Table of Contents
Organization and Management
Component C about “organizations in their contexts” consists of studying in detail the functioning of a public organization of our choice. The Public Sector Organization selected for this project was the perfect match for our research and we managed to obtain the answers we needed efficiently through interviews and surveys. Due to the confidentiality and anonymity clause, we promised the interviewees that we would treat the data given discreetly and therefore under fake names, being our chosen organization referred from now on as the Institute or as the Institute of Politics (IFP) in a mid-size city of western Germany. The interviewed employee will from now on be called Dr. X and the Chief Executive Officer will be mentioned as The Manager.
It is known that a public organization’s ultimate objective is to deliver services and create public value, as well as to contribute to the design and implementation of public policies. In order to achieve this goal, we can determine the existence of a hierarchy inside organizations, which distinguishes between employees, being who conduct the activities to provide services; and managers, who are the ones that actually “run the organization” (see: Component C Manual Guide, 2019, p. 3).
This project main research theme is related to the study of public management, which focuses on the inquiry of how a public organization works and how its environment and the way it is conducted affects directly on its performance and the creation of public value.
Through our study within the organization, we were able to sustain many of the aspects we learned about in our lectures, such as how internal and external management are a key issue, that is to say that the way managers make their decisions and treat their employees, together with external policies that affect the organization, led directly to their outcomes.
After an exhaustive research about the Institute and knowing its political-administrative environment along with other relevant characteristics, we conducted two interviews, one with a middle-manager, specifically a lecturer, who gave us insights about the organization’s funding sources and how external policies affect employees; and the other one with a higher ranked and experienced manager, that revealed how efficient policy-making in conjunction with the role of a good manager will stand out for a good performance.
We proceeded by the division of tasks, for example, being three of us the ones interviewing the managers, and the other two remaining doing the transcript. Before the interview, we prepared what questions we were going to ask and how so that we could answer our research thoroughly and we accompanied this with a survey that the interviewees had to fill out. As a result, what you would read below is the outcome of our research.
2. Political-Administrative Environment
The Institute for Political Science (hereinafter referred to as IFP) as a subunit of the University is embedded in a complex political-administrative environment since the university operates as a public organization in order to provide education and research for the society. In order to analyze the environment it is important to take into account the general public sector system of the IFP which is embedded in as well as the constraints, expectations and relations the institute faces.
In Germany, there is a total of 72 institutes for political science which in turn offer 156 political study programmes. Counting 1,900 students, the IFP is the third largest institute for political science in Germany (see: Westfälische-Wilhelms Universität Münster: Das Institut für Politikwissenschaft. In English).
In the respective Bundesland, there are in total 13 universities offering political studies of which two are in the closest vicinity (see: StudiScan Deutschland, Österreich, Schweiz: Politikwissenschaft (Politologie) Studium 2019/20 - Alle Bachelor-Studiengänge).
The University is the only (general) University in the mid-size city in western Germany. The five other types of universities located in the city are more of a specialized and often more practical nature as for instance the University of Applied Sciences (see: Westfälische-Wilhelms Universität Münster: Weitere münstersche Hochschulen).
However, the IFP is the only entity that offers political studies in the city, thus englobing the fact that it is a unique and highly regarded Institute regarding teaching as well as research.
Since universities are subject to the higher educational law system (Hochschulgesetz) of the respective Bundesland, certain conditions to the structure and the work of the University are presupposed (see: Gesetz über die Hochschulen des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, 2014). The IFP as a subunit of the University is consequently bound to the decision made by the federal state as well as by the head of the University. The Hochschulgesetz sets regulations concerning staffing, budgeting and funding of the University as well as conceptions about strategic goals and tasks in order to achieve them. Thus, the funding of the Institute is predetermined by the general funding of the Bundesland for the university as a whole, and then it is additionally dependent on the head of the university who allocates the resources within.
As mentioned above, the environment of the IFP is influenced by other universities and respective institutes for Political Science. The CEO of the IFP labeled them not only as competitors when it comes to the CHE-Ranking[I] about the performance of the institutes but especially as allies regarding corporations in various domains. According to one of the lecturers of the Institute, the exchange of knowledge and personnel as well as the cooperation in the domains of research are the most important factors when it comes to the interaction with surrounding educational entities.
In addition to the influences of the federal state and cooperation with other universities, other external organizations such as NGOs or private organizations play an important role when it comes to third-party-funding. Initiatives from both sides are taken concerning certain research projects. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to differentiate that the funding of such organizations is not provided for the institute as a whole but rather project-tailored.
To conclude, the regulatory environment is primarily determined by the educational law given by the Bundesland since the funding of the IFP is above all determined by such authority.
Furthermore, when assessing the environment of such public organization it is important to mention the and international position the IFP occupies.
Besides, the Institute participates in several interdisciplinary and interuniversity research projects and centres all around the world in order to maintain an international network and relationships. Such relationships can influence the structure of the IFP as demonstrated by the intensive cooperation with two foreign universities in the Netherlands and France which resulted in the development of two unique study programs. The Institute has founded a unique research cluster with several researchers from different universities in Germany participating. This research network has evolved to the largest of its kind in Germany (see: Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster: Religion and Politics. Cluster of Excellence at the WWU Münster.)
Thus, the ability to interact with external organizations within the Institute’s environment can enhance the performance of the institute itself and is well positioned due to international co-operation and scientific exchanges (see Rainey, 2014; Westfälische-Wilhelms Universität Münster: Das Institut für Politikwissenschaft. International.).
