Consulting, Applied Research, and Co-Production Services

The Center for Public Service consults with public and not-for-profit organizations by conducting high-level research, organizational development, strategic planning, and more. We help clients advance their missions by making the resources and expertise of the Hatfield School of Government available on a customized basis. Our clients include regional governments, licensure boards, non-profits, and public agencies.

Areas of Expertise

Specific engagements are listed according to their primary attributes; however, in many cases, a given project contains multiple elements. 

Organizational Assessment and Development

Organizational assessment and development services provide our partners with analyses and recommendations for how to develop high-performance organizations and better achieve the organizational core mission and program objectives. Organizational assessment engagements often involve stakeholder interviews, best practices-focused research, and surveys. CPS also assists our partners in leader coaching, managing projects, and provide facilitating workshops. Recent examples include:

  • Diversity and cultural inclusion assessment (Clackamas County, City of Longview, Portland Police Bureau) 
  • Strategic functional analysis and operational review (State of Oregon Dept. of Education, Oregon Correction Enterprise, Oregon Liquor Control Commission).
  • Municipal government energy conservation and sustainability-based strategies for cost reduction (City of Albany, City of Independence, Yamhill County). 
  • Employee satisfaction survey (State of Oregon Dept. of Administrative Services) 
  • Diversity training needs assessment (Wagner College, NY)
  • Project and program management (City of Portland Innovation Fund ) 
  • Human resource management and coaching (City of Lake Oswego, City of Portland)

Program and Services Effectiveness Evaluation

These engagements help our partners determine the impact and effectiveness of specific programs and policy initiatives, using both quantitative and qualitative tools. Examples include:

  • Evaluation of Gateway Center for Domestic Violence 
  • Customer survey (State of Oregon Dept. of Administrative Services)
  • Evaluation of Clackamas County’s four-day work week pilot project (Clackamas County)
  • Evaluation of “Nurturing Cultural Competence in Nursing” program (Oregon Center for Nursing) 
  • Vehicle fleet usage assessment (Clackamas County)

Strategic Planning

Working closely with partners, these engagements typically provide our partners with plans with 3 to 5 year time horizon to help them identify key initiatives and specific goals and map out specific strategies to achieve them. Example of partners for this type of engagements are:

  • Clackamas County Dept. of Emergency Management
  • City of Medford Police Dept.
  • Regional Fire Training Division (Kirkland, Redmond & Woodinville Washington) 
  • Multnomah County Drainage Districts
  • US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Bonneville Power Administration

Citizen Participation and Community Engagement

CPS assists our clients in their effort to develop and implement effective strategies in promoting citizen participation and community engagement. Examples include:

  • Organizing “Multicultural Community Forum” (City of Beaverton)
  • Community needs assessment for inclusive outreach and diversity development (Tualatin Hills Park & Recreational District)
  • Community engagement for the Port of Portland’s Portland Harbor Clean-up Project 
  • Facilitating community engagement in Portland Public School District’s boundary review

Professional and Leadership Training 

CPS develops and implements custom-designed training programs that focus on enhancing professional and leadership skills. Most of the trainings are co-produced with our partners, incorporating their training needs and helping them develop their in-house training capacity. Examples include: 

  • Custom-designed Leadership Development training programs. Partners include:
    • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
    • Bonneville Power Administration
    • Clackamas County
    • Association of Oregon Counties
    • State of Oregon
    • U.S. State Department
  • Collaborative decision-making training for natural resource challenges
  • Collaborative governance workshops
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion training
  • Culturally mindful leadership training
  • Elected official leadership training and workshops
  • Emergency leadership and community resilience training
  • “Boot camps” for nonprofit directors
  • Executive Master of Public Administration degree program
  • Professional Certificate in Nonprofit Fundraising (in partnership with the Willamette Valley Development Officers)
  • Professional and leadership training program for international public administrators. Partners include: 
    • The Tokyo Foundation, Japan
    • Ho Chi Minh Academy, Vietnam
    • Seoul Metropolitan Government, South Korea
    • Lanzhou University, China
    • El Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey, Mexico, 
    • U.S. State Department

Policy Analysis and Research

Capitalizing on its affiliation to the University, CPS conducts policy analysis and research for our partners and the general public. Examples include:

  • Total employer cost of compensation study
  • Value-based comparison of public employee pension benefits in Oregon, Washington, Idaho.
  • Fire and emergency services operating costs and efficiencies assessment (City of Fairview, City of Troutdale, City of Wood Village)

Talent Development

  • Next Generation Initiative: placement of exceptional graduate and PhD students from PSU and more than 20 other nationally-ranked graduate programs across the U.S. with local public service sponsor organizations for 10 weeks (Oregon Fellows) or 32 (Hatfield Resident Fellows). 
  • Leader Coaching for Public Organizations

Board Governance Improvement

CPS works with governing boards to improve the performance of their various and often conflicting roles: representing the interests of citizens, deliberative policy-making, collegial decision-making, organizational oversight and community leadership. These services include strategic planning, policy analysis and research, board/organizational assessment and development, program and service effectiveness evaluation, citizen and community engagement, board leadership training. 

a yellow sticky note with a drawing of a light bulb tacked onto a bulletin board

The Co-Production Model

At its simplest level, our strategy involves joint planning and joint delivery of leadership programs with our organizational partners and with the students we teach. We call this process co-production.

