Book Review - Khademian - "Working with Culture"

Essay by AngelusTVSUniversity, Master'sB-, December 2006

download word file, 5 pages 4.8

Khademian's book, "Working With Culture", is similar to Selznick's Leadership in Administration, in that both focus on the less technical aspects of public administration (structure and hierarchy) and instead look at problems that arise "between the lines" so to speak - that of people within the organization, and more specific to her work; the idea of culture within an organization. While this is not something that has been unknown, in fact it has been brought up in almost all of the works we have read so far, what is specific to the work we previously read, by Selznick, and Khademian's is an understanding of culture as something that does exist, not by mere chance as Cook and Wilson took it, but as something that should be acknowledged, and if reform is to be made within public administrations, culture has to be taken into account and be thoroughly understood. As Khademian makes clear throughout Working With Culture, the culture of an organization can have a major affect on success and job performance.

What we have seen in all of the books thus far, is a focus on public administration as something that first and foremost needs to be understood, and secondly, within that understanding, progress can be made. The focus of Khademian's book is understanding culture and combining this effort to bring about a merit-based type of management for administration that allows for performance measurement. As she states: "As the endless efforts to restructure government and individual programs suggest, attention to structure and process alone might not be enough to enhance the quality and effectiveness of public programs" (Khademian, page 15). What is needed then, besides the banal views of structure and job performance, is people-based thought, and recognition of culture. What is being questioned in Khademian's work, and elements of...