"Fear Allah, and know that ye will surely be gathered before Him." --Al Qur'an
Public administration houses the implementation of government policy and an academic discipline that studies this implementation and that prepares civil servants for this work. As a "field of inquiry with a diverse scope" its "fundamental goal... is to advance management and policies so that government can function." Some of the various definitions which have been offered for the term are: "the management of public programs"; the "translation of politics into the reality that citizens see every day"; and "the study of government decision making, the analysis of the policies themselves, the various inputs that have produced them, and the inputs necessary to produce alternative policies."
Public administration is "centrally concerned with the organization of government policies and programmes as well as the behavior of officials (usually non-elected) formally responsible for their conduct" Many unelected public servants can be considered to be public administrators, including heads of city, county, regional, state and federal departments such as municipal budget directors, HRadministrators, city managers, Census managers, state [mental health]directors, and cabinet secretaries. Public administrators are public servants working in public departments and agencies, at all levels of government.
In the US, civil servants and academics such as Woodrow Wilson promoted American civil service reform in the 1880s, moving public administration intoacademia. However, "until the mid-20th century and the dissemination of the German sociologist Max Weber's theory of bureaucracy" there was not "much interest in a theory of public administration." The field is multidisciplinary in character; one of the various proposals for public administration's sub-fields sets out five pillars, including human resources, organizational theory, policy analysis and statistics, budgeting, and ethics.
One scholar claims that "public administration has no generally accepted definition", because the "scope of the subject is so great and so debatable that it is easier to explain than define". Public administration is a field of study (i.e., a discipline) and an occupation. There is much disagreement about whether the study of public administration can properly be called a discipline, largely because of the debate over whether public administration is a subfield of political scienceor a subfield of administrative science". Scholar Donald Kettl is among those who view public administration "as a subfield within political science".
The North American Industry Classification System definition of the Public Administration (NAICS 91) sector states that public administration "... comprises establishments primarily engaged in activities of a governmental nature, that is, the enactment and judicial interpretation of laws and their pursuant regulations, and the administration of programs based on them". This includes "Legislative activities, taxation, national defense, public order and safety, immigration services, foreign affairs and international assistance, and the administration of government programs are activities that are purely governmental in nature".
From the academic perspective, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in the United States defines the study of public administration as "A program that prepares individuals to serve as managers in the executive arm of local, state, and federal government and that focuses on the systematic study of executive organization and management. Includes instruction in the roles, development, and principles of public administration; the management of public policy; executive-legislative relations; public budgetary processes and financial management; administrative law; public personnel management; professional ethics; and research methods."
Antiquity to the 19th century
Dating back to Antiquity, Pharaohs, kings and emperors have required pages, treasurers, and tax collectors to administer the practical business of government. Prior to the 19th century, staffing of most public administrations was rife with nepotism, favoritism, and political patronage, which was often referred to as a "spoils system". Public administrators have been the "eyes and ears" of rulers until relatively recently. In medieval times, the abilities to read and write, add and subtract were as dominated by the educated elite as public employment. Consequently, the need for expert civil servants whose ability to read and write formed the basis for developing expertise in such necessary activities as legal record-keeping, paying and feeding armies and levying taxes. As the European Imperialist age progressed and the militarily powers extended their hold over other continents and people, the need for a sophisticated public administration grew.
The eighteenth-century noble, King Frederick William I of Prussia, created professorates in Cameralism in an effort to train a new class of public administrators. The universities of Frankfurt an der Oderand University of Halle were Prussian institutions emphasizing economic and social disciplines, with the goal of societal reform. Johann Heinrich Gottlob Justi was the most well-known professor of Cameralism. Thus, from a Western European perspective, Classic, Medieval, and Enlightenment-era scholars formed the foundation of the discipline that has come to be called public administration.
Lorenz von Stein, an 1855 German professor from Vienna, is considered the founder of the science of public administration in many parts of the world. In the time of Von Stein, public administration was considered a form of administrative law, but Von Stein believed this concept too restrictive. Von Stein taught that public administration relies on many prestablished disciplines such as sociology,political science, administrative law and public finance. He called public administration an integrating science, and stated that public administrators should be concerned with both theory and practice. He argued that public administration is a science because knowledge is generated and evaluated according to the scientific method.
