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College of Administrative and Financial Sciences
Assignment-1
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
CRN:
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
Instructions – PLEASE READ THEM CAREFULLY
• 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
page.
• 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)
Question
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)
MGT.K.1
(1.1)
MGT.K.3
(1.2)
MGT.S.1
(2.1)
MGT.V.1
(3.1)
Question- 1
Question-3, 4
Question-5
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).
Answers:
1
2
3
4
5
TOWARDS ‘COGNITIVELY COMPLEX’ PROBLEM-SOLVING:
SIX MODELS OF PUBLIC SERVICE REFORM
Willy McCourt
Abstract: This paper proposes ‘cognitively complex problem-solving’ as a refinement of the recent problemsolving approach to public service reform, and as an addition to existing political and institutional explanations
for the frequent failure of reform. In order to substantiate the new problem-solving model, it identifies and
selectively reviews six models of reform that have been practiced in developing countries over the past halfcentury: public administration; decentralization; pay and employment reform; New Public Management;
integrity and corruption reforms; and “bottom-up” reforms.
1. Introduction: Facing Up to Failure
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: 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 paper tries to do.
2. Evidence and Explanations: Politics and institutions
2.1
Evidence
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 (IEG,
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 (IEG, 2008: xiii and 83).
Reviewing overlapping evidence just before the first IEG evaluation, Nunberg (1997) 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 poor track record relative even to 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). 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
This paper is provided by the author in a post-publication version (under review with a journal at time of writing) which includes
a new argument about the cognitive value of a range of models as an aid to reform problem-solving. The original version was
published as McCourt, W. (2013) Models of public service reform: A problem-solving approach, Washington DC: World Bank,
Policy Research Working Paper No. 6428. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2013/04/17649169/models-public-servicereform-problem-solving-approach
the UK have been common enough to provide the material for a substantial recent book (Gage, 2012;
King and Crewe, 2013).
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’ (IEG, 2008: 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. i In this paper, 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.
2.2
Politics
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’ (World Bank, 1998: 53; see also Campos and Esfahani, 2000; Johnson and Wasty, 1993;
and Nelson, 1990). The management of the Bank and IMF took the lesson to heart, with the Bank’s
President at the time, James Wolfensohn (1999: 9), remarking that
‘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 et al., 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 countryspecific factors like the importance of public society and the media (Duncan et al., 2003; Robinson,
2007).
2.3
Institutionsii
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, and both primary and secondary
legislation enacted over several decades, give the President immense direct powers, with few procedural
checks on how he exercises them. 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.’ iii
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
2
require ‘political commitment’ of the kind which we discussed in the previous section. (Bana and
McCourt, 2006)
2.4
Beyond politics and institutions
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 and 2007). If we now focus for the
remainder of this paper on another group of factors, we do so in an additive spirit. We acknowledge the
political and institutional factors, but we suggest that they leave a significant explanatory residue.
3. Cognitively Complex Problem-Solving
What is the residue, and how should we deal with it? This paper 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. I have borrowed ‘problem situation’ from Karl Popper (1989: 129;
and 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.iv
I am not alone in adopting a problem-driven approach. I follow Fritz et al. (2009), who have already
applied it to political economy. Andrews (2013) has developed an alternative and more elaborate
problem-solving model in parallel with this paper. My paper, I suggest, refines their approaches in one
respect. Readers will be familiar with the saying that ‘If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every
problem becomes a nail.’ 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 the present writer, 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 in the light of previous reforms in
other places (Dolowitz and Marsh, 2000). In other words, my suggestion is that public service reforms
have sometimes failed because of the reformers’ cognitive narrowness.
My suggestion is informed by well-established work in organization studies 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 and Deal,
2003; George, 1972; Mitroff and 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 LéviStrauss, has called ‘bricolage’, rather than defaulting to a ‘best practice’ solution of the kind criticized by
Grindle (2007), Rodrik (2008) and many others.v
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 et al., 1983; Denison et al., 1995).
However, it seems plausible to suggest that it is a necessary one.
3
4. Models of Public Service Reform
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 policymakers, 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. I adopt
the definition of public service reform as ‘interventions that affect the organization, performance and
working conditions of employees paid from central, provincial or state government budgets.’vi
In keeping with our problem-solving approach, I locate the origin of reform in problems which
policymakers pose to themselves, or which circumstances thrust upon them. vii Abstracting from the
practice of developing country governments over recent decades, I identify six major problems; and I list
six families of reform (‘ideal types’ in Weber’s language) which I regard as attempted solutions.
Table 1: Public Service Reform Problems and Models
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Problem
How can we put government on an orderly
and efficient footing?
Model
‘Weberian’ public administration
and capacity-building
How can we get government closer to the
grassroots?
How can we make government more
affordable?
How can we make government perform
better and deliver on our key objectives?
How can we make government more
honest?
How can we make government more
responsive to citizens?
