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Journal ArticleDOI

A Practical Note on Transferring Ideas and Methods from Consultancy Practice to the MPA Classroom: A Personal Account from a Danish Case Study.

01 Mar 2016-Teaching Public Administration (SAGE Publications)-Vol. 34, Iss: 1, pp 83-95

Abstract: At the lead author’s home institution – Copenhagen Business School (CBS) – the combination of theory and practice is seen as very important in teaching. Research-based teaching is the slogan. In this respect, CBS has the same ambition as other universities. But it seems as if CBS has an advantage at the master’s level, because students come with a lot of experience. The average age of the MPA students is generally over 40. Consequently, they are able to bring practice into the classroom and to confront it with theories and also the experiences of their fellow students. There are, however other ways of bringing practice and theory together. In this note, the author reviews a three-year consultancy/research project in a merging hospital department. The aim of the note is twofold. One is to detail the more exploratory methods used to develop the organization. The second is to evaluate whether these methods can be transferred to a potential MPA module at CBS. It is concluded that for some of the methods such ...

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A Practical Note on Transferring Ideas and Methods from
Consultancy Practice to the MPA Classroom
A Personal Account from a Danish Case Study
Ry Nielsen, Jens Carl; Quinn, Brid
Document Version
Accepted author manuscript
Published in:
Teaching Public Administration
DOI:
10.1177/0144739415615662
Publication date:
2016
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Citation for published version (APA):
Ry Nielsen, J. C., & Quinn, B. (2016). A Practical Note on Transferring Ideas and Methods from Consultancy
Practice to the MPA Classroom: A Personal Account from a Danish Case Study. Teaching Public Administration,
34(1), 83-95. https://doi.org/10.1177/0144739415615662
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Download date: 10. Aug. 2022

A Practical Note on Transferring Ideas and Methods from
Consultancy Practice to the MPA Classroom: A Personal
Account from a Danish Case Study
Jens Carl Ry Nielsen and Brid Quinn
Journal article (Post print version)
This article was originally published in
Teaching Public Administration
. First published
online 01 December 2015.
DOI: 10.1177/0144739415615662
Uploaded to Research@CBS: February 2016

1
October 2015
A Practical Note on Transferring Ideas and Methods from
Consultancy practice to the MPA clasroom: a personal account
from a Danish Case Study
J.C . Ry Nielsen, Copenhagen Business School and Brid Quinn, University of Limerick
Ideas come while you work, not while you wait for them
i
Abstract
At the lead author´s home institution - Copenhagen Business School (CBS) - the combination of
theory and practice is seen as very important in teaching. Research-based teaching is the slogan.
In this respect CBS has the same ambition as other universities. But it seems as if CBS has an
advantage at the master’s level, because students come with a lot of experience. The average age
of the MPA students is generally over 40. Consequently, they are able to bring practice into the
classroom and to confront it with theories and also the experiences of their fellow students. There
are, however other ways of bringing practice and theory together. In this note the author reviews
a 3 year consultancy/research project in a merging hospital department. The aim of the note is
twofold. One is to detail the more exploratory methods used to develop the organization. The
second is to evaluate whether these methods can be transferred to a potential MPA module at
CBS. It is concluded that for some of the methods suchas diary keeping and agenda setting,
transfer is easy. Other methods such as using a cross sectional group or manager role-analysis may
not transfer easily but could be applied in the home organizations of participants. The design of
the module and the non-traditional roles of the teachers are very important for successful
implementation.
Keywords research teaching Copenhagen Business School explorative methods master
programme transfer implementation
Part 1: Introduction
At the author´s home institution, Copenhagen Business School (CBS), the combination of theory
and practice in teaching is given high priority. As in other higher education institutions research-
based teaching is almost a mantra (www.cbs.dk). Combining theory and practice is easier at the

