Power of reframing, the structural frame 8 pages

power of reframing, the structural frame, and the symbolic frame can affect the way organizations are reacting to events. This is accomplished by comparing the events of the Occupy Wall Street protests and with those surrounding the Penn State sexual abuse scandal. Once this occurs, is when there will be an appreciation in how these concepts should be applied by public administrators.

Describe an organizational issue or problem relevant the field of public administration, specifically, the Occupy movement in SF and other states and also the current Penn State controversy concerning Coach Joe Paterno.

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Over the last several years, the issues of public administration and the effectiveness of the services that they are providing has been increasingly brought to the forefront. Part of the reason for this, is because many individuals feel as if the government has let them down. As, they are expected to serve in the interests of the general public and go after those people who engaged in actions that are against these basic provisions. Evidence of this can be seen with the fact that the federal government is providing direct assistance to 200 banks that were considered too big to fail. Yet, only 21% of the American public supported these actions. While at the same time, 67% were opposed to these kinds of plans. The reason why, is because they believe that many executives had engaged in actions that jeopardized their businesses and the economy during strong periods of economic growth. Once economic activity collapsed, is when they were exposed to the excessive speculation that they had made during these times to increase their overall bottom line. This is significant, because it shows how there is a divergence between the activities of the government and the views of the general public. (“Just 21% Favor GM Bailout Plan,” 2009) (“Bailout Statistics,” 2009)

As a result, anger has boiled over the point that many people have begun to speak out against these actions and the lack of accountability. The way that they are achieving these objectives is through the Occupy Wall Street protests. This is a movement that began in September, with the intention of highlighting the injustices that are occurring with these programs. Over the course of time, this sense of anger and frustration has spread to other cities across the country. To fully understand what is taking place requires looking at the Occupy Wall Street movement in San Francisco and other cities. (“About,” 2011)

At the same time, public administrators have been wrestling with the lingering sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University, which involved former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. According to the indictment, he stands accused of 40 different counts of child molestation. The after effects of this scandal has meant that Joe Paterno and several administers have been publically fired. Both situations are troubling because they are illustrating the organizational problems facing public administrators. To fully understand what is taking place requires examining how these events are impacting the way that they are interacting with the public. This will be accomplished through looking at: the power of reframing, the structural frame, and studying the symbolic frame. These different elements are important, because they are showing how the combination of them will help to identify what issues are contributing to these problems and how they can be resolved. (Medina, 2011)

Drawing principally upon the Bolman & Deal text, Denhard and Dendhart text (pages from both text will be provided), demonstrate your understanding of the following three concepts describing how each of the selected concepts helps to sustain this issue or problem and/or might help to resolve it.

To determine the viewpoints with both events we will examine the ideas of: Bolman and Deal (n.d.) in addition to Denhard and Dendhart (n.d.). They discuss specific principals that provide administrators with effective tools in understanding how to balance these ideas in achieving a host of objectives. Once we have examined them, is when we can begin determining how these principals can sustain the issue itself or address the underlying problem.

The Power of Reframing

Reframing is when you are using different techniques to change how an individual is looking at the issues they are facing. This is accomplished by taking key attributes and discussing the way that they can have an impact on the outcome along with mindset of individuals. To determine this there is an examination of certain aspects of reframing to include: addressing the myths / vision / values. This is a basic approach that can be used to understand how myths of select event can cloud the vision of an individual. Where, they will believe that they are taking the right actions and are in line with their legal obligations as well professional requirements. Over the course of time, this myth can start to become the truth inside an organization. This is because everyone will believe that the current atmosphere will translate into future success. The problem is that this can fool most people into having a false sense of security. This is the point that the organization will begin to lose values that are guiding everyone. As, this will eat way at: the vision of the group and what they are able to accomplish. These different elements are important, because they are showing how believing a myth can lead to changes in perceptions and behaviors inside an entity. (“The Power of Reframing,” n.d., pp. 3 -21)

When you apply this to the Occupy Wall Street movement, they are reframing the issue by showing how the myth of invincibility contributed to the financial crisis and subsequent bailout. This led to a lack of morals inside most brokerage firms, as executives were willing to do anything to achieve the organizational objectives. Over the course of time, this would lead to a transformation in the operation environment of these firms with greed and speculation dominating the thinking of most individuals. This contributed directly to the financial crisis, by creating a lack of values and professional standards inside the sector. The Occupy Wall Street movement is taking these different principals to show there is a lack of accountability with the current system. As a result, they are demanding that changes are made. This is creating a sense of civic duty and citizenship in demanding these changes. (Denhard and Dendhart, n.d.)

