In a number of ways, public organizations are different from privateorganizations. For example, a public
organization does not choose its mandate; itis given by one of the three branches of government. It can be an
executiveorder, a new law passed by a legislative body, or a court decision mandating achange in services, for
example. Public-sector organizations deal with issues andproblems ranging from war to outbreaks of disease
to toxins in our water supplyto delivering the mail. They face challenges that are rarely stable, whether
fromhuman or natural forces. However, you will find that most classical theorists andmany contemporary
organizational theorists look at organizations as genericstructures that can be managed with the same
approaches regardless of sector. In spite of the organizational similarities, the unique challenges facing the
publicsector cause scholars to carefully examine the differences between the two.
Upon successful completion of this discussion, you will be able to:
The “public” in public organizations has always been a conundrum in ournation’s discourse. Who is the “public”
in public education? Is it all students, orjust some, or should the private sector take over the educational
system so it canbe more “efficient and effective”? Who can and should vote? Should we draft thepublic into the
military or keep it voluntary? Are the exemplary approaches usedby successful corporations better models for
the public sector or not?