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Normed Core Topics
Subject matter for each of 120 course-weeks of instruction designed to meet MPP/MPA competency requirements

This page provides links to 120 “normed core topics” being developed to specify the subject matter that could be taught in 120 course-weeks of instruction to meet the competency requirements in the NASPAA and UNDESA/IASIA standards for Master’s-level public affairs programs, as described in MPP/MPA Core Competencies. (Tables A and B below are reproduced from that page.)

The normed topics are designed to reflect both the subject-matter requirements of the competency standards and the way the subject matter is taught in current MPP and MPA programs. Each topic is designed to be teachable at the public affairs Master’s-level in one course-week, which we propose is equivalent to 10 hours of combined in-class and outside-class study. We associate with each topic one or more of the approximately 1,000 entries from the Atlas Concept Dictionary drawn from MPP/MPA courses, and we also include one or more learning outcomes that could be used in assessing whether the student had mastered the topic to the level expected in MPP/MPA programs. Once normed topics are specified, they could be combined in myriad ways into courses, including courses that span one or more Atlas subject. For example, the 6 normed topics in Ethics, Rights and Accountability could be combined with the 6 normed topics in Democratic Institutions and Policy Process to produce a course on Ethics and Governance, or they could be combined with 6 topics in Analytical Methods to produce a course on Ethics and Analysis.

Creating a set of normed topics to meet competency standards is an ambitious undertaking in pedagogically challenging territory. Some aspects of our approach are inevitably built on assumptions and theories that are contestable. The conceptual underpinnings of our methodology, as well as some of the contestable issues that arise, are discussed in three Atlas working papers: What are the core curricular components of Master’s-level public management education and how is learning within them assessed?; The New World of Standards in Public Management Pedagogy: Comparing Universal Accreditation Competencies with the Actual Content of MPP and MPA Programs; and Normed Core Topics: A method for adding granularity to required competency standards in MPP and MPA programs; and will be further elaborated in the forthcoming Mapping the Topics and Learning Outcomes of a Core Curriculum for MPP and MPA Programs.

Analysis and Skills

 Policy and Management Analysis

  Policy Analysis and Contemporary Governance (1.1)
  Models of Policy Making (1.1)
  Rules vs. Discretion (2.3)
  Policy Evaluation (3.2)
  Policy Design and Instrument Choice (3.2)
  Recent Trends from Comparative Public Administration (1.2)
  The Meaning of Strategy in Public Management (3.4)
  Organizational Behaviour (1.1)
  Managing Conflict (1.8)
  Working in Teams and Motivation (1.4)
  Multi-level Governance (1.9)
  The Shift to Public Governance (2.2)
  Implementation and Policy (1.9)
  Performance Information as a Management Tool (3.1)
  The Role of Leadership in Strategy and Implementation (3.4)
  Implementing Through Markets (1.7)
  Implementing with Partners (2.4)
  Organizational Performance and Management Reform (2.3)

 Economic Analysis

  Theory of the Firm (3.2)
  Consumer Theory (3.2)
  Externalities (2.1)
  Public Goods and Commons Problems (3.2)
  Market Failure and Optimal Intervention (3.2)
  Monopoly, Oligopoly and Cournot Competition(3.2)
  Asymmetric Information and Signaling (3.2)
  Game Theory (3.2)
  Taxes and Lump Sum Transfers (3.2)
  Trade (3.2)
  Welfare Economics (4.4)
  Supply and Demand (3.2)

 Quantitative Methods

  Descriptive Statistics (3.2)
  Looking at Data (3.2)
  Probability Concepts (3.2)
  Sampling (3.2)
  Confidence Intervals and Hypothesis Testing (3.2)
  Simple Regression (3.2)
  Multivariate Analysis (3.2)
  Omitted Variable Bias (3.2)
  Randomized Trials (3.2)
  Research Design (3.2)
  Ethical Issues in Research (3.2)
  Panel Data, Fixed Effects, and Instrumental Variables (3.2)

 Analytic Methods

  Decision Analysis (3.6)
  Agency Theory (3.6)
  Cost-Benefit Analysis (3.2)
  Project Management (1.5)
  Risk Management (1.5)
  Impact of Bias on Decision-Making and Insights from Behavioural Economics (3.6)

 Leadership Skills

  Operational Skills (5.6)
  Networking (5.8)
  Acting like a Professional (5.9)
  Leadership in Public and Private Organizations (1.4)
  How Values Differ: Psychological Types and Moral Foundations (5.4)
  Setting Goals and Strategy (3.4)
  Identifying Resources for Leading Change (2.4)
  Mobilizing Potential Stakeholders (5.8)
  Negotiation (5.2)

