Case and Materials

Nobody’s Core Business: Confronting Cross-Cutting Problems in the Public Sector

  • Authors Gaylen Moore, Mark Moore, Jorrit de Jong

Last Updated

Collaboration, Strategic Leadership and Management

United States


Libraries are a prime example of how public service facilities often adapt beyond their original mission. But how far should an institution stretch? Explore how one city librarian navigates issues that were once outside the scope of her mission.


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This case explores tensions between working to achieve a prescribed mission and adapting missions and organizational capacities to changing social, political, and practical realities.

Learning Objectives

The aims of the case are to help students and city leaders:

Identify and evaluate opportunities for making social contributions (creating public value) outside of traditional understandings of organizational missions.

Identify conditions unique to public-sector managers’ environments, including complex lines of accountability, nuances of value, and the co-production of social outcomes.

Recognize possible avenues for collaboration across organizations and sectors to address social problems that cut across missions and organizational capacities.

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