2
masters’ level because participants come with a lot of experience that can be utilized in class and
in assignments. For the MPA programme at CBS we created a motto that expresses the
importance of the theory-practice linkage. Our motto ‘from nearness to distance and back again’
recognises that
participants come with a lot of knowledge, problems and solutions from their daily life the
nearness dimension. The teachers and fellow participants provide the helicopter perspective with
theories, cases, discussions, and assignments the distance and objectivity dimensions. For CBS
graduates the MBA is not just an academic exercise. It enables participants to return to their
organisations and become change agents using the academic and experiential insights developed
during the MPA programme (see www.mpa.dk). The MPA approach used in CBS can thus be seen
to reflect the literature that deals with transfer from the classroom to the real world, see , for
example., Keller et al (2011). This reflective article has a different point of departure. It
investigates the possibility of transferring ideas and methods from an action research/consultancy
project in a hospital department into a module for the Master of Public Administration (MPA)
programme at CBS. The article describes a learning experience in the real world, i.e., a hospital
setting, and looks at transferring ideas from there to the classroom.
Clarification of content
The article has deliberately been labelled ‘A Practical Note’. ‘Practical’ because the article is very
specific and does not focus much on theory, in contrast with, for example, the articles by Quinn
and Oldfield in this volume. It has a narrow focus on the pedagogical content of the specific case
which means that other perspectives such as process consultation, merger theory or team-
building are not dealt with By using the word “note” the intention has been to emphasise the
academic non- pretentious character of the contribution. Rather, the ambition has been to
demonstrate in detail what can be drawn from pedagogical analysis of a real-life issue in order to
design a potential MPA module. Written by the consultant it is an insider perspective with much of
the data coming from memory and notes. Part two outlines the specific context of the case. It
first provides a description of the case organization a hospital department which is a merger of
three previously independent departments. Then the author’s relationship with the case
organization and the points of departure are outlined. The section ends with a short description of
the overall MPA programme and the specific module design based on the hospital case. In part
three the methods applied in the change project are detailed and the transfer possibilities
discussed before the ideas that can be applied in class are outlined. Part four reflects on the
process and content of the case abefore conclusions are drawn in part five draws conclusions

3
Part 2 Contexts
The case organization and the merger
ii
The case organization, which shall be referred to as the G-case, is the Diagnostic Department of a
large hospital in the Capital Region of Denmark The hospital has 2.500 employees, 350 beds and
250.000 outpatient treatments per year.The Diagnostic Department (DD) has 215 employees and
200.000 patient contacts per year. The DD is the result of a merger inDecember 2012. The merger
process consisted of bringing three previously independent departments together in one
organization, the DD The three departments were Radiology (90 employees), Clinical Physiology
and Nuclear Medicine (40), and Clinical Biochemistry (60). Finally there is a medical research group
of 25 employees.
Mergers are often used as money saving instruments but not in this case. The top management
group of the hospital declared at the outset that the main purpose of the merger was to make
patient-care more effective. The motivation was thus a professional one.
This clarification removed a lot of anxiety in the organization, thereby creating better conditions
for the merger processes and establishing cross sectional collaboration. The new organization was
rather unique in a Danish hospital context and the management structure of the DD was different,
too. The designated management group of the new entity consisted of three people: the chief
physician, the chief radiographer and the chief technologist. They were supported by three chief
physicians from the three new sections. Before long it was decided that the management group
should consist of all six, and they lightheartedly named themselves ‘the Sixpack The group quickly
realized that they had no experience of mergers and agreed to seek outside help. Consequently,
the chief physician ( a graduate of the MPA programme directed by the author) arranged for the
author to act as consultant for the merger process. The group took the task of leading and
managing the organization very seriously and committed to bi-weekly ‘consultant meetings’ to
discuss organisational developments.. In total 42 two-hour meetings were held. From the very
beginning, the group decided to go public with the merger processes and outcomes. They sought
to identify what went well, what went wrong, what was learnt and what others could learn.
Therefore,they also hired a young sociologist, (Line Nicolaisen) who in collaboration with Sixpack
and the author produced a report on the merger processes and life in the organization over the
last three years (Nicolaisen 2015)
The Sixpack were confident about selecting the author as external consultant for the merger
process because of his skill as a process-oriented teacher (as observed by the chief physician), his
consultancy experience and his reputation as an author on organizational change. The author
came to the process with an open mind in the Engelundian mode, ready to work with organization
as it evolved and to work with the ideas that emerged from the merger process. This openness
was coupled with a very broad repertoire of different theories and practical experience that could
be applied during the unprecedented merger process