In the case of Penn State, the myth of invincibility surrounding the football program and their success created an atmosphere of arrogance. As, everyone believed that winning was the most important goal of the team. This is when there was a decline in values, by Paterno ignoring claims that one of his coaches was sexually abusing children. Over the course of time, this created a lack of vision inside the locker room with: everyone focused on the success of the team and Paterno. Instead of the fact, that Sandusky was abusing children inside the team’s facilities and no one was willing to do anything to stop it. This is troubling, because it shows the power of reframing made the underlying situation worse by allowing for Sandusky’s activities to continue with no questioning what was happening until 9 years later. (Medina, 2011)

As a result, both cases are illustrating how reframing can be used to change the way someone is looking at a particular situation. This is taking place through: using a myth to create a transformation about the underlying meaning of events and the long-term impact on an organization. In the case of Occupy Wall Street, this is having a positive effect by changing the overall scope of the debate about government bailouts. This helps to create sense of civic virtue and citizenship like what was discussed by Denhard and Denhard. (Denhard and Dendhart, n.d.)

However, the situation involving Penn State is having a negative impact on what is happening. This is because there was a sense of invincibility surrounding the football program and the legendary coach Joe Paterno. Over the course of time, this created a false sense of security about what was happening at the team’s facilities. Once this occurred, it meant that the programs would ignore key legal and moral issues. (Denhard and Dendhart, n.d.)

The Structural Frame

The structural frame is when you are looking at how the entire organization can be established. This is accomplished by implementing a number of provisions to refocus the firm on key core objectives to include: specialized leadership roles, formal relationships, the division of labor, policies / procedures and how the firm will deal with challenges that may not work in this structure. Once this occurs, is when you can see how the situation from a particular event could become worse or better (depending upon how these different elements are interacting). (“The Structural Frame.,” n.d., pp. 45 — 61)

In the case of the Occupy Wall Street movement, they are criticizing the political, economic and regulatory structure that allowed banks to become too big to fail. Where, executives were receiving billions of dollars in compensation packages and shareholders were left with nothing show for their investment in the firm. What the Occupy Wall Street movement is doing, is questioning the entire system itself.

A good example of this can be seen with the Occupy Wall Street Oakland chapter. What happened was the city had removed their camp near City Hall Plaza. This is in response to reports of: deaths, drug use and unsanitary conditions. At the same time, the resources of the police department were stressed to the point that they were unable to deal with possible issues affecting the safety of the community. This is when the police raided the encampment and dispersed the protestors from the area. In response to what was happening, the Oakland chapter decided to begin occupying foreclosed homes and privately owned vacant lots near City Hall Plaza. As, they are trying to illustrate how: the risky activities of bankers contributed to the financial crisis by staying in these locations. This is significant, because it is showing how the movement is using the structural frame to point out the problem and how something must be done to resolve the issue. (Harrison, 2011) (Collins, 2011)

As far as Penn State is concerned, the structural frame allowed the university to support and protect Sandusky’s activities through looking the other way. This emboldened him to engage in behavior that was even more brazen. A good example of this can be seen with fact that Joe Paterno knew about these allegations going back to 1999 when he allowed Sandusky to retire from coaching. This is based on reports that he had sexually abused an 11-year-old boy in Penn State’s locker room. Then, in 2002 when this was reported to him again, by a graduate student involving a 10-year-old boy in the shower. Paterno immediately informed Timothy M. Curley (the athletic director). At which point, Curley had a meeting with the eyewitness, Gary Shultz (Senior Vice President for Finance and Business) and Graham Spainer (the University President). Their response to these events was: to take Sandusky’s key to the locker room and tell his charity (the Second Mile) of his activities. This is significant, because the inability of the university to bring in the police is an obvious sign that the entire system supported Sandusky. The reason why is because they did not want to hurt Joe Paterno. This is when they would give Sandusky a slap on the wrist (making things worse). As a result, this is an illustration of how the structural framework can make an incident even more volatile (Medina, 2011)

