Replete with practical advice for anyone considering a career in federal, state, or local government, Caught between the Dog and the Fireplug, or How to Survive Public Service conveys what life is really like in a public service job. The book is written as a series of lively, entertaining letters of advice from a sympathetic uncle to a niece or nephew embarking on a government career.
Kenneth Ashworth draws on more than forty years of public sector experience to provide advice on the daily challenges that future public servants can expect to face: working with politicians, bureaucracy, and the press; dealing with unpleasant and difficult people; leading supervisors as well as subordinates; and maintaining high ethical standards. Ashworth relates anecdotes from his jobs in Texas, California, and Washington, D.C., that illustrate with humor and wit fundamental concepts of public administration.
Be prepared, says Ashworth, to encounter all sorts of unexpected situations, from the hostile to the bizarre, from the intimidating to the outrageous. He shows that in the confrontational world of public policymaking and program implementation, a successful career demands disciplined, informed thought, intellectual and personal growth, and broad reading. He demonstrates how, despite the inevitable inefficiencies of a democratic society, those working to shape policy in large organizations can nonetheless effect significant change-and even have fun along the way.
The book will interest students and teachers of public administration, public affairs, policy development, leadership, or higher education administration. Ashworth's advice will also appeal to anyone who has ever been caught in a tight spot while working in government service.
October: Working with politicians
November: Working with the press
December: Learning from your boss
January: Dealing with unpleasant and difficult people
February: More on unpleasant people
March: Subordinate leadership, getting help from above
April: Taking the initiative, or risk taking inside government
May: The kinds of pressures and influence used on you
September: Relations with a governing board
October: More on governing boards
November: Bona fide bureaucratic behavior
December: "Walking with kings"
January: Delegating, or working for your subordinates
February: Ethics and morality in public service
March: A few thoughts on leadership
April: A summing up
"A 'must' for anyone aspiring to a career in public service at any level, Caught Between the Dog And The Fireplug is highly readable yet filled with sensible observations and recommendations."—Wisconsin Bookwatch
"Quite often an academic assumes that a book of anecdotes provides 'war stories' but little insight. This book, however, richly combines real experience with solid advice that would benefit even the most experienced public administrator. Ashworth's book performs the rare feat of providing an amusing look at public service while maintaining the importance of service to the commonweal."—Public Administration Review
"Kenneth Ashworth's letters...are a wonderful, witty, and literate distillation of a distinguished career in public service."—Bill Hobby, former Lieutenant Governor of Texas and former Chancellor of the University of Houston System
"I would recommend this book to any student of public service. Kenneth Ashworth tells it like it is, using a rich collection of experience, anecdotes, and lessons in the real-life workings of our government."—Charles B. Reed, Chancellor, California State University
Kenneth Ashworth is adjunct professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin and visiting scholar at the George Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University. Among his many positions in public service, he served as Texas Commissioner of Higher Education.
224 pp., 6 x 9
224 pp., 6 x 9
Texts and Teaching/Politics, Policy, Administration series