Leonard Davis School

Leonard Davis School

Leonard Davis SchoolInstructor: Deborah Newquist, PhD, MSW, CMC

Andrus Gerontology Center Phone: 949-322-8310

University of Southern California Gero 229, Office Hours: by appointment





SPRING, 2011

GERO 550 is an introductory, graduate level course designed to give students a broad overview of theories, issues and approaches related to the administration of services and programs for elders. In addition, the course provides students with opportunities to analyze and practice a variety of management skills.

Effective management requires an array of skills including: self-knowledge and self-management, visionary thinking, strategic and tactical planning, communication, leadership, teambuilding, networking and system development. In aging, the successful manager must be able to oversee and organize the work of people with a variety of different backgrounds, skill levels and expertise, and also relate to key stakeholders outside the organization (e.g., the community, public officials and regulators, potential and current consumers, and funders and donors).

This course will utilize public and business administration concepts and theory pertinent to aging services. Basic assumptions are:

1.Management matters. All graduates of the school of gerontology are likely to work in an organization. They will benefit from learning about the administrative, service delivery and bureaucratic and network issues that will confront them.

2.The age wave is coming. Demographics will result in increased need for organizations that deliver services to older persons and other vulnerable populations. Consequently, professionals who are knowledgeable about aging and possess strong administrative skills are in demand.

3.Think “both/and”. This is a theory-based skills class. Most management issues are not simply black or white; they include components of each. Successful managers must tolerate ambiguity and embody conflicting and often paradoxical characteristics.

4.Just do it. Managers operate with imperfect information. It is important to be able to analyze and implement. Successful implementation includes understanding what we know and what we don’t know, how we know it, and most importantly, how to translate what we know into effective programs and organizations.

5. Management requires leading others toward a shared goal. Managers do not need to be able to do it all themselves, but instead,they need to guide others and orchestrate the pieces coming together to meet goals.

The course is broken into four sections:

1)Complex Organizations and the Managerial Role—an overview of the theories, concepts and issues of administration and sets the stage for the material that follows.

2)Deciding What to Do—focuses on strategic thinking, goal-setting, decision-making, and planning,taking into consideration the older adult client group being served.

3)Getting Others to Act—includes managing staff, networking, marketing, and collaborating with other organizations.

4)Organizing Effective Systems—examines how systems development can be used to enhance the performance of the organization and better serve consumers.


To do well in the class, students are expected to have demonstrated the ability to:

1.Apply and adapt relevant organizational and management theories, concepts and principles to management issues in aging organizations.

2.Describe and analyze the role of administrator/manager and the skills required to be a competent professional administrator in gerontology.

3.Describe, analyze and use theories of organizational behavior and methods of working effectively with and through other people.

4.Analyze organizational goals, environment,and resources of organizations that serve older adults.

5.Demonstrate planning skills, including identify and analyze key sources of information, determine needs, develop and analyze alternative strategies, set goals and priorities, and strategically execute plans.

6.Identify and understand the agendas of various political actors inside and outside the organization and the rules of the game by which they play.

7.Demonstrate skills in decision-making through analysis and presentation of case studies.

8.Show how the various skill sets and concepts apply specifically to aging issues, and applytheclass content and reading to case studies and other scenarios related to organizations that serve older adults.


There are three required books for the course:

  1. Block, P. (1986). TheEmpowered Manager: Positive Political Skills at Work. Jossey-Bass.
  2. Giordano, J. A. & Rich, T. A. (2001). The Gerontologist as an Administrator. Westport,Connecticut: Auburn House.
  3. Pratt, J. R. (2010). Long-Term Care: Managing Across the Continuum (3rd edition). Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett

In addition, assigned reading includes these articles available on blackboard:

Alkema, G. E., Wilber, K. H. & Enguidanos, S. M. (2007) Community and Facility Based Care. In J. A. Blackburn and C.N. Dulmus (Ed.) Handbook of gerontology: Evidence-based approaches to theory, practice, and policy. (pp: 455-497). John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, NJ.

Bell, K. (2010) Jane Goodall, Life’s Work, HarvardBusiness Review, April, p. 124.

Coyne, K.P., Coyne, S.T. & Coyne, E.J. (2010) When you’ve got to cut costs now. Harvard Business Review, May, pp. 74-82.

Behn, R. D. (1988) Management by groping along, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, (4): 643-663.

Harvey, J. B. (1974). The Abilene paradox: The management of agreement. Organizational Dynamics.

Hitt, M.A., Black, J.S. & Porter, L. W. (2009). Management. Chapter 8. Pearson Education, Inc. Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ. Also selected sections pp. 40-45, 46, 48-50, 84-98.

Kovner, A.R. (2010). Case Study: What More Evidence Do You Need? Harvard Business Review, May, pp.123-127.