 Communication Skills

  Effective Rhetoric and Generating Emotional Impact (5.2)
  Writing Memos, E-Mails and Internal Documents (5.1)
  Writing Op-Eds, Blogs and Public Documents (5.1)

Institutions and Context

 Democratic Institutions and Policy Process

  The Political Context of Policy Making (2.2)
  The Policy Cycle (2.3)
  Federalism (2.4)
  Political and Administrative Responsibilities (3.5)
  The International Context of Domestic Institutions (4.7)
  Indigenous Rights and Institutions (4.7)
  Executive Leadership in Government (2.2)
  Westminster Parliamentary Systems (2.2)
  Courts and Judicial Review (4.7)
  Public and Para-Public Institutions (4.7)
  Political Parties and Elections (4.7)
  Representation and Accountability (3.5)
  Institutional Designs and Paths (4.7)
  Public Opinion, Ideas and Policy Frames (1.2)
  Bureaucracy and the Formulation of Public Policy (2.3)
  New Public Management (4.7)
  Media, Framing and Agenda Setting (1.1)
  Actors, Interests and Lobbying (2.4)

 Ethics, Rights and Accountability

  Ethics in Public Policy and Management (4.5)
  Responsibility and Accountability (2.2)
  The Means and Ends Dilemma (4.3)
  Human Rights, Liberty and Limits (3.5)
  Ethics and Cost-Benefit Analysis (4.3)
  Political Philosophy, Paternalism, and the Welfare State (4.2)

 Socioeconomic and Political Context

  Race, Gender and Other Group Identities' Impact on Decision-Making (1.3)
  Indigenous Peoples (5.5)
  The Immigrant Society (5.5)
  Income Inequality (4.1)
  Changing Family Structures: Gender, Work, Inequality, and Poverty (2.6)
  Education, Labour Markets and Low-Skilled Workers (2.6)

 Global Context

  The Global Context (2.2)
  National Interests (2.2)
  Federal, Unitary and Hybrid States (2.2)

Management Functions

 Public Financial Management

  Financial Statements and Accounting Concepts (2.5)
  Planning and Budgeting (2.5)
  Costing and Forecasting (2.5)
  Capital Bugeting (2.5)
  Management Control: A Risk-Based Approach (3.3)
  Audit and Oversight in Managing Public Money (1.7)

 Evaluation and Performance Measurement

  Evaluation Purposes, Types and Questions (2.1)
  Fundamental Identification Problem: Causality, Counterfactual Responses, Heterogeneity, Selection (2.1)
  Assessing the Confounding Effects of Unobserved Factors (2.1)
  Sensitivity Analysis (3.2)
  Data Collection Strategies (3.2)
  Performance Measurement and Performance Management (3.1)

 Human Resource Management

  Managing People: Performance, Recruitment, Renewal (1.4)
  Evaluating Talent (3.1)
  Workplace Issues and Labour Relations (5.7)

 Information and Technology Management

  IT in the Public Sector: Costs and Challenges (1.6)
  Online Service Delivery (1.6)
  Open Government (1.6)

 Regulatory Policy and Management

 Local Government Management

 Nonprofit Management and Advocacy

 Tables reproduced from Tables 3 and 4 on the MPP/MPA Core Competencies page

  

Table A: Estimated number of course-weeks of study needed to master each competency example in the NASPAA competency domains

Domain with Examples

Core Subjects

Course-
Weeks

PM

EA

QM

AM

LS

CS

DI

SE

ER

GC

PF

EP

HR

IT

MP

En

1. Management of Public Service Organizations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Leading and managing in public governance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

1.1 Apply public management models and organization theory

3

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

5

1.2 Appraise organizational environment

1

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

1.3 Lead, manage, and serve a diverse workplace and citizenry

1

 

 

 

1

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

5

1.4 Lead and manage people

1

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

3

1.5 Manage projects

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

1.6 Manage information and networks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

3

1.7 Manage contracts and public-private partnerships

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

2

1.8 Resolve conflict and negotiate

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1.9 Understand relationship between policy and implement'n

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

Domain Total

9

0

0

2

3

0

2

2

0

0

1

1

2

3

0

0

25

2. Participating in and contributing to the policy process

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.1 Apply techniques for program evaluation and forecasting

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

 

 

1

 

6

2.2 Describe and work within inst ... political contexts...

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

2.3 Describe and execute the policymaking process

2

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

2.4 Incorporate int groups, … and media in policy process

2

 

 

 

 

1

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

2.5 Prepare a budget

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

2

2.6 Recognize the social construction of problems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

Domain Total

4

1

0

0

0

1

8

2

2

2

2

4

0

0

1

0

27

3. Analyzing, synthesizing, thinking .. solving problems, making decisions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.1 Measuring and improving human performance

