Nonfiction by Scott Lazenby


Reviews of The Human Side of Budgeting


“It might sound like an oxymoron to refer to a book about budgeting as engaging, but this one is. The Human Side of Budgeting is well written and provocative throughout. Lazenby’s argument is audacious enough to cause the optimistic reader to stay with it because it offers an alternative to a system that is a continuing source of frustration and for the doubter to remain engaged because it looks as if there just has to be a catch somewhere .”

Phillip Cooper, author of By Order of the President & Professor, Portland State University Hatfield School of Government

“This book makes an important contribution to a critical piece of the puzzle for those wanting to move from expenditure-based budgeting to revenue-based budgeting.”

Douglas Morgan, co-author of Local Public Budgeting

“In creating The Human Side Of Budgeting Scott Lazenby has provided us with a book that fits perfectly between tomes on the politics of public budgeting and the texts and handbooks on the mechanics of public budgeting. The fact that no one has filled this niche before is as astounding as it is disheartening.”

Jim Hough, City Manager Emeritus, Banks, Oregon

“I really, really like this!”

Phil Keisling, Director, Center for Public Service, Portland State University & former Oregon Secretary of State

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City Management: Theory and Practice

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”

–Yogi Berra.

This nonfiction doctoral dissertation was published in 2009. Here’s the abstract (warning–this is very dry; don’t use it to judge Lazenby’s fiction writing!):

Due to the retirement of the baby boom generation, many individuals, in a relatively short period of time, will need to be trained and educated to step into local government senior leadership positions. Ideally, the education and training of this new leadership cadre should be guided by a well known and proven body of theory that helps us understand the competencies the next generation of public service need to possess in order to be effective in their work. The purpose of this research is to assess whether such a body of work exists and, if so, whether it is successfully addresses the challenges faced by the next generation of senior public service leaders.

The study uses a deductive process to identify important local government management competencies that are not supported by available public administration theory. First, the critical competencies needed by city managers are identified using existing data, supplemented by new data resulting from a Delphi study and a panel of top practitioners and scholars in the field. Second, these competencies are compared to the content of curricula of Master of Public Administration programs with a concentration in local government. Finally, critical competencies are evaluated against available theory as found in the public administration academic literature.

This analysis identifies 118 individual competencies important to effective local government management. The majority of these competencies are similar to those that are important to business and federal agency managers. MPA programs with a concentration in local government provide good coverage of competencies associated with administration, legal/institutional systems, and technical/analytical skills. There is less coverage of competencies associated with ethics, interpersonal communications, human relations, leadership, group processes, and community-building. Academic journals address theory supporting some of the competencies that receive little coverage by professional degree programs, but a sample of 3,811 articles yielded only fifty-three addressing competencies directly relating to senior level management. These findings serve not only as a guideline for research and education, but ultimately to improved management of local governments.