The Symbolic Frame

The symbolic frame is when you are looking at events that are occurring and associating them with powerful symbols that will instill tremendous amounts of feelings. (“Organizational Symbols and Culture,” n.d, pp. 251 — 267) In the case of the Occupy Wall Street San Francisco chapter they have been engaging in instances of civil disobedience. Evidence of this can be seen with protestors pitching a tent in the Bank of America Center and demanding to speak with board members. This is significant, because the San Francisco protests are targeting one of the financial institutions that contributed to the financial crisis. As, this is showing how these protests are using B. Of A to: highlight the way administrators and board members must be held accountable for their actions. (“Occupy SF,” 2011)

At the same time, the pitching of tents in the lobby is a sign to these financial firms that protestors are not going anywhere until their issues are addressed. This helps resolve the problems contributing to the financial crisis through showing the anger of the public about what is happening. Once this occurs, is when government officials and regulators will begin limiting the activities banks are involved in. Over the course of time, this will create a change in the financial regulations and how they are enforced. As a result, the movement is pushing for possible changes that will protect the interests of the general public. (“Occupy SF,” 2011)

In the case of Penn State, Joe Paterno is a symbol of the establishment at the school. Where, his history with: the board and success on the football field made him a symbol of the school itself. To protect him, university administrators were handling the ongoing reports of sexual abuses by Sandusky gently. Once this occurred, it made the situation worse, as his behavior became even more brazen in the future. This is important, because it is illustrating how the symbolic frame created an environment that did not want to harm Joe Paterno and his legacy. (Medina, 2011)

Clearly, the Occupy Wall Street protests and the Penn State scandal are illustrating how there are different techniques that are used to influence the ideas of stakeholders in a variety of situations. These include: the power of reframing, the structural frame and the symbolic frame. In each of these situations, there was a change in perceptions about what taking place surrounding a host of incidents. In the case of the Occupy Wall Street movement in Oakland and San Francisco, there has been an emphasis on how financial firms are contributing the stagnant economy. This is accomplished through changing the way everyone is looking at what is happening (the power of reframing), criticizing the structure of these firms (the structural frame) and illustrating how their status is impacting how they are treated (the symbolic frame).

While the situation with Penn State, is highlighting how these factors contributed to making a bad incident worse. This is because they created an atmosphere where everyone was looking the other way (i.e. The power of reframing). At the same time, the institution itself supported these activities (i.e. The structural frame). What prevented them from taking further action is because they did not want to hurt Joe Paterno and his image. This is troubling, because it allowed Sandusky to sexually abuse one child after another. Over the course of time, this made the situation worse by protecting him when it was clear that he was breaking the law.

These different elements are important, because they are showing how public administrators must maintain a balance when someone is attempting to change the arguments surrounding specific events. In some cases, this can mean that this will help to invite a long-term change. While at the same time, it could also make a situation worse, as this creates an environment that will protect illegal and immoral activities. For public administrators, they must be watchful of how these designations are applied.


About. (2011). Occupy Wall Street. Retrieved from: http://occupywallst.org/about/

Bailout Statistics. (2009). Capt Karl. Retrieved from: http://captkarl.blogivists.com/2009/01/22/bank-bailout-statistics-the-score-board/

Just 21% Favor GM Bailout Plan. (2009). Rasmussen Reports. Retrieved from: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/auto_industry/may_2009/just_21_favor_gm_bailout_plan_67_oppose

Organizational Symbols and Culture. (n.d.).

The Power of Reframing. (n.d.)

The Structural Frame. (n.d.).

Collins, T. (2011). Occupy Wall Street Raided. Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/14/occupy-oakland-raided-police_n_1092649.html

Harrison, L. (2011). Occupy Protestors Squat. Reuters. Retrieved from: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/23/us-protests-oakland-squatters-idUSTRE7AM07020111123

Medina, B. (2011). How Penn State’s Abuse. Chronicle. Retrieved from: http://chronicle.com/article/How-Penn-States-Sex-Abuse/129767/

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