Joseph Bower

Donald K. David Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, HBS

This course examines the particular challenges of running public sector organizations from the perspective of the men and women responsible for leading them. Since "public sector" encompasses elected and appointed officials at federal, state and local levels, - and since the powers of a governor of one state may be different from another - the course early on introduces a framework for thinking about the differences among those many and various jobs. Because the nature of the challenges facing leaders varies enormously with the substantive issues they face, the course focuses on just two that are of high salience at this time, and probably many years to come: education and healthcare. In the other classes, cases will be drawn from a wide variety of problem areas. While the focus of the course is not on public policy in these areas, the focus develops increased substantive understanding. But as the course title suggests, the course perspective is on the tools, skills, attitudes and values of effective public leaders. Because many of the "tools" or sources of managerial influence are constrained by statutes in ways that they are not when those tools are used in the business, we take time to examine how the resulting challenges can be addressed. We also consider approaches open to public sector leaders not available in business. In particular, the sources of power and legitimacy available to public managers are vital if used skillfully. This framework of ideas is used throughout the course.