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College of Administrative and Financial Sciences
MGT425-Spreadsheet Decision Modeling
Deadline: End of Week 6 @ 23:59 (14/01/2023)
Course Name:
Spreadsheet Decision Modeling
Student’s Name:
Course Code: MGT425
Student’s ID Number:
Semester: 2
Academic Year: Second Term- 2022-2023 (1444 H)
For Instructor’s Use only
Instructor’s Name:
Students’ Grade: Marks Obtained/Out of 15 Level of Marks: High/Middle/Low
• The Assignment must be submitted on Blackboard (WORD format only) via
allocated folder.
• Assignments submitted through email will not be accepted.
• Students are advised to make their work clear and well presented; marks may be
reduced for poor presentation. This includes filling your information on the cover
• Students must mention question number clearly in their answer.
• Late submission will NOT be accepted.
• Avoid plagiarism, the work should be in your own words, copying from students or
other resources without proper referencing will result in ZERO marks. No exceptions.
• All answered must be typed using Times New Roman (size 12, double-spaced) font.
No pictures containing text will be accepted and will be considered plagiarism).
• Submissions without this cover page will NOT be accepted.
Course Learning Outcomes-Covered
Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)
Find some structured ways of dealing with complex managerial
decision problems.
Explain simple decision models and management science ideas
that provide powerful and (often surprising) qualitative insight
about large spectrum of managerial problems.
Demonstrate the tools for deciding when and which decision
models to use for specific problems.
Build an understanding of the kind of problems that is tackled
using Spreadsheet Modeling and decision analysis.
Question- 2.
Aligned (PLOs)
Question- 1
Question-3, 4
Assignment Instructions:
• Log in to Saudi Digital Library (SDL) via University’s website
• On first page of SDL, choose “English Databases”
• From the list find and click on EBSCO database.
• In the Search Bar of EBSCO find the following article:
Title: Towards “Cognitively Complex” Problem Solving: Six Models of Public Service Reforms
(Case Study).
Author: Willy McCourt
Assignment Questions: (Marks 15)
Read the above case study and answer the following Questions:
Question 1: What do you understand by the Cognitively Complex Problem-Solving method used in
this case study/ (250-300 words) (3-Marks).
Question 2: Discuss the six models of problem-solving approach that are useful for public service
reform (250-300 words). (3-Marks).
Question 3: What are the expected problems in public service reform, and suggest a suitable
solution? (250-300 words) (3-Marks).
Question 4: Why capacity building is a distinctive feature of public administration at various
organizations in many countries? (250-300 words) (3-Marks).
Question 5: What is your learning from this case study and how it is beneficial for you? (250-300
words) (3-Marks).
Received: April 2014
Accepted: June 2017
DOI: 10.1111/dpr.12306
Towards “cognitively complex” problem-­solving: Six
models of public service reform
Willy McCourt
Global Development Institute, University of
Willy McCourt
This article proposes “cognitively complex problem-­
solving” as a refinement of the recent problem-­solving approach to public service reform, and as an addition to
existing political and institutional explanations for the frequent failure of reform. It substantiates the new problem-­
solving model by identifying and selectively reviewing six
models of reform that have been practised in developing
countries over the past half-­century: public administration,
decentralization, pay and employment reform, New Public
Management, integrity and corruption reforms and “bottom-­up” reforms. A short case study of Myanmar is presented to illustrate the problem-­
solving approach in
New public management, problem-solving, public service reform
When Apollo declared through his Oracle at Delphi that no one was wiser than Socrates, what the god
was trying to get across (at least according to Socrates himself, who declined to take the compliment
at face value) was that “The wisest of you men is he who has realised, like Socrates, that in respect of
wisdom he is really worthless” (Plato, 1969, p. 52). To say that what we know about public service
reform is “worthless” would be an exaggeration. But a confession of our relative ignorance may still
be the beginning of wisdom. It will be fruitful if it helps us to frame the problem that faces us in a way
that stimulates readers to propose approaches that stand a better chance of success than the ones we
have been following up to now. That is what this article tries to do.
© The Author 2018. Development Policy Review © 2018 Overseas Development Institute
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Dev Policy Rev. 2018;36:O748–O768.
| O749
The most robust evidence that we have of reform outcomes is in the form of World Bank project
evaluation reports. The Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) found that that only 33% of
the public service reform projects completed between 1980 and 1997 had been rated as satisfactory
(World Bank, 1999). When IEG revisited the topic nine years later, public sector reform was rated
joint eighth among the Bank’s twelve project sectors in terms of project success, and its success rate
had declined over the previous five years more sharply than all but one of the other eleven sectors
(World Bank, 2008). Reviewing overlapping evidence just before the first IEG evaluation, Nunberg
(1997b) also found that the success rate was lower than for Bank projects as a whole.
