Top 50 Concept Readings for Toronto MPP Courses

… an Atlas Core Curriculum resource

Click for Toronto MPP course site

A student compilation of 400 key public management concepts (top 50 in each of U of T’s 8 required first-year MPP courses)

This page will, when completed, provide links to Atlas pages for 8 x 50 = 400 concepts taught in the eight first-year courses in the Toronto MPP curriculum during the 2017-18 academic year.

Atlas research assistant, Alec Wreford, MPP 2019, was one of 16 students in an experimental section of the Spring 2018 Toronto PPG1007 where Atlas concept pages were assigned as required readings for which pre-class concept comprehension quizzes contributed the bulk of the participation mark (see Atlas presentation, Concept Comprehension Quizzes for First-year MPP Courses, 16 April 2018). This approach was generally well received by students and several suggested that they would have welcomed similar pre-class concepts and quizzes for other first-year courses.

After completing his first-year studies, and based on his class notes and conversations with colleagues, Alec Wreford identified the concepts for which he believes pre-class readings would have been most useful to him and his fellow students in learning the course material.

Table 1 below displays concepts in the four less quantitative courses (PPG1000, 1001, 1005, and 1007) while Table 2, lower on the page, displays concepts in the four more quantitative courses (PPG1002, 1003, 1004, and 1008). The concepts have been listed in approximately the order that they were introduced. The 50 concepts in each course are distributed approximately equally across the course weeks. For example, courses where the concepts were introduced in 10 classes show 5 concepts per class. Where a concept is addressed in more than one class or course, it is listed in the one where it first introduced. As discussed in Associating Concepts with Topics, Subjects, and Courses, each concept is associated with an Atlas topic and subject, as indicated on the concept page.

The next step is to create an Atlas page and a concept comprehension question (see Concept Comprehension Questions) for each of the concepts that do not yet have them (generally indicated by the absence of a link in the tables below).

