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MPNA 620 Leading Public Service Organizations

This course introduces MPNA, MPA, MNLM, and other Metro State graduate students who are interested in public service to the theories and best practices of leading and managing public service organizations. This course will adapt the study of leadership and organizations to the unique obligations, functions, processes, and public values and societal outcomes that govern the decisions of the government and nonprofit sectors. Public service is the result of the work of local, state, and federal government; regional compacts or special districts; tribal governments; nonprofit organizations and social enterprises; partnerships between government and business; and international linkages (that are necessary for solving global problems likes pandemics and climate change) . The public service perspective is evident when government and civil society collectively marshal efforts to respond to human-made (9-11 Terrorist Attacks, Aurora, Colorado Theater Mass Shooting) and natural (Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy) disasters and public health emergencies (COVID-19 outbreak). The public service sector does not shut down during times of wars, terrorist attacks, disasters, and public health emergencies and epidemics. Public service organizations are fundamentally different from profit-seeking firms. They are organized to provide socially valuable goods and services, e.g., public education, social services for the unemployed and the homeless, child protection services, crime-fighting, disaster response, natural resource and environmental protection, climate change response, homeland security, and public health emergency response. They are, above all, governed by our democratic and rights-based traditions and culture. Accordingly, the government and the nonprofit sectors operate under greater public scrutiny and with unique public expectations for openness, transparency, honesty, accountability, public deliberation, citizen engagement, fairness and equity, and the pursuit of other public values that we deem important as a society. Government and many nonprofits, the most important actors in the public service sector, work hand-in-glove to deliver vital public goods and services and engage citizens and volunteers towards public ends. This course focuses on how public and nonprofit managers and leaders mobilize resources to achieve important public purposes. Students will be exposed to insights and best practices, with emphasis on public service, and learn the skills to develop into a capable leader.

Special information

Note: If you have completed MGMT 620 Organizational Behavior, do not register for this course.
4 Graduate credits

Effective May 6, 2020 to present

Learning outcomes


  • Have a greater understanding of the fundamental managerial and governance distinctions between public, for-profit, and nonprofit organizations and the implications of these differences to leading and managing public service organizations;
  • appreciate the public service perspective, the co-production of public goods mindset, and the constitutional and political approach to public governance and management;
  • understand the multiple levels of leadership in the public service sector (a street-level bureaucrat or a frontline nonprofit staff is a leader who can take initiatives to improve the common good) and the required knowledge and skills needed to lead oneself, lead groups and teams, lead organizations, and lead inter-governmental, inter-sectoral and inter-jurisdictional collaborations within the larger polity;
  • apply management and leadership tools to respond more effectively to increasingly more complex public service jobs, e.g., law enforcement and crime-fighting, and "wicked" social problems, e.g., poverty and inequality, climate change; and
  • demonstrate skills to summarize, appraise, and communicate organizational and management analyses in memos and professional presentations.

Fall 2024

Section Title Instructor books eservices
50 Leading Public Service Organizations Smendzuik-O'Brien, Julie Books for MPNA-620-50 Fall 2024 Course details for MPNA-620-50 Fall 2024