We should keep these negative findings in perspective. World Bank projects are a skewed
sample. The Bank operates predominantly in low-­and middle-­income countries where reform is
difficult. The Bank’s own finding that its civil service reform projects have a poorer track record
than other kinds of public service reform (such as public financial reform) disappears when we
allow for the fact that they are disproportionately located in poor and unstable countries (Blum,
2014). The Bank’s perspective when it evaluates its projects is not necessarily the same as that of
the beneficiaries or other stakeholders. Moreover, failure is by no means the exclusive prerogative
of civil service reform, or even international development. Business start-­ups in the US funded
by venture capital have a failure rate of anything from 25% to 75%. Public policy failures in the
UK have been common enough to provide the material for a substantial recent book by King and
Crewe (2013) (Gage, 2012).
However, even if we amend “relatively poor” to “relatively not bad,” the outcomes have not been
good enough. Moreover, the “frequent failures” and the perception of public service reform as “out of
fashion or too difficult in practice” (World Bank, 2008, pp. xvi, 65)—as recently as 2010, an internal
Bank paper carried the title Why do Bank-supported public service reform efforts have such a poor
track record?—are likely to have a chilling effect on activity if not addressed.1 In this article, we
briefly review two existing explanatory factors, politics and institutions, before proposing a third factor of our own, cognitive complexity, which we illustrate through a discussion of alternative models
of public service reform.
While IEG’s remedial recommendations in 1999 were mainly technocratic and piecemeal, by 2008,
IEG was identifying “political feasibility” as a key factor. (Similarly, political commitment to reform by client governments had pride of place in Nunberg’s 1997 review.) This emphasis on politics
reflected the political economy studies of the structural adjustment era, based on which the Bank’s
1998 Assessing Aid report concluded that “Successful reform depends primarily on a country’s institutional and political characteristics” (Campos & Esfahani, 2000; Johnson & Wasty, 1993; Nelson,
1990; World Bank, 1998, p. 53). The management of the Bank and the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) took the lesson to heart, with the Bank’s President at the time, James Wolfensohn (1999, p. 9),
remarking that
In the author’s personal experience as a practitioner, this is already happening.
| ??
It is clear to all of us that ownership is essential. Countries must be in the driver’s seat
and set the course. They must determine goals and the phasing, timing and sequencing
of programs.
After the dawning of that realization on the international development agencies in the late 1990s, the
decade of the 2000s could be called the decade of politics, with the Swedish and UK governments, and
the World Bank, all sponsoring studies of the politics of reform (Dahl-­Østergaard, Unsworth, Robinson,
& Jensen, 2005), and with one of the largest US development consulting companies employing as many
specialists in politics as in public administration (Cooley, 2008). The studies pointed to generic factors
like technical capacity, insulation from societal interests and building incentives for politicians to embark
on reform; and country-­specific factors like the importance of public society and the media (Duncan,
Macmillan, & Simutanyi, 2003; Robinson, 2007).
Beyond politics and institutions
The Assessing Aid report highlighted institutional as well as political characteristics, and they are a
second group of factors which affect the success of reform. Tanzania’s legal framework for public
staff management illustrates their subtle influence. The Constitution, as well as primary and secondary legislation enacted over several decades, give the President immense direct powers, with few
procedural checks on how the powers are exercised. For example, the Public Service Act, 2002 states
that (any) delegation to the Public Service Commission (PSC) “shall not preclude the President from
himself exercising any function which is the subject of any delegation or authorization.” Further, “The
President may remove any public servant from the service of the Republic if the President considers
it in the public interest to do so.”
