Key Concepts of Public Administration in the Penn State Controversy Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1531 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Leadership

¶ … Penn State / Joe Paterno controversy was the mythical atmosphere of the team and the fact that Paterno's personal agenda and weaknesses transcended the objective FO the team. He saw himself as a cult figure, structured the team around that, and this led to the team's collapse.

Former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexually assaulting eighty young boys, whilst long time head coach Joe Paterno seemingly had been long aware of Sandusky's actions.

Paknis, a former graduate assistant offensive line coach who worked under Paterno during the late 1980s, asseverated that Paterno clearly know about the actions:

Impossible, impossible. Joe knows everything, Joe knows everything -- everything that goes on at that campus, everything that goes on clearly in the football program," Paknis said. "It's like the [Bernie] Madoff thing. Not only did he cover it up, but there's no way that this wasn't apparent." (Huf Post.Sports)

A former Oklahoma coach opined that likely the entire staff knew as well.

The only way the issue can be moved towards resolution is by dismantling the team, firing of leaders with negative positions, who misuse their leadership skills and restructuring from new. There is more than one behavioral mode from leaders as Bolman and Deal show. Paterno possessed all of these leadership qualities to perfection. The only problem: he misused them.

Structural frame

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The structural frame asserts that an organization exists and ordinarily functions under several conditions. PSU was definitely an organization, and, on light of the PSU scandal, we can see how each of the conditions helped to sustain the problem. The fact, however, that rationality did not transcend all else led to structural deficiency with Patereno being fired and the organization having to be evaluated and modified. The conditions of the structural frame that supported PSU were:

Term Paper on Key Concepts of Public Administration in the Penn State Controversy Assignment

1. The organization is there to achieve an established goal and objective- the coaches demanded that their players and coaches prioritize football above all else. They had to, as Paknis put it, play 24/7. Their mission also led to their downfall in that their performance (the objective of winning yet another game) preceded all else.

2. The organization increases performance through specialization and delegation of labor - the coach team was stratified. Aspects of coordination and control ensure that the diverse efforts of the individuals and units mesh - there was absolute control at PSU. fights, behavior problems anything like that never reached the local paper. It was a controlled environment" (Huf Post.Sports).

3. Organizations work best when rationality transcends personal goals and agendas- there was no rationality in the PSU case: "At Penns State, the death of young souls took a back seat to Joe's pursuing his all time wins records, his and football team's image, and the university's reputation" (Paknis, 2011)

4. Structures must be designed to fit the organization's current circumstances (including its workforce, environment, goals and technology) - we see this occurring in a negative sense when Paterno deliberately concealed the matter to protect his leadership. Misleading metrics and poor institutional controls was representative of PSU. There were numerous hidden secretes and blind spots deliberately implemented and kept in place by Paterno to protect and promote his leadership position.

5. Problems arise and performance suffers when there is structural deficiency. This can be improved through reflection and restructuring.

Personal goals preceded rationality and therefore the team had to be reorganized with Paterno being fired on November 9, 2011. As the structural paradigm notes, the problem can only be improved through reflection and restructuring.

The political frame

There is more than one behavioral mode for leaders and the political framework is another one of Bolman and Deal's Four Framework structure. In the Political Framework, the leader is an advocate whose leadership style works towards coalition and building. He clarifies what he wants and how he can get it. He assesses the distribution of power and interest, builds linkages to other stakeholders; uses persuasion first and negation and coercion only if necessary.

A leader, as Wick and Sutcliffe observe, can be both good and bad. Paterno was the consummate leader in terms of his possessing superb leadership skills. In fact, each of Bolman and Deal's four-qualities framework applied perfectly to him. The problem was that he misused his leadership skills.

In terms of the political frame, Paterno certainly knew what he wanted and how he could get it. After one loss, Paknis reminisced how Paterno had said that he would.. He assessed the distribution of power and kept Sandusky in place for the benefit of the team.. There was a cohesive sense of togetherness in PSU with the boys showering together.

Symbolic frame

This is where the leader is surrounded by myth and seen almost as a prophet. When taken to rational ends, the symbol can serve a positive purpose of providing the organization with a motif on which to pin itself (as McDonald does or Coca-Cola). All prominent organizations and institutions (as well as prominent leaders such as the President -- or the Babe or Marilyn Monroe) have their myths and narratives that make them seem larger than life. Paterno had this too and it was this that prevented PSU from being scrutinized and prevented scandals from emerging. Paterno used his symbol to capture attention. He compared himself to God, writes Paknis (2011): "Overall, I saw Joe as a master spin doctor whose image shed a far greater shadow than his actual character,."

The issue is the myth that Paterno spun around the atmosphere and himself as Paknis (2011) wrote on his blog: "He was considered, and acted, like God and was beyond reproach in the locals' minds."

Organizational culture

All organizations have a set of expectations about what they want to achieve. PSU's expectations were definite. They had to retain their record of performance. The problem was that fixating on this led to erroneous and ugly actions being brushed underground and with faulty metrics put into place.

..Paterno's expectations were so obsessive and fixated that, after one loss, he abused Paknis' wife remarking that

Obsession to achieving one's goals can be both negative and positive. Focus is positive when there is clear and detailed comprehension of threats and when concentration is focused solely on directing all one's capabilities and resources to achieving that goal. PSU had that 'flow' and fixation with its goals. It demanded that the members play football 24/7. The problem was that exclusive fixation can also become problematic when it shifts everything else of importance out of its way, and this is what occurred with Paterno too where the scandals -- and he was aware of them -- were deliberately shifted away from his ken of attention due to the fact that they would likely topple his career as well as divert the team from retaining their winning streak and mythical reputation.

There are five aspects of mindfulness and PSU had them all. These are: (1) preoccupation with failure -- Paterno was extremely focused on each and every losing factor of the team's performance; (2) reluctance to simplify -- Paterno took nothing in their team's performance fro granted. Every move and tackle had to be perceived and reiterated countless times until it was perfect (3) sensitivity to opposition -- a loss was unbearable to Paterno and had to be plumbed for retaliation (4) commitment to resilience -- PSU had that in waves (5) deference to expertise -- the team was under the control and lock-headed obedience to Paterno. He was the expert whom all had to rely on. Under certain conditions, mindfulness can be a wonderful -- if not invaluable -- attribute. It helped PSU win time and again. Unfortunately, Paterno misused it and that was where the problem lay.

The new public service

PSU might have been protected had it followed… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Key Concepts of Public Administration in the Penn State Controversy.  (2011, November 27).  Retrieved September 22, 2020, from

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