Financial Strategy for Public Managers
Sharon Kioko, University of Washington
Justin Marlowe, University of Washington
Copyright Year: 2016
Publisher: Rebus Community
Conditions of Use
The “strategy” focus in the title is narrower than the actual content of the book, which covers everything from public sector revenue sources to financial accounting and budget strategy across six chapters. From the opening sentence, the... read more
The “strategy” focus in the title is narrower than the actual content of the book, which covers everything from public sector revenue sources to financial accounting and budget strategy across six chapters. From the opening sentence, the intentional blurring of sectors is apparent. The broad definition of “public” reflects reality and the dependence of government on nonprofit and for-profit organizations to deliver services and support the public good. The text covers sources of public revenue, financial accounting (statements, analysis, and recording transactions), costs, and public budgeting. In the revenue chapter, the treatment of topics across the complete range of government types is refreshing (for example, including special districts and counties). The authors are very open about what they do not cover in the text. Although the authors suggest they “gloss over government budgeting systems and processes,” the budget content delivers the needed basics. While there is no index for the book, the table of contents is suitable when used in conjunction with the ability to search the digital text format. Practice problems and end-of chapter cases for each chapter are a welcome addition and can benefit instructors even if they choose not to exclusively use the textbook for a class. More citations to the primary sources that aided the writing of the textbook would help other instructors build out a comprehensive course and guide students to useful supplementary materials.
The content appears accurate and unbiased. The authors convey the technical material in a logical and detailed manner.
The authors achieve their goal of providing content in a fresh manner, but this may require periodic updates of cases and cultural references. The linkage between highly relevant cases and content is compelling, including for example the budgetary source of the much publicized police abuses in Ferguson, MO. The centerpiece case at the end of the book (The Cascadia Hearing School) should retain its relevance and usefulness well beyond the 2015 financial statements used in the case.
The text is clearly written, despite content requiring the introduction of many technical terms.
The text is internally consistent with, for example, the use of standard frameworks to guide the accounting content across multiple chapters.
Instructors can benefit from the modularity of the content, whether it is using specific chapters, cases, call-out boxes, or end-of-chapter questions alongside other resources. In the foreword, the authors highlight the chapters especially relevant to different course offerings.
The text presents within-chapter content in a logical, clear fashion. Starting with retrospective financial accounting and then moving to prospective budgeting is an unconventional order of content. As is beginning with financial statement overviews before introducing Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, but instructors can easily customize the order of content according to their personal preferences.
I only viewed the text as a PDF, but multiple formats are available. The quality of the financial statement screenshots is uneven across the text, but all are readable. Some creative figures (like revenues and spending of cities) are difficult to fully benefit from due to sizing.
Some minor typos and misspellings throughout the text, but nothing that undermines the credibility or accuracy of the content.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. In fact, the text does an admirable job of being inclusive in the presentation of content and cases.
Financial Strategy for Public Managers is a commendable contribution to the public and nonprofit management community. Given the resource constraints of public organizations and the challenges of affordable higher education, there is some irony that faculty do not more frequently use open education resources to teach public financial management. Whether used as a stand-alone text or with supplemental chapters and materials, those who teach courses in public budgeting and finance should become familiar with the text as a valuable teaching resource. The authors acknowledge the availability of “many fine textbooks on public financial management,” but they add value with this text by linking the excitement students have for public sector work to the necessary tools to be effective managers. Opening each chapter with content-specific questions typically asked by managers reflects the authors’ intent to connect technical skills to informing “actual management decisions.”
As the authors note, this textbook is suitable for an introduction class on financial management. To this effect, it is comprehensive. For longer courses or more in-depth classes, other resources would likely be needed. It would be nice if the... read more
As the authors note, this textbook is suitable for an introduction class on financial management. To this effect, it is comprehensive. For longer courses or more in-depth classes, other resources would likely be needed. It would be nice if the authors had linked to other resource that expand upon the material covered in the text. As it stands, there is very little direction for students who may be interested in learning more about the topics covered in the book, outside a few footnotes dispersed throughout the text.
I did not notice any major factual errors in the text.
The book does a great job of using relatively current events to motivate financial strategies and analysis. Some of these examples may become outdated such as the landslide in Washington described in Chapter 3. Others such as the example of Ferguson and its reliance on the police force and financing the government through fees will remain relevant and timely. Additionally, including examples from the private industry is useful to students who may be studying public management but may still be interesting the for-profit or private sectors.
The test is written in a readable style. Financial strategy can be dry but the authors do a great job of motivating the tools described and study of them by students. The figures and example financial statements are, as noted elsewhere, small and difficult to read on a small screen. In particular, the example balance sheets and other financial documents were blurry at times. Luckily the format is zoomable. Paper copies of this text may not be very useful though as a result.
The book uses two motivating examples, one non-profit and one governmental, throughout most of the text to illustrate key concepts. This consistency will be beneficial to students to see how these types of analysis can apply across both sectors and to one organization, thoroughly.
