Light’s Typology of Standard Core and Skills for Success

… back to Competencies or to Core Curriculum Project

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The New Public Service (1999)

In his book, The New Public Service (reference below, image on right), Paul Light compares the subject matter of the core curriculum taught in top-ranked American MPP and MPA programs with the competencies thought most important by graduates of the programs at various stages of their careers.

Light uses the term “topic” to refer to the subject matter typically provided by a full course. This means that a “topic” in Light’s typology is equivalent to a “subject” in Atlas terminology. Similarly, Light uses the term “skills for success” in roughly the same way that the Atlas uses the term “core competencies.”

Standard Core Curriculum

Light’s analysis of the core curricula produces a typology of 8 standard core curriculum topics. These topics, with the average number of courses required in the sample schools, are displayed in Table 1.

Table 1. Paul Light’s 8 Standard Core Curriculum Topics
(with average number of courses)
Micro-Economics/Policy Analysis
(1.6 courses) 

Quantitative Methods
(1.6 courses)

Organization Theory/Public Management
(1.0 courses)

Policy Process
(0.5 courses)

Leadership
(0.2 courses) 

Ethics
(0.4 courses)

Public Budgeting and Finance
(0.8 courses)

General Introduction
(.4 courses)

Skills for Success

Light’s skills for success are depicted in Table 2. The table also displays the percentage of the graduates who Light surveyed that ranked the skill as being very important to their job success.

Table 2. Paul Light’s 13 Skills for Success
(with percent of graduates who rated then very important for job success)
Maintaining ethical standards
(82 percent) 

Leading others
(72 percent)

Managing information and communication technology
(56 percent)

Influencing policy makers
(55 percent)

Managing innovation and change
(55 percent)

Doing policy analysis
(55 percent)

Managing conflict
(52 percent)

Budgeting and public finance
(51 percent) 

Managing a diverse workforce
(43 percent)

Analyzing and influencing public opinion
(37 percent)

Raising money and generating extra revenue
(30 percent)

Managing media relations
(29 percent)

Writing regulation and legislation
(28 percent)

Comparisons with Atlas Subjects and NASPAA Standards

We can now look at how well aligned the Atlas core subjects are with Light’s standard core curriculum topics.

Table 2 depicts the alignment of the 17 Atlas core subjects (where their course-weeks sum to the 120 course-weeks deemed in the Core Curriculum Project to constitute the MPP/MPA core curriculum) with Light’s standard core curriculum topics. Table 2 also aligns 5 NASPAA Standards, and Light’s 13 skills for success with these 8 standard core curriculum topics.

Table 2. Alignment of 17 Atlas Subjects, 5 NASPAA Standards,
and 13 Skills for Success with Light’s 8 Standard Core Curriculum Topics
Standard Core Curriculum Topic
Most Closely Aligned
Core Atlas Subject

(all 17 subjects, total of 120 weeks)

Most Closely Aligned
NASPAA Standard
Most Closely Aligned
Skill for Success
Micro-Economics/Policy Analysis
(1.6 courses)
Economic Analysis
(6 weeks)

 

Analytic Methods
(6 weeks)

Evaluation and Performance Measurement
(6 weeks)

3. To analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems and make decisions Doing policy analysis
Quantitative Methods
(1.6 courses)
Quantitative Methods
(12 weeks)
Analyzing and influencing public opinion
Organization Theory/Public Management

(1.0 courses)

Implementation and Delivery
(12 weeks)

 

Governance and Institutions
(12 weeks)

Human Resource Management
(3 weeks)

Information and Technology Management
(3 weeks)

1. To lead and manage in public governance

5. To communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry

Influencing policy makers

Managing innovation and change

Raising money and generating extra revenue

Managing a diverse workforce

Managing information and communication technology

Policy Process

(0.5 courses)

Policy Analysis and Process
(12 weeks)
2. To participate and contribute to the policy process Writing regulation and legislation
Leadership
(0.2 courses)
Leadership Skills
(9 weeks)

 

Communication Skills
(3 weeks)

Leading others

Managing conflict

Managing media relations

Ethics
(0.4 courses)
Ethics, Rights, and Accountability
(6 weeks)
4. To articulate and apply a public service perspective Maintaining ethical standards
Public Budgeting and Finance
(0.8 courses)
Public Financial Management
(6 weeks)
Budgeting and public finance
General Introduction
(.4 courses)
Socioeconomic and Political Context
(6 weeks)

 

Global Context
(3 weeks)

Macroeconomic Policy
(6 weeks)

Environment and Sustainability
(3 weeks)

References

Paul C. Light (1999), The New Pubic Service, The Brookings Institution, Washington DC, 188 pages, see Brookings web page at https://www.brookings.edu/book/the-new-public-service/, accessed 28 February 2020.

Page by: Ian Clark, last modified 28 February 2020.

Image: Brookings web page at https://www.brookings.edu/book/the-new-public-service/, accessed 28 February 2020.