CAPSTONE EXAM INSTRUCTIONS

INCLUDE ALL MANDATORY HEADINGS IN YOUR ANALYSIS

Overall hints:
1. Really do include the mandatory headings! We have to take off points if you do not.
2. Start with Section III and IV, then come back to Section I. Just make sure you understand the central problem before you begin your work. Other students said they start by writing down all the terms they remember for Section II (doing a “memory dump”), then go to Section III, then IV, then go back and do I, II, and V.

MANDATORY HEADINGS SECTION INSTRUCTIONS
I. NARRATIVE SUMMARY OF THE CASE General Instructions for Section I:

Demonstrate an understanding of the case by writing a narrative analysis. Provide a thorough explanation of the essential elements of the case so that someone unfamiliar with its details can follow your analysis. Use specific referenced concepts, theories, theorists, scholars, models, processes, public laws, or court cases from MPA courses in your discussion.
A. Case Summary Write a narrative summary of the important elements of the case. Include a discussion of the goal(s), specific objective(s), or outcome(s) desired to be accomplished, achieved, or maintained.
B. Key Actors and Their Roles Identify and discuss the key actors and their motivating roles and agenda(s).
C. Central Problem(s) State clearly the central problem(s) or potential problem(s) in the case, external and internal to the organization.

HINTS on SECTION I:
1. Keep part A short. Two paragraphs or so should suffice. It should include the central problem, expand a little on the subissues, and give you just enough background to know what’s going on in the case.
2. Part B—Aim for around 6 – 7 stakeholders; group them together if need be. If fewer, that is fine. Keep it short—just name the stakeholder, their role, and what their stake is.
3. Part C—Keep it to one paragraph max. If you can summarize it in one sentence, that is fine.

II. IDENTIFICATION OF CASE PROBLEM(S) AND ISSUE(S) AND APPLICATION OF CORE COURSE KNOWLEDGE TO THE RELATED CASE PROBLEM(S) AND ISSUE(S) General Instructions for Section II:

You will specifically need to do following for each core course (1) identify the problem(s) or issue(s) from Section 1 that is the focus of the application (2) explain the concept you are applying to the problem(s) or issue(s) (assume the reader has limited background in the concepts you are discussing), and (3) explain how the concept can be applied to solve or lessen the impact of the problem(s) or issue(s). The emphasis in this section is applying the specific referenced concepts, theories, theorists, scholars, models, processes, public laws, or court cases from MPA core courses. A solid response will demonstrate understanding of the case by applying concepts from the MPA core courses. Begin the section with a brief summary of the central problem(s) from Section I.
A. PA 6601 – Research Methods Introduce at least one case problem or issue identified in Section 1. Identify and thoroughly discuss a minimum of two specific referenced course concepts, theories, theorists, scholars, models, processes, public laws, or court cases from the Research Methods course. Apply the material to the problem or issue identified.
B. PA 6602/6603/6631 – Quantitative Methods, Economics for Public Management, OR Program Evaluation Administration Introduce at least one case problem or issue identified in Section 1. Identify and thoroughly discuss a minimum of two specific referenced course concepts, theories, theorists, scholars, models, processes, public laws, or court cases from the Quantitative Methods, Economics, OR Ethics course. Apply the material to the problem or issue identified.
C. PA 6640/6644/6674 – Intergovernmental Relations, Administrative Law, OR Ethics in Public Administration Introduce at least one case problem or issue identified in Section 1. Identify and thoroughly discuss a minimum of two specific referenced course concepts, theories, theorists, scholars, models, processes, public laws, or court cases from the Intergovernmental Relations, Administrative Law, OR Ethics course. Apply the material to the problem or issue identified.
D. PA 6620 Organization Theory OR PA 6646 Organizational Behavior Introduce at least one case problem or issue identified in Section 1. Identify and thoroughly discuss a minimum of two specific referenced course concepts, theories, theorists, scholars, models, processes, public laws, or court cases from the Organization Theory OR Organizational Behavior course. Apply the material to the problem or issue identified.
E. PA 6622 – Public Policy Analysis Introduce at least one case problem or issue identified in Section 1. Identify and thoroughly discuss a minimum of two specific referenced course concepts, theories, theorists, scholars, models, processes, public laws, or court cases from the Public Policy Analysis course. Apply the material to the problem or issue identified.
F. PA 6624 – Public Personnel Management/Public Human Resource Management Introduce at least one case problem or issue identified in Section 1. Identify and thoroughly discuss a minimum of two specific referenced course concepts, theories, theorists, scholars, models, processes, public laws, or court cases from the Public Personnel course. Apply the material to the problem or issue identified.
G. PA 6650 – Governmental Budgeting Introduce at least one case problem or issue identified in Section 1. Identify and thoroughly discuss a minimum of two specific referenced course concepts, theories, theorists, scholars, models, processes, public laws, or court cases from the Governmental Budgeting course. Apply the material to the problem or issue identified.

HINTS ON SECTION II:
1. Know at least one term for every course that will work each and every itme.
2. Make sure you can do these without your notes.
3. Keep it short. One sentence for the definition, one to tie it to the case.
4. Correct citation: Incrementalism (Lindblom). No year or book title needed for a book or theory with an author. For ideas with no author and not from your book: Frou-Frou Market Failure (Waldner, Class Notes).
5 . If in doubt, include three theories instead of two for the sections you are weaker on (if you have time). You need a minimum of two correct ones to pass.