Table 1: Fifty concepts from each of PPG1002, 1003, 1004, and 1007

Governance and Institutions

Week 1: Introduction – from Government to Governance






Week 2: The Constitution


Amending Formulas

Constitutional Conventions

Responsible Government

Ministerial Responsibility

Week 3: Parliament and Legislatures

Parliament vs. Congress

Westminster System

The Crown

Cabinet Decision-Making System

Agents of Parliament

Week 4: The Executive and Bureaucracy

Political Executive

Political Executive vs. Civil Service

Prime Minister

Privy Council Office

Department of Finance

Week 5: The Courts and the Charter

Canadian Courts of Law

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Minority Rights

Parliamentary Supremacy

Charter Dialogue between Courts and Legislatures

Week 7: Federalism I – Division of Powers


Distribution of Powers

Property Rights

Classical Federalism

Open Federalism

Week 8: Federalism II – Federal-Provincial Dynamics

Programs and Budgeting

Direct Spending

Transfers to Persons


Equalization Formula

Week 9: Indigenous Governance

Aboriginal Title

Treaty Rights

Nation-to-Nation Relationship

Inherent Right to Self-Government


Week 10: Cities in the Federation

Local Government

Local Government Functions

Provincial Controls over Local Government

Multilevel Governance in Cities

Urban Policy vs. Municipal Policy

Week 11: Governance beyond the State; From Government to Governance

Skogstad’s Four Competing Models of Authority

Rational Decision Making Model

New Public Management


Management Consulting


Week 1: Introduction

Policy Process

Public Policy

Policy Cycle

Lasswell’s Policy Sciences

Weber’s Theory of Bureaucracy

Week 2: Foundations of Public Policy

Rational Choice Theory

Elite Theory

Median Voter Theorem

Collective Action

Majoritarian Democracy

Week 3: Institutions and Macrostructures

Homo Economicus

Social Contract

Social Norms


Policy Feedback

Week 4: Ideas and Ideologies

Political Left

Political Right

Confirmation Bias

Issue Framing


Week 5: Agenda Setting

Agenda Setting and Media Bias

Convergence Theory

Political Business Cycle

Policy Window


Week 6: Policy Formulation

Expert Authority

Decline of Deference

Popular Authority

Participatory Goverance

Networked Governance

Week 7: Decision Making I

Maximizing Behaviour

Bounded Rationality


Behavioural Economics

Libertarian Paternalism

Week 8: Decision Making II

Satisficing Behaviour

Lindblom’s Incrementalism and Muddling Through

Focusing Event


Path Dependence

Week 9: Implementation

Typologies of Policy Instruments

Using Information-Based Policy Instruments

Using Expenditure-Based Policy Instruments

Using Taxation-Based Policy Instruments

Using Regulation-Based Policy Instruments

Week 10: Evaluation

Broken Windows Theory

Formative Evaluation

Judicial Evaluation Model


Dirty Hands


Week 1: What is Social Policy?

Social Policy

Social Change

Civil Society

Claims, Reason, and Evidence

Supply and Demand for Policy Analysis

Week 2: The Welfare State

Social Context

Welfare State

State Intervention

Targeted vs. Universal Programs


Week 3: Neoliberalism and Retrenchment



Public Choice Theory

Economic Rationalism

Solidarity vs. Individualism

Week 4: The Politics of Social Policy

Policy Crises, Policy Entrepreneurs, and Political Entrepreneurs

Personal vs. Social Responsibility

Welfare Dependency

Political (Party) Platform

Political Business Cycle

Week 5: Globalization and Social Policy


Davis-Moore Hypothesis

Social Contagion Hypothesis

Tolerance for Inequality

Social Spending

Week 7: Economic Inequality

Economic Inequality

Income Inequality

Structural Inequality

Gender Differences in Earnings (Gender Wage Gap)

Occupational Ghettoization

Week 8: Immigration and Multiculturalism

Distinctions Between Race, Ethnicity, Nationality, and Culture

Politics of Difference

Social Integration


Welfare Chauvinism

Week 9: Social Policy, Health, and Disability

Social Determinants of Health

Personal Circumstances and Redistribution Preferences

Affirmative Action

Implicit Bias and the Harvard Implicit Association Test

Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement Challenges in Social Policy

Week 10: Do Public Preferences Matter for Public Policy?

Pendulum Metaphor

Public Opinion

Morality Policy

Interest Group

Political Elites

Week 11: Political Advocacy and the Nonprofit Sector

Political Advocacy

Nonprofit Organization

Watchdog Organizations

Social Movement

Public Good


Week 1: Course Overview and Key Themes

Implementation vs. Policy Design


Pressman & Wildavsky’s Implementation Model

Allison’s Three Models of Government Action

Bardach’s Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving

Week 2: Strategic Management in the Public Sector


Kennedy School’s Value-Capacity-Support Model

Public Value Scorecard

Political Management

Operational Management

Week 3: Real Cases (Readings on Writing and Teamwork)

Writing a Briefing Note

Behn’s Craft of Memo Writing

Identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT)

Teamwork and Tribal Instincts

Creating a Team

Week 4: The Political and Fiscal Context – Gaining Legitimacy and Support, and Risk Management