Infeld, D.L. & Kress, J.R (Eds.) (1995) Cases in Long-Term Care Management, Vol. II. AUPHA Press/Health Administration Press, Ann Arbor, MI, Case Studies 10, 20, & 23.

Mintzberg, H. (1973). The Nature of Managerial Work. Appendix C: A Study of the Work of Five Chief Executives. Harper & Row: NY.

Prahalad, C.K. (2010). The responsive manager. Harvard Business Review, January-February, p. 36.

Wiseman, L. & McKeown, G. (2010) Bringing out the best in your people. Harvard Business Review, May, pp. 117-121.


Students are expected to enter the class knowing how to communicate effectively in writing. There are no expectations for previous coursework or experience in administration. Do not use Wikipedia as a reference.

Your performance in several different areas will be used to determine your grade:

Class Participation (20 points max)20%

Problem Statement/Proposal (5 points max) 5%

Case Study Papers (20% each) (40 points max)40%

Final Paper (30 points max)30%

Presentation of Final Paper (5 points max) 5%

Total= 100 points, 100%

Note: Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me (or to TA) as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open early 8:30 a.m. 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-0776.

Academic Integrity(VERY IMPORTANT)

I will strictly adhere to the University Student Conduct Codes® established expectations of academic honesty. This means students’ work should be submitted with the respect for the intellectual property rights of others; the ideas and wordings of another writer must be acknowledged and appropriately used.

According to SCAMPUS University Governance sections 11.00 and 11.11, plagiarism is the unacknowledged and inappropriate use of others’ works. It includes:

  • "The submission of material authored by another person but represented as the student’s own work, whether the material is paraphrased or copied in verbatim or near verbatim form;"
  • "The submission of material subjected to editorial revision by another person that results in substantive changes in content or major alteration of writing style;" and
  • "Improper acknowledgement of sources in essays or papers."[1]

Plagiarism is serious student misconduct. If such behavior is found, the instructor has the responsibility to report to the Office of Student Conduct and may apply appropriate sanctions to students who violate principles of academic integrity.


Newquist No Gift Policy. As much as I appreciate student thoughtfulness and generosity, I am not willing to accept gifts from students—even small amounts of chocolate, however, tempting.

Specifics of Grading

Class Participation

Class participation consists of three areas: 1) actively participating in class or online in weekly discussions, 2) presenting a case study, 3) developing your own management toolkit. GERO 550 is a blended class meaning that some students will be in the classroom and some will be taking the class online. 1) Class discussion: All students are expected to actively participate in class discussions and exercises, either face-to-face in the classroom or online. Since there are no exams, class discussions are a means to hold you accountable for the readings. Each week, questions will be posed about key lessons from the readings. All online students are expected to contribute at least 1 substantive post in response to these questions each week. Simply agreeing with a classmate is not a substantive comment. Your grade for class participation will be assessed on your active participation each week and the quality of your participation (i.e. do you demonstrate a grasp of the reading assignments and are you able to articulate a position that is supported by the reading or offers a reasonable and rational argument to the readings). Debate and diversity of opinion are encouraged. 2) Case Studies: All students are expected to participate actively in the case studies presentations with your assigned teams. Teams will be comprised of groups of in-class students and groups of online students. Teams will not be blended. 3) Tool kits: You are also expected to contribute to the development of your own individualized toolkit over the semester. This consists of the key takeaway information from each of the sessions that you can use in the future. Each week you will place what you consider to be of most value in your toolkit.

Case Studies

The course includes three cases. You are expected to read all three carefully and be sufficiently knowledgeable about each to participate in the class discussion. You are required to write up case study memos on the cases; you will be graded on two. You may complete all three and use the two highest grades or you may simply turn in two assignments. Success in the assignment requires thorough reading of the case and applying material from the readings and class discussions to the analyses. It is expected that all students will participate in an in-depth discussion of the case and readings. To prepare for a case you will need to organize and analyze the facts, study the data in detail and develop a realistic course of action that can be supported by the case information. Your analysis should use logic, apply readings and class discussions, and offer practical solutions

You are expected to turn in all assignments on time. Case study analyses not turned in at the assigned time (which is the beginning of the class session on the date they are due) will not be accepted. It is possible that we may be dealing with case situations in which you have had some first-hand experience. Such experience can be very useful for the other students and we will want to take advantage of it. Please alert me ahead of time in such situations so that time can be allotted at the end for you to share your experiences.

Preparing to Present Your Case

Students will present one case with a group of classmates. You should work together as a team to prepare an innovative presentation and analysis. Although you are encouraged to share your thoughts, perceptions and analysis, the written assignment (see below) should be your own individual effort. Teams will be assigned by week 3. Online students will partner with online students and in-class students will partner with in-class students. Teams can determine what they think is a fair workload. Be innovative!

