The management of public agencies in an inter-organisational context

Aitkenhead, Douglas T (1979) The management of public agencies in an inter-organisational context. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This study focusses on three distinct yet interrelated topics; the development and growth of the public agency as an administrative form, the methods whereby the activities of public agencies might be more fully integrated with the activities of Local Authorities through inter-corporate planning, and the changes necessary in planning education to effect a role re-definition in planning to enable planners to become equipped for the inter-corporate dimension. In response to criticism of those theories of planning which fail to take into account the macro-societal context of planners' activities, Chapter One discusses the macro-sociological perspectives of both Marxist analysis (in two of its variant forms) and Corporatist thought in an attempt to explain the particular forms that state activity may take. However, a functionalist bias dominates these schools of thought and it is suggested that in order to explain more fully the growth of public agencies and the particular administrative form they may take, it is necessary to develop more specific micro-theories of agency growth and a critical appraisal of these is developed in Chapter Two. After a further critical appraisal of attempts at taxonomy and classification of public agencies which ultimately proves somewhat unproductive, this discussion is concluded by suggesting that, although government agencies differ in a number of ways in their relationship with both Central Government and other organisations, they can be reduced to one common denominator, that is the fact that they are all organisations. This perspective is used to widen the conventionally held assumptions about agency accountability into the much more realistic view of agency discretion (a point which it is suggested could be much further developed by future research). After suggesting a tentative classification scheme as a guide for Local Authorities, this is used as a surrogate measure to estimate the numbers of such bodies likely to interact most frequently with Local Authorities although, as is emphasised in the text, these numbers are closer to 'guestimates' due to the inadequacies of conventional definitions. Chapter Three, after a brief discussion of the inadequacies of conventional views of central-local relations, illustrates the consequences of agency interaction in situations where inter-corporate coordination has been poor. In an attempt to look more deeply at the methods of co-ordination suggested by the few authors who have considered it, it is argued that one needs to discuss inter-agency interaction from the perspective of inter-organisational analysis in order to fully understand the way in which government agencies interact in a dynamic setting. Given that this literature is diffuse, the subject is approached through a consideration of the work of three authors in order to highlight the most significant points. Management techniques and Organisational Design are introduced in the last sections of this chapter. The concepts and ideas introduced in Chapter Three are more fully applied in analysing multiple-organisation situations in the public sector in Chapter Pour. After focussing briefly on corporate planning and management in order to characterise the orthodox views of public sector management and its weakness when applied inter-corporately three case examples, the Glasgow Eastern Area Renewal Scheme, the Passenger Transport Executives and the Scottish Regional Reports, are critically appraised in terms of their original organisational design (iii) and the results that they were intended to achieve. Consideration of these examples serves to demonstrate the inherent conservatism in the respect of organisational autonomy in what were intended to be fully comprehensive attempts at 'planning', and specific suggestions for improvements are included. Having emphasised that the realities of public policy-making are inter-corporate, the final concluding chapter looks at how a role re-definition of planning may be effected through changes in planning education in order to bring some order again to urban change. It is suggested that planners have developed intra-corporate techniques which could be usefully developed for the management of inter-corporate situations, although, as is pointed out, the 'urban management' debate has been unnecessarily stigmatised through the writings of Pahl. Having shown that Pahl's concerns were in fact very much narrower than the concerns of this study, concern is shifted to looking at how inter- organisational analysis can be included in planning education. Using the work of Faludi as a basis for the consideration of the role of theory in planning education, criticism is directed at his procedural/ substantive distinction as a basis for the incorporation of inter- organisational analysis into planning education. The study concludes with suggestions for integration of inter-organisational sociology into planning schools' curricula and ends with the exhortation for a professional role re-definition on the basis of a changing view of the public sector.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: Brian Hogwood
Keywords: Public administration
Date of Award: 1979
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1979-74115
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2019 15:33
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2019 15:33
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/74115

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