An earlier Act states that “Whether the President validly performed any function conferred on him
… shall not be inquired into by or in any court.”3
As a consequence, Tanzania’s senior officials have little job security. One of them remarked that
“the President changes the top officers in the service in a similar way as (sic) he changes attire.” Yet
increasing their security, or restoring the independence of the PSC, would require both a constitutional amendment and the revision or repeal of many separate laws and procedures; and, they, in turn,
would require “political commitment” of the kind which we discussed in the previous section. (Bana
& McCourt, 2006)
We have discussed politics and institutions quite briefly, not because they are minor factors, but because they are quite well understood by now (which is not to say, of course, that they have invariably
translated into the practice of governments and development agencies). However, they do not provide
an exhaustive explanation for reform outcomes. Organizations can succeed while others are failing
within a single political dispensation (Grindle, 1997; Tendler, 1997). Similar institutions, such as the
Commonwealth public service commissions which are responsible for appointing and, sometimes,
managing public staff, have had different outcomes in different countries (McCourt, 2003, 2007). If
we now focus for the remainder of this article on another group of factors, we do so in an additive
I use ‘institutions’ in this article to refer to the formal laws and agencies of the state (such as a Civil Service Law or an Election
Commission), and not the informal institutions of society (such as the family).
| O751
spirit. We acknowledge the political and institutional factors, but we suggest that they leave a significant explanatory residue.
What is the residue, and how should we deal with it? This article proposes a problem-­solving approach,
viewing the different reform interventions as ways of dealing with the problem situation as different
national governments have defined it. “Problem situation” is borrowed from Karl Popper (1989, 1999).
Popper argues that at any given point in the history of science there is an agenda which arises from
problems which current theories have created or failed to solve: “You pick up, and try to continue, a line
of inquiry which has the whole background of the earlier development of science behind it.” Similarly,
it seems to us that at any given point in the development of public administration in a particular country,
there is an agenda of problems which the previous experience of reform has created, and which confronts the most perceptive national policy-­makers and other stakeholders (Fritz, Kaiser, & Levy, 2009).
This article is not alone in adopting a problem-­solving approach. It follows Fritz et al. (2009), who
applied it to political economy. Andrews (2013) has developed an alternative and more elaborate
problem-­solving model in parallel with this article. This article attempts to refine those approaches in
one respect. Readers will be familiar with the saying “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like
a nail.”4 Identifying a problem, or problem situation, is not an end in itself. We must propose a solution.
And when we do so, at least in the experience of this author, we tend to fall back on the tools in our
reform toolbox; all too often, reform problems do get treated as “nails.” In a globalized world, most
reform does not start from first principles, but from previous reforms in other places (Dolowitz &
Marsh, 2000). In other words, the suggestion is that public service reforms have sometimes failed because of the reformers’ cognitive narrowness.
The notion of “cognitive complexity” is borrowed from psychology, where it is defined as
an aspect of a person’s cognitive functioning which at one end is defined by the use of
many constructs with many relationships to one another (complexity) and at the other
end by the use of few constructs with limited relationships to one another (simplicity)
(Cervone & Pervin, 2015).
People with a large set of interpersonal constructs tend to have better social perception skills than those
with a relatively small set (Delia, O’Keefe, & O’Keefe, 1982).
This psychological finding has been applied in organization studies, in work which emphasizes the
value in decision-­making of a range of perspectives. A wide “information range” makes it easier to
spot problems and opportunities, or reframe problems that have been intractable up to now (Bolman
& Deal, 2003; George, 1972; Mitroff & Emshoff, 1979). It contributes to the “cognitive complexity”
of reformers; their ability to entertain a range of options and engage in what Weick (1993), drawing
on Lévi-­Strauss, has called “bricolage” (Lévi-­Strauss used this term to describe the characteristics of
“mythical thought” or “the science of the concrete” associated with so-­called “primitive” cultures, in
contrast to modern technological thinking) rather than defaulting to a “best practice” solution of the
kind criticized by Grindle (2007), Rodrik (2008) and many others.5
Though probably a traditional saying, it is often attributed to Abraham Maslow (1962, 1966), who wrote “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
See also Wilkinson (2006) on the related concept of tolerance of ambiguity as an attribute of successful leaders.
| ??
To be sure, cognitive complexity is not a sufficient condition for policy success, which also entails such
features as ethical understanding and some finesse in action (Bartunek, Gordon, & Preszler Wethersby,
1983; Denison, Hooijberg, & Quinn, 1995). However, it seems plausible to suggest that it is a necessary one.
In applying a “cognitively complex” approach to problem-­solving, we cannot make bricks without
straw. If we are serious about respecting the specific priorities of developing country policy-­makers,
and compensating for past cognitive deficiencies, then we will need a variety of tools. We flesh out
the approach by a selective review of the experience of public service reform in developing countries.
