Agendas and Decisions: How State Government Executives and by Dorothy F. Olshfski

By Dorothy F. Olshfski

Reports how state-level public executives and bosses in Tennessee come to a decision and enforce coverage.

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Extra resources for Agendas and Decisions: How State Government Executives and Middle Managers Make and Administer Policy

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What are the pressing issues? What should we be doing? Are we neglecting an important task? The answers to these questions will determine the content of the work that the executives and managers perform, and that is the focus of this chapter. We will show how state executives and managers identify the situations that constitute their managerial and policy agendas and illustrate how executives differ from middle managers. PROBLEM IDENT IFICAT ION/AGENDA SET T ING The decision-making process commences with problem identification, or “agenda setting” (Anderson 2006, ch.

The executive who allows subordinates wide decision latitude lowers the density of the middle manager’s environment; the executive who must approve each decision taken by a subordinate increases the density of the subordinate’s environment. Middle manager environment constraints arise from being in the middle of the organizational structure, from interest groups seeking benefits, and from other government agencies. A middle manager attempting to change the hospital reimbursement policy in response to a federal initiative included hospital representatives in the planning and design stages of the policy.

Elected officials make policy; administrators implement policy. The politicsadministration dichotomy is a partial truth. Elected officials make policy, but they may also involve themselves in implementation by micromanaging. Administrators cannot avoid influencing policy as they implement the legislation handed them by elected officials. Politics and administration are distinct and separate, but also entwined. A “problem” or an “opportunity” has life only if it is so identified by someone with sufficient influence to direct attention toward that situation.

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