One of the problems of teaching urban management at the MBA level has been the lack of case materials in any convenient form. Now John Russell has compiled 21 of the cases used in his second-year course, “Management of Urban Operations,” at the Harvard Business School. This book presents actual problems encountered by management personnel in the public sector. The cases are the core material for Mr. Russell's course, and they provide insight not only into managerial opportunities and constraints but also into the urban management process itself.
The introductory material examines the application of analytic techniques, such as cost/benefit and cost/effectiveness analysis, to urban issues and provides students with an opportunity to examine cases in which urban managers are trying to solve some of a city's problems (the city most frequently cited in New York). Following this introduction to the unique problems of management in the urban sector, the author introduces functional modules that demonstrate the kinds of issues with which urban management is concerned. Functions included range from “hard” to “soft” services, from sanitation to public assistance.
The design of case work gives the student an opportunity to act first as urban analyst, then as urban manager: to use objective analytic methods to develop programs for the consideration of the urban manager, and then to examine the problems managers face in actually trying to implement the proposed programs. The use of case studies here also provides a significant contribution to the literature on municipal and state governments since it documents the evolution of innovative management in urban government.
The final unit of the book considers the problems of integrating the delivery of urban services in an effective and practical way. This section focuses on the difficulties of implementing the concept of greater local control.