“Reform” is necessarily a broad term. Public service reform has been defined as “interventions
that affect the organization, performance and working conditions of employees paid from central,
provincial or state government budgets” (Rao, 2013). It can be seen as policies implemented by public
agencies with the intention of improving some aspect of the functioning of that agency. In this article,
it will be defined operationally as the six reform “families” which are listed in Table 1.
In keeping with our problem-­solving approach, the origin of reform is located in problems which
policy-­makers pose to themselves, or which circumstances thrust upon them.6 Abstracting from the
practice of developing country governments over recent decades, six major problems are identified,
and six families of reform are listed as attempted solutions.
This stance aligns us unequivocally with those who prioritize context over “best practice.” We
pay respect to successful reform models. But they must be understood in terms of the environment
in which they have arisen; or, in the language used in this paper, in terms of the “problem situation”
as particular policy-­makers have perceived it. We reject the tendency of some international reform
brokers to treat reform models as “widgets” (Joshi & Houtzager, 2012) which can be transferred
unaltered without regard to the environments that they are transferred from and to. That point will be
emphasized throughout this article.
Public Service Reform Problems and Models
Main Action Period
1. How can we put government on an
orderly and efficient footing?
“Weberian” public administration and capacity-­building
Post-­independence period in
south Asia and sub-­Saharan
2. How can we get government closer to
the grassroots?
1970s to present
3. How can we make government more
Pay and employment reform
1980s and 1990s
4. How can we make government perform
better and deliver on our key objectives?
New Public Management
1990s to present
5. How can we make government more
Integrity and anti-­corruption
1990s to present
6. How can we make government more
responsive to citizens?
“Bottom-­up” reforms
Late 1990s to present
Many others have recognized that governments tailor approaches to their circumstances (Nunberg, 1997a; Turner, 2002).
| O753
Emphasizing context means recognizing that “vice may be virtue uprooted,” in the words of the
Anglo-­Welsh poet David Jones (1974, p. 56). It is not appropriate to express a preference for any of
the approaches listed in Table 1, all of which are already normative rather than descriptive (the list
does not include perverse problems which have absorbed some officials’ attention, such as how to
make government a vehicle for rent-­seeking or patronage). I hope instead to provide enough detail for
readers to decide what they have to offer in terms of the “problem situation” in readers’ own countries
or the countries with which they are concerned.
Our simple problem-­solving approach should not be taken literally. First, our models are what
Weber called “ideal types.” They are abstracted from reality for analysis. Likewise, the periodization
of the third column in the Table should be handled with a light touch. Governments did not suddenly
discover honesty in the 1990s, and particular governments started pay and employment reform for the
first time only in the 2000s (Morocco) or even later (Serbia). However, there have been periods when
particular questions have dwelt on policy-­makers’ minds. Public policy questions arise in the order
they do partly because external shocks like the oil price rises of the 1970s foist them on policy-­makers’
attention. But they also arise as reactions to the unintended consequences of the previous generation
of reforms (here again we follow Popper, for whom managing unintended consequences was the essence of public policy).7 The bureaucratization that was the unintended consequence of Weberian
public administration created the need for decentralization. The expansion of state capacity had the
unintended consequence of creating a fiscal burden which pay and employment reform was framed to
Context has a temporal as well as a spatial dimension. An administration’s “problem situation” is
dynamic. By solving one problem we always create another as an unintended consequence.
Moreover, just as grouping public service reform approaches in terms of policy problems provides
a convenient structure for the article, so the periodization outlined in Table 1 gives us a convenient
order in which to address the approaches.
There is insufficient space in this article to deal with all six of the approaches. We shall discuss Approaches One, Four and Six in turn: Approaches Four and Six will be relevant to the
Myanmar case presented later in the article. (For Approach Two, see Evans (2003) and Turner &
Hulme (1997); for Three, see McCourt (2001) and Lindauer & Nunberg (Eds.) (1994); for Five, see
Klitgaard (1988).)
We shall briefly address this familiar concept.
Bureaucracy and (neo)patrimonialism
The public administration model in developing countries is essentially the classic Weberian model of
bureaucracy harnessed to the needs of the developmental state. The German sociologist Max Weber
located its origins, for both the public and private sectors, in the growth and complexity of the tasks
of modern organizations; and also in democratization, which created an expectation that citizens, and
members of an organization, would be treated equally. The main features of the model are:
See also Merton (1936). Merton and Popper seem to have come up with the idea independently of each other.