Citations
More filters

Journal ArticleDOI
J. C. Ry Nielsen1Institutions (1)
01 May 2008
Abstract: Praksisrelation er en vigtig bestanddel af paedagogikken pa Copenhagen Business School (CBS). PA MPA uddannelsen er vi privilegerede i denne sammenhaeng, fordi vore deltagere med en gennemsnitsalder pa over 40 ar selv moder op med megen erfaring. Vores opgave som undervisere og designere af uddannelsen er at skabe rammerne for, at deltagernes erfaringer kan bringes i spil ud fra mottoet »fra naerhed til distance – og tilbage igen«. Forfatteren gengiver bade de mere overordnede overvejelser, man har gjort sig pa uddannelsen, og en raekke af de mere praktiske tiltag, der har vaeret sat i vaerk.

1 citations



References
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Journal Article

9,372 citations


"A Practical Note on Transferring Id..." refers methods in this paper

  • ...Another useful strategy was application of the Senge (1990) distinction between dialogue and discussion....

    [...]


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Originally published as Lindblom, C.E. (1959). "The science of "muddling" through," Public Administration Review, 19(2): 79-88. Reprinted with kind permission. For a critical analysis of this issue's Classic Paper "The Science of 'Muddling' Through" by Charles E. Lindblom, please refer to Ronald J. Scott, Jr.'s article "The Science of Muddling Through Revisited" on pages 5-18. SUPPOSE an administrator is given responsibility for formulating policy with respect to inflation. He might start by trying to list all related values in order of importance, e.g., full employment, reasonable business profit, protection of small savings, prevention of a stock market crash. Then all possible policy outcomes could be rated as more or less efficient in attaining a maximum of these values. This would of course require a prodigious inquiry into values held by members of society and an equally prodigious set of calculations on how much of each value is equal to how much of each other value. He could then proceed to outline all possible policy alternatives. In a third step, he would undertake systematic comparison of his multitude of alternatives to determine which attains the greatest amount of values. In comparing policies, he would take advantage of any theory available that generalized about classes of policies. In considering inflation, for example, he would compare all policies in the light of the theory of prices. Since no alternatives are beyond his investigation, he would consider strict central control and the abolition of all prices and markets on the one hand and elimination of all public controls with reliance completely on the free market on the other, both in the light of whatever theoretical generalizations he could find on such hypothetical economies. Finally, he would try to make the choice that would in fact maximize his values. An alternative line of attack would be to set as his principal objective, either explicitly or without conscious thought, the relatively simple goal of keeping prices level. This objective might be compromised or complicated by only a few other goals, such as full employment. He would in fact disregard most other social values as beyond his present interest, and he would for the moment not even attempt to rank the few values that he regarded as immediately relevant. Were he pressed, he would quickly admit that he was ignoring many related values and many possible important consequences of his policies. As a second step, he would outline those relatively few policy alternatives that occurred to him. He would then compare them. In comparing his limited number of alternatives, most of them familiar from past controversies, he would not ordinarily find a body of theory precise enough to carry him through a comparison of their respective consequences. Instead he would rely heavily on the record of past experience with small policy steps to predict the consequences of similar steps extended into the future. Moreover, he would find that the policy alternatives combined objectives or values in different ways. For example, one policy might offer price level stability at the cost of some risk of unemployment; another might offer less price stability but also less risk of unemployment. Hence, the next step in his approach-the final selection- would combine into one the choice among values and the choice among instruments for reaching values. It would not, as in the first method of policymaking, approximate a more mechanical process of choosing the means that best satisfied goals that were previously clarified and ranked. Because practitioners of the second approach expect to achieve their goals only partially, they would expect to repeat endlessly the sequence just described, as conditions and aspirations changed and as accuracy of prediction improved. By Root or by Branch For complex problems, the first of these two approaches is of course impossible. …