Decentralization
Main Action Period
Post-independence period
in south Asia and subSaharan Africa
1970s to present
Pay and employment reform
1980s and 1990s
New Public Management
1990s to present
Integrity
and
anti-corruption
reforms
‘Bottom-up’ reforms
1990s to present
Late 1990s to present
My stance aligns me unequivocally with those who prioritize context over ‘best practice’. I pay respect to
successful reform models; we can all learn from them. But they must be understood in terms of the
environment in which they have arisen; or, in the language I am using in this paper, in terms of the
‘problem situation’ as particular policymakers have perceived it. I reject the tendency of some
international reform brokers to treat reform models as ‘widgets’ (Joshi and Houtzager, 2012) which can
be transferred unaltered without regard to the environments that they are transferred from and to. I will
emphasize that point throughout this paper.
Emphasizing context means recognizing that ‘vice may be virtue uprooted,’ in the words of the AngloWelsh poet David Jones (1974: 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.
My simple problem-solving approach should not be taken too 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
4
only in the 2000s (Morocco) or even later (Serbia). However, there have been periods when particular
questions have dwelt on policymakers’ 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 I follow Popper, for whom managing unintended consequences was the essence of public policy).viii
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 relieve.
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 my grouping of public service reform approaches in terms of policy problems provides
a convenient structure for the paper, so my periodization gives us a convenient order in which to address
the approaches.
I lack space in this paper to deal with all six of the approaches. I shall discuss Approaches One, Two,
Four and Six in turn. (For Approach Two, see Evans (2003); and Turner and Hulme (1997); for Three,
see McCourt, 2001b; and Lindauer and Nunberg, 1994; for Five, see Klitgaard, 1988.)
5. ‘Weberian’ Public Administration and Capacity Building
I will deal with this briefly, since many readers are already familiar with it.
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:
?
?
?
?
?
?
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 labor, 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)
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
5
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 of course 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. Their data suggested that merit-based recruitment was
the most important bureaucratic element, followed by promotion from within and career stability for
public servants (Evans and 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
(Anderson et al., 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
centered on the personal and arbitrary power of an absolute ruler.
But there are a number of pre-conditions which may need to be in place for the model to produce the
results that Weber anticipated. I will mention two. The first is a culture in which rules are respected and
followed. (This point has been emphasized by Schick. I expand on it later in this paper.)
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 in the United States (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
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, either explicitly or
implicitly, to the task of eradication.
Capacity Building
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 centered 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.
There is no doubt that capacity affects performance, as even politically-orientated studies such as
Nelson’s (1990) recognize. But we have learned that capacity-building is a broad concept with a political
dimension (Boesen and 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
6
plans, supervisor involvement and post-training review arrangements (Grindle and Hilderbrand, 1995;
McCourt and Sola, 1999).
6. New Public Management (NPM)
In terms of the ‘periodization’ outlined in Table 1, NPM is the reform model which succeeded the public
administration model. Of course there was continuity as well as change in the succession. The OECD’s
(1995) review of public management developments, published at the high tide of NPM, includes
initiatives to improve management of HR, something that the Weberian model also emphasizes in its own
way. The essential change, however, was from the public administration doctrine of regular, predictable
and rule-governed behavior to behavior that was driven by performance. The public administration
doctrine tends to assume that if a sound framework of rules is put in place and public servants are
persuaded to adhere, adequate performance will follow. But the governments that went down the NPM
road were setting their sights on better rather than adequate performance. Moreover, continuing pressure
to restrain public expenditure meant that better performance could be bought only up to a point, and
although the stimulus of competition was introduced (as we shall see), it became clear that there were
limits to its use, intrinsic or political as the case may be. Thus the application of management techniques
became the formula deployed to square the circle of government that worked better while costing no more
(Pollitt, 1993).
NPM in practice has been driven by four management imperatives: delegation, performance, competition
and responsiveness to clients. Delegation has had two aspects. First, there is the hiving off of
responsibilities to the private sector through privatization, especially of industries which had previously
been nationalized; and the consequent emergence of elaborate frameworks for regulating them in the
public interest. Second, there is the devolution of management authority to lower levels in the public
sector hierarchy.
Privatization and regulation are outside the scope of this paper, and we have already dealt with ‘devolving
authority’ in the section above on administrative decentralization. I shall now discuss the remaining two
imperatives: improving performance and providing responsive service.
Improving Performance
The NPM approach to ensuring performance hinges on the formulation and measurement of performance
indicators. In the early days of NPM, such indicators usually addressed the internal operations of
individual agencies. In a typical example, Denmark’s national library undertook to increase productivity
by 10 percent, increase the number of transactions by 2.5 percent annually and put purchases prior to
1979 on computer, all by the end of 1996 (OECD, 1995: 35). Subsequently, the technology of monitoring
performance has grown sophisticated, with performance management indicators that are outcome- rather
than output- or input-based (

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