MG4G3      Half Unit
Designing and Managing Change in the Public Sector (H)

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Simon Bastow NAB 4.19


This course is available on the CEMS Exchange, Global MSc in Management, Global MSc in Management (CEMS MIM), Global MSc in Management (MBA Exchange), MBA Exchange, MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Columbia), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Hertie), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and NUS), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Sciences Po), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), MPA in European Policy-Making, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact and Master of Public Administration. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Priority will be given to students from the Department of Management's MSc programmes for any outside option spaces.

Course content

The course focuses on important challenges for governments in both developed and developing countries in being able to design and manage transformative change in their public sector systems. Pressures on these governments to tackle 'wicked' problems, become more productive, build capacity, be more agile or innovative, or respond to rapidly changing environments make it ever more important that change is designed and managed carefully, and with some degree of success. The course looks at factors explaining governments’ ability to adapt strategically to rapidly changing external environments, and also examines why public sector organisations may succeed or struggle in designing and delivering large-scale programmes of change.

MG4G3 integrates key theory, concepts, and extensive empirical case-based material. It introduces design-based and holistic approaches to change, examines important component aspects, and discusses limitations that constrain governments and public sector organizations in their ability to design, manage and ultimately deliver successful change.

The course looks at these challenges primarily from this perspective of the senior public sector officials involved, working at the interface of high politics, policy making, and operational delivery. It draws on cases from a wide range of sectors and policy areas, particularly core areas of public sector services such as criminal justice, health, welfare and defence.  The course covers a broad range of literature and cases from developed and developing countries.


15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the MT.

Students on this course will have a reading week during Week 6, in line with Department of Management policy.

Formative coursework

Students will receive feedback on class seminar presentations in the MT.

Students will have the option to submit a formative essay by the end of the MT.

Indicative reading

Students will be directed to key texts throughout the term.  Course literature draws from public policy and governance, management economics, public management and administration and organizational psychology amongst other disciplines. Some indicative readings throughout the course include:

- Kelman, Steven (2005) Unleashing Change: A Study of Organizational Change in Government (Brookings Institution Press: New York)

- Painter, M. and Pierre, J. eds. (2005) Challenges to State Policy Capacity: Global Trends and Comparative Perspectives (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan)        


- Roberts, John (2004) The Modern Firm (Oxford, Oxford University Press)

- Simon, Herbert A. (1996) Administrative Behaviour. 4th Edition. (Simon and Schuster)

- Bryson, J. M. (2011). Strategic planning: For Public and Non-Profit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement (San Francisco, Jossey-Bass).

- Hood, Christopher. (1998). The Art of the State: Culture, Rhetoric and Public Management. (Oxford, Oxford University Press)

- Schein, Edgar H. (2010) Organizational culture and leadership (San Francisco, John Wiley & Sons Inc.)

- Brehm, J. and S. Gates (1999). Working, Shirking, and Sabotage: Bureaucratic Response to a Democratic Public. (Michigan, The University of Michigan Press)

- Hood, C. and Margetts, H. (2007). The Tools of Government in the Digital Age. (Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan).

- Weick, Karl. E., (1995) Sensemaking in Organizations (London: Sage)


Essay (70%, 4000 words) in the LT.
Presentation (10%) and other (20%) in the MT.

An essay of 4,000 words in response to one of the set essay questions – to be submitted by end of Week 6 in the Lent Term (70%)

An individual presentation in seminar on a set topic (four slides max.) (10%)

Written analysis of 1,500 words to accompany the slides (20%)

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2016/17: 11

Average class size 2016/17: 4

Controlled access 2016/17: Yes

Lecture capture used 2016/17: Yes (MT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills