MG402      Half Unit
Public Management: A Design-Oriented Approach

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Michael Barzelay NAB 3.19


This course is available on the 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 International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Public Administration and Government (LSE and Peking University) and MSc in Public Policy and Administration. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course cannot be combined with MG467 Strategy and Change in Public Sector Management.

Course content

The course is designed to strengthen professional competences in effectuating the intent of public organizations, public programs, and related forms of enterprise within government. In support of this aim, the course enables students to acquire – and use -- professional knowledge about public organizations, especially the performance of their constitutive management functions of planning, directing, coordinating and controlling. The focus of knowledge-use is within design-projects whose role within public organizations is to generate novel mechanisms in the form of systems, plans, and performances.  The use of this knowledge is accentuated through theory-based experiential learning aimed at improving the professional abilities of sense-making, designing, argumentation, and dramatization – all of which involves mechanism-intent thinking about public organizations.  Further, the course teaches how to translate purposive theories of enterprise-management into useful reference points for public organizations and their design-projects; in complementary fashion, the course examines the theory and practice of conducting case studies with the aim of providing insight into how mechanisms work within situated public organizations to perform their management and other functions and, thereby, to effectuate their intent in creating public value. The teaching format includes discussion of case study analysis and design. The course also considers the past and future of public management as a design-oriented professional discipline.


30 hours of combined lecture/seminars in the LT.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT and 1 essay in the ST.

Indicative reading

M. Barzelay, Public Management as Design-Oriented Professional Discipline (2019), M Moore, Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government (1995); S Funnell & P Rogers, Purposeful Program Theory: Effective Use of Change and Logic Models (2011),  M Barzelay & C Campbell, Preparing for the Future: Strategic Planning in the U.S. Air Force (2003); J Bryson, Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations (2018); E Bardach, ‘The Extrapolation problem: How can we learn from the experience of others?’ (2004); J van Aken, et al, Problem-Solving in Organizations (2007), J Tendler & S Freedheim, ‘Trust in a rent-seeking world: Health and government transformed in northeast Brazil’ (1994), P Coughlan, J Suri, & K Canales, ‘Prototypes as (design) tools for behavioral and organizational change: A design-based approach to help organizations change work behaviors’ (2007), and W Booth, G Colomb & J Williams, The Craft of Research (2006).


Case analysis (45%) in the LT.

Essay (45%, 2500 words) and class participation (10%).

Key facts

Department: Management

Total students 2018/19: 19

Average class size 2018/19: 21

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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