Moore’s Legitimacy and Support Perspective

Government Program

Gaining Standing

Risk Assessment

Risk Mapping

Week 5: The Stakeholder Context – Interests and Perspectives on Change

Leonard’s Note on Public Sector Strategy-Building


Endowment Effect

Issue Framing

Consulting Stakeholders and Engaging Citizens

Week 6: Designing the Delivery Model and Improving Performance

Moore’s Operational Capacity Perspective

Bardach’s Things Governments Do

Management Improvement Methodologies – TQM, Six Sigma, and Lean

Change Management

OECD’s Observatory of Public Sector Innovation

Week 7: Performance Measurement, Accountability, and Good Governance

Performance Measurement

Performance Reporting

Attribution Problem


Good Governance

Week 8: Communicating Policy

The Crucial Role of Communication

Communications Plan

Public Opinion Research

Open Government


Week 9: Frank and Fearless Advice

Speaking Truth to Power

Constitutional Convention of a Politically Neutral Civil Service

Access to Information (Freedom of Information) Policies

Political Neutrality

Policy Profession – UK Civil Service Skills and Knowledge Framework 2013

Week 12: Review and Preparing for Internship


Briefing and Minimizing Surprises

Becoming Self-aware

Developing Resilience

Having Fun

Table 2: Fifty Concepts from each of PPG1002, 1003, 1005, and 1008

NOTE: Some of the concept pages for Quantitative Methods are to OnlineStatBook, Online Statistics Education – An Interactive Multimedia Course of Study, at


Week 1: Introduction – Why Economics?


Unintended Consequences

Pareto Efficiency

Market Equilibrium

Endogenous and Exogenous Variables

Week 2: Preferences and Utility

Indifference Curves

Perfect Substitutes

Perfect Compliments

Ordinal Utility

Marginal Rate of Substitution

Week 3: Choice and Demand

Budget Line

Assumption of Monotonic Preferences

Tax Revenue and Deadweight Loss

Normal, Inferior, and Luxury Goods

Engel Curve

Week 4: The Slutsky Equation

The Slutsky Equation


Illegal Markets

Real Income

Law of Demand

Week 5: Buying, Selling, and Consumer Surplus

Consumer Surplus

Labour Supply

Tradeoff Between Leisure and Wages


Compensating Differentials

Week 6: Market Demand and Technology

Demand Curve

Marginal Product of Labour

Production Function

Returns to Scale

Week 7: Profit Maximization


Maximizing Profit Under Competition

Total Revenue

Total Cost

Fixed Costs

Week 8: Cost Minimization, Cost Curves, and Firm Supply

Minimization of Total Industry Costs of Production

Perfect Competition

Marginal Cost

Average Cost

Producer Surplus

Week 9: Industry Supply and Equilibrium

Economic Rents

Entry, Exit, and Sunk Costs

Market Equilibrium


Burden of a Tax – Economic vs. Legal Incidence

Week 10: Exchange

Edgeworth-Bowley Box


Contract Curve

Welfare Economics

Price Discrimination






Section 1: Macroeconomic Data


Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Underground Economy

Inflation and Monetary Policy

Price Indexes

Section 2: Long Term Growth and Productivity

Long Run

Short Run

Production Function

Physical Capital and Diminishing Returns

Human Capital

Section 3: Macroeconomic Environment of Business

Real Interest Rates

World Interest Rates

Saving and Investment (Y=C+I+G+NX)

Supply and Demand for Loanable Funds

Government Surplus and Deficit

Section 4: Unemployment and the Natural Rate


Natural Rate of Unemployment

Augmented Philips Curve

Frictional vs. Structural Unemployment


Section 5: The Monetary System


Money Supply

Interest Rate

Exchange Rate

Credit Rationing

Money Multiplier

Open Market Operations

Quantitative Easing

Section 6: The Open Economy: Key Concepts and Measures

Current Account

Capital Account

Financial Account

Foreign Exchange Reserves

Net Exports

Trade Deficits and Surpluses

Section 7: Trade and Capital Flows

Market for Loanable Funds

Net Capital Outflow

Capital/Financial Participants vs. Import/Export Participants

Supply and Demand Effects of Tariffs

Trade and Comparative Advantage

Section 8: The Short Run – Aggregate Demand and Supply and the ‘Business Cycle’

Business Cycle

Aggregate Demand Shocks

Aggregate Supply Shocks

Sticky Wages

Fiscal Stabilization Policy

Monetary Stabilization Policy

Section 9: Monetary and Fiscal Policy in the Short Run


Inside Lags

Outside Lags

Automatic Stabilizers

Cyclical vs Structural Deficit


Week 1: Introduction, Overview, Probability, Random Variables

What Are Statistics?

