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Organizations and their programs often seem, at first glance, chaotic and without order. Students embarking on evaluations and similar research, therefore, feel perplexed when faced with a live organization. This is because we have been taught to expect a certain kind of rationality in the way organizations behave that is different than that which actually drives them. As a result of this seeming mismatch between what we expect and the actual reality, students of planning, planners, and professional evaluators, often recoil from the chaos of reality, wondering why the organization is not doing what it is "supposed" to be doing. This course teaches students how to understand the rationality behind how organizations and their programs behave, and to be comfortable and analytical with a live organization.

Course Readings

The course readings are provided in the readings section. Students may want to buy paperback copies of the James Q. Wilson and Theda Skocpol books.


An average of two article- or chapter-length readings will be assigned each session, to be read before the session for which they are assigned. All readings are required except for those indicated as "recommended." The class is run as a seminar and students should be prepared to contribute to class discussions on the readings.

Three papers on the readings will be prepared during the semester, of up to eight double-spaced pages, based on questions related to the readings; the first is required in Ses #9, the second in Ses #17, and the third in Ses #25. No late papers will be accepted. More detailed instructions will be provided in class. Regular attendance of class is required. A final presentation will also be required, in Ses #26.

Grades will be based on participation in class, knowledge of the readings as reflected in class discussions, written assignments, the extent to which improvement over the course of the semester is apparent, and attendance.