APWA Book Review

The Effective Public Manager: Achieving Success in a Changing Government (3rd Ed.)
336 pp * 2002 * Jossey-Bass * Steven Cohen and William Eimicke

Public managers face a unique set of challenges in running governmental organizations. The complexities of modern, increasingly interdependent economies and societies increase the demands for governance. President George W. Bush's war against global terrorism is perhaps the most obvious example of the demand for enhanced governance. Crime, toxic waste, terrorism, world hunger, crumbling infrastructure, racism, AIDS, and economic growth are only a few of the critical issues thrust upon public managers. Although the problems faced by public managers continue to grow, most public managers are ill-equipped to deliver quality leadership. Many of today's senior public managers are either untrained or poorly trained. In government, most promotions are based either on time-in-service or technical expertise. It is assumed that anyone can manage and that no learnable skills are involved.

The professionalization of public service and the growth of graduate study in public policy and management should begin to increase the number of trained managers in government. The Effective Public Manager is designed to provide practical help to those entering the ranks of public management and to those aspiring to become public managers. It is both a primer on public management and an essay that presents a vision of a new kind of public manager—an innovative and effective public manager, one who seeks to shape events rather than be shaped by them.

This book has several purposes. First, it describes the problems faced by public managers in managing an agency's internal operations and in communicating with the outside world. Second, the book provides strategies for addressing these management problems. Third, it provides personal advice to the public manager on how to build and maintain a professional reputation and how to advance in the bureaucratic hierarchy. Some of the points raised in The Effective Public Manager may seem obvious and some of the lessons might appear simplistic. But, this book provides a core set of concepts that can guide the management of public organizations.

Since it was first published more than a decade ago, The Effective Public Manager has become the standard manual for public administrators and students. This practical guide provides core concepts to help real-world managers and managers-to-be meet the demands of their jobs head-on rather than work around the constraints of government, and gives them the tools to shape events rather than be shaped by them. This thoroughly revised third edition:

  • Presents an updated and detailed examination of management innovation

  • Examines the centrality of government in an era of global communication and transportation, economic interdependence, and the threat of global terrorism

  • Contains information on the opportunities and challenges of managing public policy from and with private and nonprofit organizations

This book attempts to provide both the beginning manager and the student of public management with a description of the problems of public management and the strategies we have seen used to successfully overcome those problems. The Effective Public Manager is designed to be practical and to pull together disparate areas of knowledge. It is not comprehensive and, despite the assertive tone of the advice offered, represents only a beginning. The authors hope that the answers to management problems presented will help launch proving and innovative discussion among managers and policymakers in the public arena.

To obtain your copy, please call the APWA Bookstore at (800) 848-APWA, ext. 5254. Or, for more information on purchasing this publication and other American Public Works Association books, please visit the APWA Bookstore online at www.apwa.net/bookstore.