When talking about the consequences of operating in a particular environment, it is important to highlight how turbulence and interconnectedness are two elements that characterize the environments of most public organizations. Therefore, these elements in the environment of the Institute and of public agencies as a whole affect the morale of their managers and thus influence their performance and acceptance of reforms. In summary, organizations must adapt to their environment if they are to remain viable, and one of the main and central issues of organizations is coping with uncertainty. The IFP has achieved such measure due to the fact that it has a rather ample projection and outreach when talking about its offers of education and knowledge.
To continue, uncertainty and the degree of complexity and dynamics of the environment should not be considered as constant features in an organization. Rather, they are dependent on the perceptions of organization members and managers, who can decide if they vary in their appearance and attitude (see: Duncan, 1972). As mentioned above, the IFP works side by side with other local as well as international universities. Thus, the level of attractiveness has increased since offering unique study programs and research cluster.
Indeed, the Institute offers a wide range of research areas and counts with excellent working conditions and intensive support for students, all this forming part of the internal environment that the Institute portrays.
In conclusion, when talking about the organizations environment it is perceivable that the Institute’s almost regional monopoly position offers good premisses since it is the third largest political institute in Germany and the only institute providing political studies in the region of the city. Moreover, the institute faces relations with other public as well as private organizations such as other universities all around the globe. All these influence the structure and the performance of the Institute since the funding for certain projects is dependent on the level of cooperation with external financiers.
However, the regulations of the higher educational law system of the federal state and the university have to be obeyed. Finally, when evaluating the mentioned influences the environment postulates, one can conclude that the political-administrative environment which is primarily minted by being subordinate to the law of the Bundesland has a tendentially high impact on the structure as well as the acting of the Institute.
3. Organization and Management
The IFP counts with a variety of employees: professors, who usually have the status of civil servants and are hired from a board, lecturers, assistants to the professors, administrative positions such as secretaries and information technology experts which all together make up the official staff of 114 persons employed at the Institute.
All the positions and autonomies that frame the Institute portray a highly necessary and important image of the organization, managing to enforce one of the main goals of the Institute: teaching. In addition, the Institute is supported by electronic systems and have a high quality technology system, which allows students to have an easy access to material and also enhances the direct communication between students and lecturers. In the following, the internal structure of the organization, the managerial activities as well as the use of features such as information technology systems will be explained.
The internal structure of the IFP is characterized by different levels of hierarchy. The top-management level is represented by the executive direction (“Geschäftsführende Direktion”) including the position of the Chief Executive Officer. Each group of employees such as lecturers , professors and scientific as well as non-scientific assistants are represented by the respective board. Assistants are additionally represented by the “Mittelbauvertretung” which is the non-professorial teaching staff. Another component of the structure are the different secretariats for each managing position.
When talking about the management, it is of utmost importance to mention The Manager. In this case, it is important to highlight how she performs what is commonly known as the position of the CEO. Indeed, when we talk about management in an organization we refer to the application of “planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting and budgeting” (Gulick, 1937 as cited in Rainey, 2014, p. 23). In our case, the Institute is trying to apply its most adequate and dynamic educational systems in order to prove that its programs are handy and that they impact in a strikingly way the future of the students. Management decisions will impact the health of its work environment, its growth if growth as such is a goal and objective of the organization, it will also impact the customer value (students in our case) and the satisfaction of employees and The Manager when committing themselves to their job.
The Manager of the institute has been working in the position of the Chief Executive Office. To put in a nutshell, the authority and autonomy The Manager holds in the IFP is of utmost relevance for the public organisation that surrounds the institute. The active and flowing attitude and power showed through the position of CEO clearly has a great impact on the directive management and work processes inside the public organisation; it shows the commitment of The Manager to her domains of activity and also how she controls and sets the performance standards for acquiring positive results. Referring to McGregor (1960) as cited in Rainey (2014, p. 34), controlling falls into the management speech due to the fact that controlling certainly provides feedback for future planning activities (such as future lectures and seminars that Dr. X or The Manager have to carry out) and also aims to modify behavior and performance when deviations or limitations appear. All of this is clearly portrayed in the mechanisms of the IFP due to the fact that, through our interviews and surveys, we found out how between employees and the top-autonomy positions, there was a fluent and more freedom-like hierarchical control; thus, enforcing and showing how the cooperation and unity of the Institute was really present regarding the stratified pyramid. The Manager's mission as a whole is to create commitment by developing certain strategies that will convince and pin all employees on one common organization goal: the compatibility of duty with desire of teaching.
Furthermore, it belongs to her internal responsibilities and duties to manage the budget of the institution. Therefore she has to coordinate the funding which the institution acquires. In doing so, she receives internal inquiries regarding financial subsidies for individual projects, for example excursions of individual study programs.
The Manager stated that she is not primarily responsible for external communications and requests regarding certain contents of the study programmes offered at the IFP because therefore the institute has a position arranged which is called Program Coordinator. This position is responsible for the cooperation of, for example, individual study programs with third-party organizations or other universities. However, for financial issues, such as the financial support of organizations for research projects carried out at IFP, and questions of controlling processes within the institute, the CEO is again responsible. When it comes to internal relations The Manager stated that she is the first person to be contacted. Requests within the university e.g. from other institutes of the Fachbereich concerning corporations, funding or the availability of resources for projects are directly addressed to her. So that she is responsible for the coordination of internal and external (when still within the university) processes.
1 The CHE University Ranking is a detailed ranking of German universities and universities of applied sciences provided by the Centrum für Hochschulentwicklung (see: CHE Ranking. CHE Hochschulranking, http://www.che-ranking.de/cms/?getObject=42&getLang=de)