1st Edition

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

ISBN 9781498737555
Published November 5, 2015 by Routledge
256 Pages

USD $89.95

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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


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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.