III. ALTERNATIVES FOR ACTION General Instructions for Section III:

Identify, develop, or create three alternatives for action that are available to you or that are available to the decision makers in the case to solve the central problem. If you are analyzing actions performed by others, are additional alternatives available to them? List at least three alternatives for action. The alternatives should address the key decision problem from Section 1. Compare and contrast them, discussing their relative strengths and weaknesses. Begin the section with a brief summary of the central problem from Section I and the issues from Section II.
A. Alternative 1 Identify and discuss your first alternative. Support your alternative with specific referenced course concepts, theories, theorists, scholars, models, processes, public laws, or court cases from MPA courses.
B. Alternative 2 Identify and discuss your second alternative. Support your alternative with specific referenced course concepts, theories, theorists, scholars, models, processes, public laws, or court cases from MPA courses.
C. Alternative 3 Identify and discuss your third alternative. Support your alternative with specific referenced course concepts, theories, theorists, scholars, models, processes, public laws, or court cases from MPA courses.

HINTS:
1. Always discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each alternative (under A, B, and C).
2. Keep it short. All you need is a short paragraph to describe the alternative, and another to identify key strengths/weaknesses.

IV. SELECTION OF RECOMMENDED ALTERNATIVE General Instructions for Section IV:
Begin this section with a summary of your central problem (from Section I), issues (from Section II), and alternative solutions (from Section III). In this section, you will choose one of your three alternative solutions for the central problem and recommend it for implementation. This is the appropriate place to list limitations, restrictions, constraints, rules, policies, guidelines or necessities, challenges, or opportunities to change or obtain waivers from these limitations.

In particular, selection of an alternative must be systematic and supported. A good way to organize your thinking about which alternative to select is to use a decision matrix. However, the decision matrix by itself is not the answer. It is only an organizing framework. Use of the decision matrix requires the student to identify decision criteria important to the facts of the case. The case suggests what these criteria are. The decision criteria used to evaluate alternatives should be defined. To fill in each cell of the matrix the student must insert judgmental or objective criteria.
A. Method Identify and discuss the method by which you will select your recommended alternative.

HINT:
1. Keep it to one sentence, and choose compare/contrast

B. Criteria Identify, justify, and discuss three criteria you or the designated decision maker will use in selecting the recommended alternative. Support your choice of criteria with specific references to the case and/or referenced course concepts, theories, theorists, scholars, models, processes, public laws, or court cases.

HINT:
1. Use the “magic three” (cost, effectiveness, and political feasibility) plus a fourth related to the case itself if warranted.
2. Clearly (and carefully) define your criteria.

C. Recommendation Use the method and criteria to identify the recommended alternative.

HINT:
Dr. Waldner’s hints:
c. i. . Matrix. Put your alternative titles right there in the matrix. Put the alternatives in columns and the criteria in the rows. Make it a 1 – 3 system with 1 as the best alternative and three as the worst for that criteria.
c. ii. Rows/columns analysis. ROWS: Do an assessment of each alternative (evaluating how each alternative performs on each criterion).
c. iii. Pairs comparison. Paragraph 1: compare/contrast alternatives 1 and 2. Then compare the winning alternative with alternative 3. Make sure it is clear which one wins and why.
c. iv. Recommendation (summary paragraph). Sum it all up in 1 sentence—which one are you recommending and why, exactly, based on your criteria?

V. IMPLEMENTATION OF RECOMMENDATED ALTERNATIVE General Instructions for Section V:
In this section, you will develop a complete implementation plan for your recommended alternative. Begin this section with a summary of your central problem (from Section I), issues (from Section II), alternative solutions (from Section III), and a clear statement of which alternative you are choosing to implement (Section IV). Discuss the recommended alternative in more detail. Consider such elements as what obstacles you might encounter in implementing this alternative; how you would overcome them; what reporting or feedback system you will use, if any; and how you might evaluate the success or failure, even the degree of success or failure, of your alternative. End with summary, observations, concluding remarks, if any. Support your discussion of the implementation, obstacles, solutions, and evaluation strategy with specific referenced course concepts, theories, theorists, scholars, models, processes, public laws, or court cases.
A. Implementation Plan Develop a detailed implementation plan to explain how you would propose to operationalize the selected alternative.

HINTS:
1. If you recommend funding, new laws, policies, etc., think through it from the start. How will it be passed? Who will bring it forward? How will it be carried out within the agency? Etc., etc.
B. Obstacles Speculate about potential obstacles to your implementation plan. Consider where resistance might come from either internally or externally to the organization. Suggest how each of the obstacles can be overcome.

HINTS:
1. Common obstacles: costs, politics, internal opposition, etc.
2. Don’t forget to include how to overcome the obstacles!
C. Evaluation Plan Develop a plan for assessing the success or failure of the implementation plan. In other words, how will you know if the problem has been solved?

HINTS:
1. Think back to how you defined effectiveness. How will you now measure that? Include specific measurement strategies (e.g. survey, experiment, audit, etc.)

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