Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Administrative Innovation and the Training of Public Managers

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Administrative Innovation and the Training of Public Managers

Article excerpt

Sixteen states have established or incipient public manager training programs which, upon their successful completion, lead to the formal designation of participants as "certified" public managers. The most common designation is CPM (Certified Public Manager). This brief study seeks to find out if such systematic public management training promotes administrative innovation in the governmental workplace. While this study deals with subjects drawn from the state of Arkansas, it is likely that the results of this research can be cautiously generalized to other public manager and related training programs.

The Arkansas Public Administration Consortium, a cooperative effort of the graduate public administration programs of the University of Arkansas and of Arkansas State University, offers a public management training sequence leading to the designation of the metriculant as an Arkansas Certified Government Manager (ACGM). As of mid-1994, 200 individuals have received this designation and an additional 40 are in the process of completing the program.(1)

Eligibility to participate in the ACGM program is determined by a civil service or equivalent, standing as a middle manager or above. The managers also must be recommended by their superiors. To obtain the ACGM, the participant must complete six workshop-seminars of which two are mandatory, one dealing with a managerial skills self-analysis and one with the budget process. The remaining four courses are elected on the basis of management skills deficiencies reveale by the self-analysis. An additional and a capstone requirement for the ACGM is that of a "Project Plan".

The candidates are asked to prepare and submit to their immediate superior a detailed proposal for a project which they expect to improve efficiency and effectiveness of their agency.

The format for the proposal calls for, minimally, a statement of the problem, estimation of anticipated benefits, a cost estimate, a projection of the time frame necessary for the completion of the project, an identification of intra-and inter-agency cooperation required, and a provision for an evaluation. The candidate is also required to provide a copy of the proposal to the Consortium, one bearing the supervisor's signature officially certifying that the agency is in receipt of the project plan prepared by the ACGM candidate.

The immediate purpose of the project plan was to keep the culminating requirement of the ACGM curricula from being a purely academic exercise and, rather, to ground it, and therefore the entire ACGM program, in the Arkansas public manager's world of work. The ultimate purpose of the project plan was th same as one of the principal purposes of the entire ACGM program--to encourage public management innovation in a conservative, highly rural state which often ranks near the bottom on a variety of socioeconomic indicators. This study reports, in a preliminary way, on the success of such project plans to stimulat administrative innovation in Arkansas state government.

The call for more government management innovation has persisted and lately, apparently increased. "The need for worksite innovation is nowhere greater than in public administration, for one thing, and effort there does not set the pace for such analysis," say Golembiewski and Sun (1991:108). Peter Drucker points t the greater difficulty of innovating in the public sector because of its singular attributes such as deriving revenue from budgetary allocations rather than sales, the need to respond to many constituencies rather than the sole consumer, and because government must respond to moral imperatives as well as demands of economic efficiency. He, nevertheless, considers innovation in publi service institutions a must, otherwise "(t)hey will become self-righteous while increasingly loosing their legitimacy." (1985:186).

The need for new administrative methods may be particularly more acute in socioeconomically lagging Arkansas and innovation there may bear proportionatel more productive results. …

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