Measures of Central Tendency

Measures of Variability


Descriptive Statistics


Week 2: Normal Distributions and Sampling

Normal Distribution

Areas Under Normal Distributions

Sampling Distribution Demonstration


Shapes of Distributions

Remarks on the Concept of “Probability”

Probability Basic Concepts

Conditional Probability Demonstration

Week 3: Confidence Intervals and Hypothesis Testing I

Confidence Intervals Introduction

Introduction to Estimation


Degrees of Freedom

Significance Testing and Confidence Intervals

Week 4: Hypothesis Testing II, Comparing Two Populations, and Introduction to Linear Regression

Introduction to Linear Regression

Sample Size and Bounds

Chi Square Distribution

Logic of Hypothesis Testing Introduction

Type I and Type II Errors


Weeks 5-7: Linear Regression, Multiple Regression

Calculated T vs. Critical T values

Comparing Two Populations


Causal Effect


Randomized Controlled Trial (RTC)

Validity (Internal and External)

Variables (Dependent, Independent, Control)

Regression Lines


Stata Tutorial

R-Squared/Measures of Fit

Weeks 8-9: Multiple Regression, Dummy Variables, Least Squared Assumptions, Omitted Variable Bias, Functional Form, Binary Dependent Variables, and Internal Validity Topics

Introduction to Multiple Regression

Dummy Variables

Tennessee’s Student Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR) Project

Least Squared Assumptions

Omitted Variable Bias

Population Regression Function

Continuous vs. Discrete Variables

Non-Linear Regression Formulas

Log Transformations

Weeks 10-11: Wrap Up

Threats to Internal Validity

Panel Data

Reverse Causation

Instrumental Variable


Week 1: Causal Models and Rigorous Evaluation

Correlation vs. Causation

Opportunity Cost

Unit, Treatment, Outcomes

Lord’s Paradox

Bottom Line vs. Top Line

Kaldor Hicks Thesis

Evaluation Neutrality

Week 2: Randomized Control Trials, Matching, and Regression

Hidden Variation

Causal Elements

Standard Error

Standard Deviation

Sampling Bias

Pilot Projects

Hawthorne Effect

Week 3: Instrumental Variables


Causal Channels

Weighted Averages

Simpson’s Paradox

Week 4: Regression Discontinuity and Interrupted Time Series

Always Takers, Never Takers, Defiers

Regression Discontinuity

Sharp and Fuzzy RD Estimates

Weeks 5-7: Difference in Difference, Meta-Analysis, and Review

Natural Experiments

Parallel Trends/Parallel Deviations


Survivorship Bias

Week 8: Evaluation Design in Theory and Practice: Logic Models, Theories of Change and Multiple Types of Evaluation

Theory of Change

Card’s Study on Minimum Wage

The Standard Model

Logic Models

Cost-Benefit Analysis in Evaluation

Cost-Effectiveness Analysis

Discount Rate

Net Present Value (NPV)

Week 9: Designing and Running Field Experiments

Contribution Analysis

Quantitative Field Experiments


Data Needs

Evaluation Instruments

Evaluation Methodology

Weeks 10-12: Qualitative and Quantitative Evaluations and Social Innovation

Policy Analysis and Policy Evaluation

Categories of Program Evaluation

Process Evaluation

Efficiency Evaluation

Impact Evaluation

Contrasting Purposes of Evaluation

Traffic Light Assessments

Proprietary Standards

Coding Qualitative Data

Mixed Methods and Triangulation

Evaluation Rigour

Longer lists of potential concept readings for first-year Toronto MPP courses can be found at Concept Cluster for Atlas Subjects Associated with PPG1000, 1001, 1005, 1007 and Concept Cluster for Atlas Subjects Associated with PPG1002, 1003, 1004, 1008.

Page created by: Alec Wreford and Ian Clark, last modified 29 December 2018.

Image: Photoshopped by Ian Clark from the image on the SPPG website,, accessed 15 May 2018. The links for the course names in Tables 1 and 2 are screen grabs taken on 15 May 2018 of the specific course links in the above site.