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• A separation between politics and elected politicians on the one hand and administration and appointed administrators on the other
• Administration is continuous, predictable and rule-governed
• Administrators are appointed on the basis of qualifications, and are trained professionals
• There is a functional division of labour, and a hierarchy of tasks and people
• Resources belong to the organization, not to the individuals who work in it
• Public servants serve public rather than private interests (Minogue, 2001)
There are partial exceptions, for example the socialist countries of East Asia such as Lao PDR and
Vietnam, which do not recognize the separation of administration and politics. But in practical terms,
administrations that follow the Weberian model—and almost all do pay at least lip service—begin by
putting in place a system of rules. Where staffing is concerned, we can expect to find a compendium of
posts, arranged in a hierarchy according to rank, with statements of the duties expected of each post (in
some countries this is called a “scheme of service”). There will be clear guidelines about how the posts
should be advertised and filled, how pay grades are determined, and so on. The rules and guidelines will
be overseen by central agencies such as the finance ministry and the public service commission or similar
body. There will be similar rules for the control of government spending, overseen by the relevant central
body, such as a procurement agency (Schick, 1998).
Administration tends to be highly centralized: the model posits an unbroken hierarchical chain
from the top (in the capital) to the bottom (in the remotest outpost of government). The tendency is to
focus on inputs, in the sense of the efficient management of resources rather than outputs in the sense
of the goods and services that the resources are used to produce, let alone outcomes in the sense of the
social and economic results that derive from the outputs.
Bureaucracy has a bad name in the popular imagination. However, a study commissioned by the
World Bank in the run-­up to its 1997 World Development Report found a close statistical connection
between public bureaucracy and economic growth. The study data suggested that merit-­based recruitment was the most important bureaucratic element, followed by promotion from within and career
stability for public servants (Evans & Rauch, 1999). Further support for meritocracy came from a
more detailed study of personnel management in the Kyrgyz and Slovak republics and in Romania.
It highlighted the importance of sound administrative procedures underpinning merit, very much as
outlined here (World Bank, 2003). So, we have recent evidence that Weber’s century-­old insight was
basically sound: the bureaucratic model was indeed the efficient successor to patrimonial regimes
which had centred on the personal and arbitrary power of an absolute ruler.
But there are a number of preconditions which may need to be in place for the model to produce the
results that Weber anticipated. Let us mention two. The first is a culture in which rules are respected
and followed. (This point has been emphasized by Schick. We expand on it later in this article.)
A second condition is that the Weberian rules should not be undermined by patronage pressures.
Weber did not anticipate that bureaucracy and patrimonialism would become fused in the hybrid of
“neopatrimonialism,” where state resources are diverted for patronage purposes such as securing support in an election. This neopatrimonial hybrid is widespread, having been identified in modern times
in places as far apart as Greece and Chicago (Clapham, 1982).
As the state developed, it was perhaps inevitable that there would be an attempt to use its growing
resources in the same way that “traditional” patrons used private resources: to co-­opt supporters and
ensure their loyalty (McCourt, 2007). But the neopatrimonial twist was that patronage operated by a
single, visible patron mutated into patronage operated by political parties and other broad groupings,
often organized on a national scale. With many individuals implicated at different levels, this stubborn
| O755
neopatrimonial bush with its complex root system could be even harder to eradicate than its relatively
simple patrimonial predecessor. Much recent reform effort has been devoted, to the task of eradication.
A distinctive feature of public administration in developing countries is that, unlike industrialized countries, where capacity evolved gradually, developing countries have put in place crash programmes of
capacity-­building following independence and, more recently, armed conflict and state collapse. The
programmes have centred on staff training and development. The assumption is that public administration is deficient because public administrators lack skills which can be readily imparted through
training. The “training and visit” system for agriculture extension workers was a typical example.
In the context of a fixed programme of field visits overseen by their supervisors, extension workers
received frequent one-­day training sessions to impart the three or four most important agricultural
recommendations that they should pass on to farmers in the following few weeks (Hulme, 1992).
There is no doubt that capacity affects performance, as even politically orientated studies such as
the collection edited by Nelson (1990) recognize. But we have learnt that capacity-­building is a broad
concept with a political dimension (Boesen & Therkildsen, 2005). Moreover, it is rarely effective in
an organizational vacuum. For example, capacity-­building at the individual level usually takes place
on training courses, away from the workplace. Learning designs need to make a bridge from training
to the “action environment” of work—its organizational culture, management practices and communication networks—in the form of action plans, supervisor involvement and post-­training review
arrangements (Grindle & Hilderbrand, 1995; McCourt & Sola, 1999).

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