6,314 citations


Book ChapterDOI
Abstract: Originally published as Lindblom, C.E. (1959). "The science of "muddling" through," Public Administration Review, 19(2): 79-88. Reprinted with kind permission. For a critical analysis of this issue's Classic Paper "The Science of 'Muddling' Through" by Charles E. Lindblom, please refer to Ronald J. Scott, Jr.'s article "The Science of Muddling Through Revisited" on pages 5-18. SUPPOSE an administrator is given responsibility for formulating policy with respect to inflation. He might start by trying to list all related values in order of importance, e.g., full employment, reasonable business profit, protection of small savings, prevention of a stock market crash. Then all possible policy outcomes could be rated as more or less efficient in attaining a maximum of these values. This would of course require a prodigious inquiry into values held by members of society and an equally prodigious set of calculations on how much of each value is equal to how much of each other value. He could then proceed to outline all possible policy alternatives. In a third step, he would undertake systematic comparison of his multitude of alternatives to determine which attains the greatest amount of values. In comparing policies, he would take advantage of any theory available that generalized about classes of policies. In considering inflation, for example, he would compare all policies in the light of the theory of prices. Since no alternatives are beyond his investigation, he would consider strict central control and the abolition of all prices and markets on the one hand and elimination of all public controls with reliance completely on the free market on the other, both in the light of whatever theoretical generalizations he could find on such hypothetical economies. Finally, he would try to make the choice that would in fact maximize his values. An alternative line of attack would be to set as his principal objective, either explicitly or without conscious thought, the relatively simple goal of keeping prices level. This objective might be compromised or complicated by only a few other goals, such as full employment. He would in fact disregard most other social values as beyond his present interest, and he would for the moment not even attempt to rank the few values that he regarded as immediately relevant. Were he pressed, he would quickly admit that he was ignoring many related values and many possible important consequences of his policies. As a second step, he would outline those relatively few policy alternatives that occurred to him. He would then compare them. In comparing his limited number of alternatives, most of them familiar from past controversies, he would not ordinarily find a body of theory precise enough to carry him through a comparison of their respective consequences. Instead he would rely heavily on the record of past experience with small policy steps to predict the consequences of similar steps extended into the future. Moreover, he would find that the policy alternatives combined objectives or values in different ways. For example, one policy might offer price level stability at the cost of some risk of unemployment; another might offer less price stability but also less risk of unemployment. Hence, the next step in his approach-the final selection- would combine into one the choice among values and the choice among instruments for reaching values. It would not, as in the first method of policymaking, approximate a more mechanical process of choosing the means that best satisfied goals that were previously clarified and ranked. Because practitioners of the second approach expect to achieve their goals only partially, they would expect to repeat endlessly the sequence just described, as conditions and aspirations changed and as accuracy of prediction improved. By Root or by Branch For complex problems, the first of these two approaches is of course impossible. …

3,330 citations


Book
Joseph E. McCann1Institutions (1)
01 Dec 1980
Abstract: The article reviews the book “Strategies for Change: Logical Incrementalism,” by James Brian Quinn.

1,835 citations


"A Practical Note on Transferring Id..." refers methods in this paper

  • ...As a result of the processes, the Sixpack developed a Lindblomian (1959) realization that change had to be incremental and not radical, but still with a purpose (Quinn, 1992)....

    [...]


Book
01 Jan 1980

146 citations


"A Practical Note on Transferring Id..." refers methods in this paper

  • ...Although the diary as a learning method has a long history dating back to Carlson (1951), the way in which journaling was used in this project was innovative....

    [...]


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