Each Chapter can stand on its own as a thorough introduction to each concept. Chapter 3 stands out as particularly useful outside of the context of the book as it has two stand-alone case studies that students can interact with. Other chapters with case studies would work well as single unit texts in public budgeting classes. These cases significantly expand the scope and usefulness of the text.
The topics in the text make sense in the order that they are presented in generally. The flow of the individual chapters also works well. Each begins with a case motivating the chapter, proceeds to the definitional issues and techniques in the chapter, and then provides more concrete examples.
Overall the book is generally well presented. As noted above, the figures are at times small and hard to read and would not work in print. The financial statements are also blurry in many spots, not to the point of not being readable but somewhat distracting. Additionally, some of the use of color in blocking text and in the figures could be a barrier to accessibility. It is a very low frills text in its interface, even compared to other OERs.
I noticed a grammatical error on Page 1 of the Introduction quoted here, “or used a shot of insulin from by Novo Nordisk”. This did not engender confidence in the quality of the text however I did not notice significant other mistakes similar to this one.
The text actually does a really good job of referring a variety of issues and individuals from various cultural backgrounds, such as including the budget of Ferguson in discussion or the use of different mission-driven organizations for the cases. I appreciate this because it isn’t something the authors have to do but they clearly have paid attention in constructing their examples.
This text exceeded my expectations. It generally rivals costly budgeting and financial management texts that were used in my coursework. I would definitely use it in an Intro class for an MPA or MPP program. I think it could even be used, with some modification, in an undergraduate course on Financial Management and Budgeting. I don't mind that it doesn't hold the reader's hand and think this might actually improve note-taking and comprehension when using the text, especially given how applied and interactive the topic is. I will probably use some of the cases and examples in my Intro to Public Administration course when discussing Financial Strategy and Management.
Each chapter is impressive and comprehensive. The authors do recognize that the textbook might not be used in itself entirety in any given course because they comment that Chapter 2 and 3 would be appropriate for courses on government accounting,... read more
Each chapter is impressive and comprehensive. The authors do recognize that the textbook might not be used in itself entirety in any given course because they comment that Chapter 2 and 3 would be appropriate for courses on government accounting, debt management, credit analysis, or non-profit financial management, whereas Chapters 4 and 5 work well for an applied course on public or non-profit budgeting. The textbook seems most appropriate for graduate students but Chapter 1 and Chapter 6 could definitely be incorporate into an undergraduate public financial administration course. There is no index or glossary.
I did not notice any inaccuracies; however, there is no reference list anywhere in the textbook (at the end of each chapter or at the end of the textbook).
The text is up-to-date but the data is a few years old but that's to be expected. The text is written in a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement because only Chapter 1 would probably need to be updated.
The text is loaded with accounting terms which are in bold but there needs to be an index. I was looking for an undergraduate public administration textbook but this textbook is more appropriate for undergraduate accounting majors who are interested in working in the public sector or public administration graduate students.
Each chapter is unique so it’s difficult to judge whether there is consistency from one chapter to the next. The one consistency from chapter to chapter is that the authors provide a table of learning objectives.
The text is clearly divided into chapters and sections within each chapter. The chapters are easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections. The authors, themselves, commented how each chapter might be appropriate for different learners. However, the Contents page simply states the title of each chapter and there is no Index or Glossary of Key Concepts. There is also no Suggested Websites at the end of each chapter which would be very helpful given some of the data presented.
For the most part, the topics are presented in a logical, clear fashion but there were times when the transit from one topic to the next did not seem immediately apparent.
There do not seem to be any interface issues. The Content page has hyperlinks to the beginning of each chapter. Some graphs were small but they could be enlarged.
The only grammatical errors were a few orphan headings (i.e. see page 40).
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way.
I was looking for an undergraduate public administration textbook but this textbook is more appropriate for undergraduate accounting majors who are interested in working in the public sector or public administration graduate students. That being said, Chapter 1 and Chapter 6 could definitely be incorporate into an undergraduate public financial administration course.
Table of Contents
- How We Pay for the Public Sector
- The Basic Financial Statements
- Financial Statement Analysis
- Transaction Analysis
- Cost Analysis
- Budget Strategy
About the Authors
About the Book
Financial Strategy for Public Managers is a new generation textbook for financial management in the public sector. It offers a thorough, applied, and concise introduction to the essential financial concepts and analytical tools that today's effective public servants need to know. It starts “at the beginning” and assumes no prior knowledge or experience in financial management. Throughout the text, Kioko and Marlowe emphasize how financial information can and should inform every aspect of public sector strategy, from routine procurement decisions to budget preparation to program design to major new policy initiatives. They draw upon dozens of real-world examples, cases, and applied problems to bring that relationship between information and strategy to life. Unlike other public financial management texts, the authors also integrate foundational principles across the government, non-profit, and “hybrid/for-benefit” sectors. Coverage includes basic principles of accounting and financial reporting, preparing and analyzing financial statements, cost analysis, and the process and politics of budget preparation. The text also includes several large case studies appropriate for class discussion and/or graded assignments.
About the Contributors
Sharon N. Kioko is Associate Professor at the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington.
Justin Marlowe is the Endowed Professor of Public Finance and Civic Engagement at the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington.