives in Tennessee come to a decision and enforce coverage.

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Extra info for Agendas and Decisions: How State Government Executives and Middle Managers Make and Administer Policy

Example text

Hierarchy is widely perceived to govern administrative decision making, with the Weberian legal-rational administrative system as the presumptive model. Decisions are taken at the top of the organization. Orders trickle down the hierarchy—one tells another, who tells another, until implementation occurs. Having a high position grants discretion to set a broader agenda, thus to define the problems that will constitute the agenda for subordinates. A commissioner, who reports to the governor, sets the agency’s agenda with reasonable assurance that the issue will command attention and instigate action within the agency.

We had all the newspapers trying to find out what we were doing to these two poor employees. But the confidentiality of the records [was involved] . . the juvenile judge there was the former father-inlaw of this girl . . I had never heard of anything as complicated in my life. . The governor’s office was getting telephone calls. . It was really hard to sort out the facts of the situation, what really happened, what didn’t happen. The central element in the case was the suspected sexual abuse of a child by family members, but observers had divergent views of the situation.

The executive who allows subordinates wide decision latitude lowers the density of the middle manager’s environment; the executive who must approve each decision taken by a subordinate increases the density of the subordinate’s environment. Middle manager environment constraints arise from being in the middle of the organizational structure, from interest groups seeking benefits, and from other government agencies. A middle manager attempting to change the hospital reimbursement policy in response to a federal initiative included hospital representatives in the planning and design stages of the policy.

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