1st Edition

Adaptive Administration Practice Strategies for Dealing with Constant Change in Public Administration and Policy

    Adaptive Administration: Practice Strategies for Dealing with Constant Change in Public Administration and Policy interprets the critical issues facing the field of public administration today and describes how new approaches to theory and practice have the potential to redesign the field. It will provide you with new strategies for understanding and adapting to the constant change taking place today in public administration and policy.


    • Supports faculty in presenting in their classes new approaches to the field
    • Helps students better understand the concepts and relevance of the field they are studying
    • Provides a means for practitioners to apply more effective approaches to real-world problem solving
    • Enables theory developers to explore new avenues of study
    • Assists professionals from many different fields in better understanding the significance and value of public administration

    This book develops a unified approach to theory and practice in the field. A new approach is taken to theory development based on applying recent studies by several authors in the areas of qualitative analysis and typologies. As illustrated throughout, many of the existing limited-scope theories in public administration may be extended and generalized for use in today’s environment by the studies explored in this volume.

    More applications of the strategies in this book may be found in the free Snapshot "Designing Public Programs That Work" at https://www.routledge.com/posts/10703.

    Section I: Introduction and Background

    Issues in Public Administration and Policy Today
    Theory and Practice in Public Administration and Policy
    Changes in Public Administration
    Administrative-Practice Theory
    Theory Generators
    Adaptive Administration
    Potential Uses of Big Data
    Frustration and Stress in Public Administration Today
    Practice Dilemmas Being Faced by Public Administration and Policy

    Knowledge Base for Adaptive Administration: Selected Topics and Strategies
    Knowledge Base: Selected Topics and Strategies
    Organizational Concepts
    Organizational Performance
    Role of Experience
    Cooperation and Conflict
    Rigidity and Flexibility: Responding to Change
    Rigidity and Flexibility: Combined Approaches
    Planning Strategies
    Personnel Strategies
    Financial Strategies
    Leadership Strategies for Public Organizations

    Knowledge Base for Adaptive Administration: Selected Risks, Constraints, and Challenges
    Knowledge Base: Selected Risks, Constraints, and Challenges
    Public-Sector Risk Analysis
    Constraints: Operational Tradeoffs
    Constraints: Limits to Quantitative Analysis
    Constraints: Physical Working Arrangements
    Challenges: Uses of Big Data
    Challenges: Productive Uses of Technology
    Challenges: Uses of Theory Generators
    Challenges: Alienation and Change
    Challenges: Legal Issues
    Challenges: Ethical Issues

    Section II: Resources for a Transition to Adaptive Administration

    Organizational Methods as a Resource
    Organizational Concepts: Introduction
    Defining an Organization
    Reactions to Outside Actions
    Concepts Based on Physical Descriptors
    Concepts Based on Individual Descriptors
    Defining "Types" of Organizations
    Contrasting Viewpoints of Organizations
    Organizational Study of the Affordable Care Act
    Protocol for Similar Theory Generators

    Big Data Methods as a Resource
    Need for an Adaptive Knowledge Base for Public Administration
    Application of Big Data Concepts
    Big Data in the Private Sector
    Big Data in Politics
    Application of Big Data Concepts to Public Administration
    Theory Generators and Qualitative Modeling
    Qualitative Analysis and Typological Theory
    Big Data and Theory Generators in Public Administration

    Section III: Potential Impact of Adaptive Administration on Public-Sector Organizations

    Impact on Organizational Cooperation and Conflict
    How Administrators Experience Cooperation and Conflict
    Fictional Scenario: Cooperation Leading to Conflict
    Fictional Scenario: Descriptive Paragraphs
    Fictional Scenario: Action–Reaction Combinations
    Fictional Scenario: Development of a Strategy
    Cooperation and Conflict: General Treatment Approaches
    Interagency Cooperation and Adaptive Administration

    Impact on Organizational Leadership
    Leadership in Public Administration: Introduction
    Leadership Concepts
    Office of Personnel Management Center for Leadership Development
    Concepts for Adaptive Leadership

    Impact on Organizational Performance
    Improving Organizational Performance
    Perspectives on Performance
    Performance Demands, Stress, and Job Survival
    Balanced Scorecard Approach to Performance Management
    Adaptive Administration Approach to Performance Management

    Impact on Organizational Rigidity
    Rigidity and Flexibility in Organizations
    Basic Features of Rigidity and Flexibility
    Example: Organizations Based on Extreme Rigidity
    Example: Intervention

    Impact on Organizational Planning and Budgeting
    Adaptive Planning Strategies
    Widespread Change Impacts All Planning Efforts
    Adaptive Administration and Flexible Planning
    Standard Federal and State Strategic Planning

    Section IV: Issues Involved in a Transition to Adaptive Administration

    Issues Related to Acceptance of Adaptive Administration
    Adaptive Administration as a Change Strategy for Public Administration
    Acceptance and Rejection of Change
    Possible Change Strategies Involving Adaptive Administration
    Dealing with Acceptance and Rejection

    Issues Related to Risk
    Public-Sector Risk Analysis
    Types of Risk Analysis
    A Risk Analysis Procedure for Public Organizations
    Risk Management and Adaptive Administration
    Methods for Dealing with Risk and Risk Management

    Issues Relating to Theory Generators
    Use of Theory Generators in Public Administration
    Action–Reaction Theory Generators
    Theory Generator Example: The Affordable Care Act
    Affordable Care Act Example: Impact of Exchange Statute on Providers
    Affordable Care Act Example: Impact of Mandate on Large Employers
    Affordable Care Act Example: Impact of Exchange Statute on Federal Agencies
    Theory Generator Example: County Government
    Theory Generator Example: Combined Medical School–Teaching Hospital Study
    Other Approaches to Theory Generators
    Theory Generators Based on Needs: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
    Theory Generators Based on Conditioned Responses: Skinner’s Operant Conditioning
    Theory Generators Based on Task Performance: Taylor’s Time-and-Motion Studies

    Transition Strategies
    Adaptive Administration During a Transition Period
    Organizational Measures for Transition Use
    Toward the Future



    Ferd Mitchell holds MPA and DPA degrees from the University of Southern California, while Cheryl Mitchell holds an MPA from Golden Gate University. Ferd and Cheryl are both attorneys, and they practice together as married partners at Mitchell Law Office in Spokane, WA. They are also established authors of legal practice books for attorneys, with an emphasis on interpreting how new programs and program changes are likely to affect practice strategies.

    For many years, they have been developing procedures to evaluate how changes in the public sector affect organizations and often lead to actual program outcomes that differ from intended outcomes. As part of this effort, they have explored how qualitative methods of analysis can best be applied to enhance the understanding of such changes. They also have applied these insights to studies of the issues that exist today in public administration and policy, and how changes in the field may best be achieved.

    Ferd Mitchell has relevant experience in research, teaching, consulting, and performance of multidisciplinary studies for governmental agencies. He also supervised implementation of an innovative Medicaid program in North Carolina for a private company under contract to the state. He has served as Academic Administrator and Director of the Master of Health Services degree program in the School of Medicine at the University of California, Davis. While on leave for one year, he worked as Director of Research for the California Health Facilities Commission.

    Cheryl Mitchell has been exploring the relationships between public organizations and the individuals who are served by these organizations. Particular emphasis has been placed on the ways in which administrative problems develop in organizations, and how such problems may be addressed. She has been active in working with various public groups to address policy concerns.