Case Study Memos

Each of these memos should be 6-7 double-spaced, typed pages. DO NOT PUT YOUR NAME ON THE CASE. USE YOUR USC STUDENT ID TO IDENTIFY YOURSELF. Using one inch margins and a font size no smaller than 12, the maximum page length is 7 plus a reference page. Students will be graded on write-ups for two of three assigned cases. Even if you do not prepare a paper, you are nevertheless required to read and analyze the materials and participate fully in the class discussion.

Final Paper Options

You have a choice of three options to satisfy your final paper requirement. Each option is detailed at the end of the syllabus. You must submit your proposal detaining which assignment you have chosen by February 22nd

1)Shadowing requires you to observe a manager of an organization relevant to aging for 16 hours. This assignment is a replication of Mintzberg’s work on “what managers do,” which we will discuss in class.

2)Organizational analysis provides a detailed study of an organization with which you are familiar. This option requires a great deal of information about the organization and is most appropriate for a work site or internship organization

3)Problem solving involves working with an organization to address a relevant issue that is of concern to management. This will require excellent planning and the motivation to begin your work very early in the semester. Examples from prior years include research on retention of certified nurse aides in skilled nursing and issues involved in implementing the Eden Alternative in a skilled nursing facility.

Before making your decision read over each option at the end of the syllabus and consider how it fits with your learning agenda, how practical it would be to complete it, and which is generally the most interesting to you. You must decide on one option and prepare a brief proposal to be turned in by February 22nd.

Final Paper Proposal

If you choose shadowing, I need to know the name of the person you have selected and if that person has agreed to be shadowed. I would also like the manager’s title and his or her organizational affiliation. Also, if you know it, include when (dates) that you will be doing your shadowing.

If you are doing an organizational analysis, I need to know the name of the organization, the nature of its business, whether you are doing the entire organization or a section of it (if the latter, indicate which section), and how you will gather the needed information (have you worked there or interned there? Will you supplement this information with interviews, etc.)?

The problemsolving assignment calls for the most detailed proposal. See below for a description. This assignment exposes students to problems that managers in aging organizations confront. The first part of the assignment requires an interview with a manager of an aging service. The organization may be public, profit or voluntary, but it must target older adults. Students are expected to arrange an interview with the manager by the end of January. The purpose of the interview is to identify a problem/issue that the manager would like some assistance with. Your role is to address the issue/problem in your final paper and present the paper to the manager. For example, you might meet with the administrator of the Happydale Home who tells you that she is having difficulty retaining certified nursing aids. (She may, in fact, identify more than one issue and then you can choose the one that is most compelling to you.) Your job is to research the problem, present state-of-the-art thinking on it, and write a paper that you present to the administrator.

Your problem statement proposal should be about 3 pages. In it, you should describe the problem/issue in as much detail as you can and address the following questions. What is the scope of the problem? How long has it been a problem? What impact has it had on the organization? What has been tried to address it? To what extent have these efforts affected the issue? What would be most useful to the administrator in terms of your efforts? How will the administrator evaluate your efforts? Does the administrator have any suggestions about where you should begin or what literature to search?




January 11Introduction:Review goals, objectives, expectations and assignments.

Major Focus:Your areas of interest, experience and background within organizations. Your goals.

Topics:Introduction and overview of management issues key to aging services.

Key Questions:What is your vision of aging services? Where do you fit in now and in the future? What do you want to be doing in ten years? What about your job keeps you up at night?

January 18Major Focus:The Nature of Complex Organizations.

Key Question:What are the major organizational models and the theories that help explain how aging organizations are designed, how they function, and how this affects their delivery of services?

Topics:Examines theories of management and organizational structure, function and roles. Guest administrator big kahuna (Steve Barlarm, Co-Founder and Chief Professional Officer of LivHOME) will discuss issues ofone type of service (function) provided across different organizational models.

Task:To apply administrative theory to the present status and needs of aging organizations.

Readings: Readings are to be completed by the date assigned

Block, Introduction

Giordano & Rich, Chapters 1 and 6

Alkema, Wilber & Enguidanos chapter

Hitt, et al, Chapter 4, pp. 84-98.

January 25Major Focus:The Nature of Administrative Work.

Key Question:What is the role of managers in aging services? What do managers do? How can they strategically spend their time?

Topics Covered:Characteristics of managers, work roles, organizational variations, and skills required. Guest lecture by distinguished professeressa (Dr. Kate Wilber).

Task:To understand how the environment influences decisions of managers and what skills are required of managers.

Readings:Giordano & Rich, Chapter 3

Block, Chapter 2

Pratt, Chapter 13