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

1

 

 

 

3

3.2 Analytical tools for collecting, analyzing...interpreting data

2

10

12

1

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1

 

 

4

 

31

3.3 Alternative sources of funding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

1

3.4 Plan strategy

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

3.5 Understand and apply the legal context

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

1

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

3.6 Understand and apply theories of decision-mak'g ... models

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

Domain Total

5

10

12

3

0

0

2

1

1

1

2

1

1

0

4

0

43

4. Incorporating public values into decisions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.1 Apply concepts of social equity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

4.2 Behave ethically

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

4.3 Behave in a fair and ethical manner toward others

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

4.4 Distinguish short- from long-term fiscal consequences...

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1

 

3

4.5 Exercise ethical responsibility in research and ...

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

4.6 Identify environmental impacts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

3

4.7 Understand & apply criteria appropriate to public affairs...

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6

Domain Total

0

1

0

1

0

0

6

0

3

0

1

0

0

0

1

3

16

5. Communicating and interacting productively

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.1 Written communication

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

5.2 Oral communication

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

5.3 Demonstrate flexibility

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

5.4 Demonstrate self-knowledge

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

5.5 Sensitivity to diversity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

5.6 Facilitation

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

5.7 Negotiation

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

5.8 Relate to stakeholders

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

5.9 Work in teams

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Domain Total

0

0

0

0

6

2

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

9

Five-Domain Totals

18

12

12

6

9

3

18

6

6

3

6

6

3

3

6

3

120

Letter Key for Core Subjects

PM: Policy and Management Analysis       LS: Leadership Skills                                                        ER: Ethics, Rights and Accountability                        HR: Human Resource Management

EA: Economic Analysis                                  CS: Communication Skills                                               GC: Global Context                                                       IT: Info and Tech Management

QM: Quantitative Methods                         DI: Democratic Institutions and Policy Process          PF: Public Financial Management                              MP: Macroeconomic Policy

AM: Analytic Methods                                  SP: Socioeconomic and Political Context                    EP: Evaluation and Performance Measurement     En: Environment

 

Table B: Estimated number of course-weeks of study needed to master each subcomponent in the UNDESA/IASIA curriculum components

Component with Subcomponents

Core Subjects

Course-
Weeks

PM

EA

QM

AM

LS

CS

DI

SE

ER

GC

PF

EP

HR

IT

MP

En

1. Management of Public Service Organizations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.1 Human resource management

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1

1.2 Budgeting and financial processes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

5

1.3 Info mgt, new tech applications, and policy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

2

1.4 Administrative and constitutional law

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

1.5 Effective communication

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

1.6 Organization and mgt concepts and behavior

2

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

1.7 Not for profit and priv sector relationships...

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Component Total

2

0

0

0

1

2

5

0

0

0

5

0

1

2

0

0

18

2. Improvement of Public Sector Processes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.1 Development of high performing organizations

2

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

1

 

 

 

5

2.2 Management of networks and partnerships

1

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

2.3 The delivery of public goods and services

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

2

2.4 Management of projects and contracts

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

3

2.5 Supporting workforce diversity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

1

2.6 Motivation and design of public sector orgs

1

 

 

 

1

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

Component Total

5

0

0

2

2

0

2

0

0

0

1

1

2

1

0

0

16

3. Leadership Skills in the Public Sector

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.1 Creative and innovative problem solving

1

1

1

1

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

3.2 Leading institutional and org transformation

2

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

3.3 Conflict prevention and resolution strategies

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

3.4 Promoting equity in service delivery

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

3.5 Developing approaches to poverty alleviation

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

3

3.6 Promoting democratic institutional development

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

3.7 Public sector ethics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Component Totals

4

2

1

1

2

0

1

2

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

15

4. Application of Quant and Qualitative Techniques of Analysis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.1 Institutional and developmental economics

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

2

 

4

4.2 Pol and prog formulation, analysis...evaluation

2

8

8

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

 

1

 

25

4.3 Decision-making and problem-solving

1

1

1

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4

4.4 Strategic planning

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Component Total

4

9

9

2

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

5

0

0

3

0

34

5. Understanding Pub Pol and the Organizational Environment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.1 Political and legal institutions and processes

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5

5.2 Economic and social institutions and processes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3

5.3 Historical and cultural context

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

5.4 The management of economic development

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

3

5.5 The implications of the “third party government”

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

5.6 Acknowledging and reconciling cultural diversity

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Component Total

0

1

0

0

1

0

6

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

14

6. Public Sector Ethos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.1 Democratic values

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

6.2 Respect for individual and basic human rights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

6.3 Social equity and equitable dist’n of ...services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

6.4 Social and cultural diversity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1