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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: D. Patrick Lenihan, PhD (University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health)
Description: This is a primer on management of public health organizations, including health departments and other agencies that make up the public health system. It covers basic management practices and concepts and addresses leadership from a management perspective.
Purpose: The authors offer several goals for the book. The overall purpose is to demonstrate how management is integral to all public health programs. Given that most public health managers have little formal management training and often don't appreciate management as a separate discipline, the book goes a long way in making the case that good management is much more than common sense. Related goals are to expose readers to basic tools of public health management and to spark further interest in management theory and practice.
Audience: Principal audiences are new managers of public health organizations, staff who aspire to management positions, others, like board members, who might want to be informed about what public health managers do (or should do) and experienced managers, perhaps with little formal management training, who need to brush up on their skills. Chapters are written by authors who have both practice experience and scholarly expertise in the field.
Features: The book takes a topical approach to management, covering several key aspects of management including strategic planning, conflict resolution, team building, finance/budgeting, and informatics. The strategic planning chapter is particularly useful as it covers a potentially arcane topic in a very approachable manner. The authors correctly recognize the essential nature of management is cross-cutting and integrative, and not just a combination of individual technical skills, but the topical nature of a book written by several authors results in some fragmentation and the topics are not well connected. One major gap is the lack of attention to staffing, one of the core management functions. Likewise, leadership, while introduced, never gets well defined or developed.
Assessment: Because management is such an eclectic topic, it is difficult for any one book of reasonable length to do justice to the critical elements in a given discipline and it is easy to get mired in technical detail or treat management from a narrow perspective. This book does a credible job of presenting key management concepts and practices to its intended audience and of stimulating them to pursue the additional details or a particular perspective through further study.