Over the past 20 years of doing leadership development in a variety of organizations and countries and through a process of trial and error we have developed an approach that addresses current leadership challenges: developing capabilities to deal with “wicked problems”, filling the leadership vacuum, increasing the public performance of leaders and organizations and motivating public servants with leadership potential to prepare themselves for leadership positions.

Principle #1: Co-production and Co-delivery

The Center for Public Service (CPS) gives priority to clients who are prepared to participate as an equal partner in the design and delivery of our leadership development programs. This usually takes the form of having 1-2 senior leaders in the organization designated to work with our center faculty to design the curriculum as well as deliver it to participants.

Principle #2: “Active Learning Pedagogy”

Our Co-Production model not only includes the active participation of agency leaders in the design and delivery of the curriculum. It also includes the active participation of trainees throughout the duration of the program. What “active learning” means is that participants are asked at every stage of the program to apply what they are learning to their organizational work setting. This requirement is based on well-tested studies of what and how adults learn.

Principle #3: Multi-level Leadership Focus

It is important that leadership development be multi-level in its focus, giving appropriate attention to 1) individual leadership strengths/styles, 2) leading groups and teams, 3) leading organizations (i.e., managing budgeting, personnel, MIS and other systems) with a focus on “change management” and 4) leading in the larger community setting which shapes the environment of the organization. It is common knowledge that some leaders can easily inspire followers but cannot run organizations or facilitate group and team-oriented activities. Others are good at interacting in large community settings while others become nearly incapacitated when facing hostile groups, the media or any kind of larger public limelight. In short, it is important for participants to understand that leadership at all levels of the organization plays a critical, but slightly different role in promoting the public good, starting with street level leaders who deliver the service to those at the other end of the leadership spectrum who are responsible for the strategic direction of the organization.

Principle #4: Public Service Leadership Requires Balancing Competing Moral Values

Co-Production is not only an effective curricular design and delivery strategy for quickly teaching applied leadership principles to emergent leaders, it also models the real-life practicalities of public service leadership. One of the major differences between public and private sector leaders is that the former lead in an environment of murky, grey and often contested values. There is not a financial “bottom line” profit & loss target that serves as a common denominator for measuring success. For public officials, success is in the “eye of the beholder”—the party, the business community, the environmentalists, the religious/ethnic community, the press, the internet, leaders of other nations, etc. As the eyes of the beholders expand in number and increase in diversity, public sector officials have the problem of mediating competing values or competing interpretations of the values at the center of the political system. 

Given this  unique challenge faced by public sector leaders, CPS’s programs explicitly promote the view that public sector leadership carries with it unique moral obligations that are distinctive to a particular political/legal setting.

Principle #5: Adaptability over Time

It is important that leadership programs have the capacity to quickly adapt to the changing context of the organization. For example, if an organization suddenly finds itself facing a major challenge as a result of a natural catastrophe, a sudden economic reversal, an unexpected court mandate, or a political change in direction, the program needs to have the flexibility to incorporate these “surprises” into the design and delivery of the training. The Co-Production Leadership Model we have outlined facilitates this adaptability extremely well. Agency co-instructors can make suggested change in the design of the curriculum or last minute changes in each session to incorporate the latest “surprise of day” that may require organizational changes by the top leadership to accommodate the new contextual forces at play in the external environment. 

One technique we have found especially useful to accommodate this need for flexibility is a final “Capstone case” at the end of the program. This case is used both as an integrative group project to further hone the leadership principles learned in the program as well as an organizationally relevant problem-solving exercise that can add additional information to the decision-making process of senior managers. These cases are generated by the agency co-instructors who team-teach with our center faculty. 

the leader co-production model
This figure provides a pictorial representation of the Leadership Co-Production Model we have developed, with the specific content being shaped by the needs of our clients. It is still a “work in progress”, but through testing over time and in different cultural settings, we believe it captures some of the essential elements for successfully and quickly preparing the next generation of public service leaders to meet the daunting challenges of globalization and the expectations for ever-higher levels of performance.