Modern American public administration is an extension of democratic governance, justified by classic and liberal philosophers of the western world ranging from Aristotle to John Locke to Thomas Jefferson
In the United States of America, Woodrow Wilson is considered the father of public administration. He first formally recognized public administration in an 1887 article entitled "The Study of Administration." The future president wrote that "it is the object of administrative study to discover, first, what government can properly and successfully do, and, secondly, how it can do these proper things with the utmost possible efficiency and at the least possible cost either of money or of energy."Wilson was more influential to the science of public administration than Von Stein, primarily due to an article Wilson wrote in 1887 in which he advocated four concepts:
Separation of politics and administration
Comparative analysis of political and private organizations
Improving efficiency with business-like practices and attitudes toward daily operations
Improving the effectiveness of public service through management and by training civil servants, merit-based assessment
The separation of politics and administration has been the subject of lasting debate. The different perspectives regarding this dichotomy contribute to differentiating characteristics of the suggested generations of public administration.
By the 1920s, scholars of public administration had responded to Wilson's solicitation and thus textbooks in this field were introduced. A few distinguished scholars of that period were, Luther Gulick, Lyndall Urwick, Henri Fayol, Frederick Taylor, and others. Frederick Taylor (1856-1915), another prominent scholar in the field of administration and management also published a book entitled ‘The Principles of Scientific Management’ (1911). He believed that scientific analysis would lead to the discovery of the ‘one best way’ to do things and /or carrying out an operation. This, according to him could help save cost and time. Taylor’s technique was later introduced to private industrialists, and later into the various government organizations (Jeong, 2007).
Taylor's approach is often referred to as Taylor's Principles, and/or Taylorism. Taylor's scientific management consisted of main four principles (Frederick W. Taylor, 1911):
Replace rule-of-thumb work methods with methods based on a scientific study of the tasks.
Scientifically select, train, and develop each employee rather than passively leaving them to train themselves.
Provide ‘Detailed instruction and supervision of each worker in the performance of that worker's discrete task’ (Montgomery 1997: 250).
Divide work nearly equally between managers and workers, so that the managers apply scientific management principles to planning the work and the workers actually perform the tasks.
Taylor had very precise ideas about how to introduce his system (approach): ‘It is only through enforced standardization of methods, enforced adoption of the best implements and working conditions, and enforced cooperation that this faster work can be assured. And the duty of enforcing the adoption of standards and enforcing this cooperation rests with management alone.’
The American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) the leading professional group for public administration was founded in 1939. ASPA sponsors the journal Public Administration Review, which was founded in 1940.
US in the 1940s
The separation of politics and administration advocated by Wilson continues to play a significant role in public administration today. However, the dominance of this dichotomy was challenged by second generation scholars, beginning in the 1940s. Luther Gulick's fact-value dichotomy was a key contender for Wilson's proposed politics-administration dichotomy. In place of Wilson's first generation split, Gulick advocated a "seamless web of discretion and interaction".
Luther Gulick and Lyndall Urwick are two second-generation scholars. Gulick, Urwick, and the new generation of administrators built on the work of contemporary behavioral, administrative, and organizational scholars including Henri Fayol, Fredrick Winslow Taylor, Paul Appleby, Frank Goodnow, and Willam Willoughby. The new generation of organizational theories no longer relied upon logical assumptions and generalizations about human nature like classical and enlightened theorists.
Gulick developed a comprehensive, generic theory of organization that emphasized the scientific method, efficiency, professionalism, structural reform, and executive control. Gulick summarized the duties of administrators with an acronym; POSDCORB, which stands for planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting. Fayol developed a systematic, 14-point, treatment of private management. Second-generation theorists drew upon private management practices for administrative sciences. A single, generic management theory bleeding the borders between the private and the public sector was thought to be possible. With the general theory, the administrative theory could be focused on governmental organizations.
Post–World War II to the 1971s:
The mid-1940s theorists challenged Wilson and Gulick. The politics-administration dichotomy remained the center of criticism. In the 1960s and 1970s, government itself came under fire as ineffective, inefficient, and largely a wasted effort. The costly American intervention in Vietnam along with domestic scandals including the bugging of Democratic party headquarters (the 1974 Watergate scandal) are two examples of self-destructive government behavior that alienated citizens.
There was a call by citizens for efficient administration to replace ineffective, wasteful bureaucracy. Public administration would have to distance itself from politics to answer this call and remain effective. Elected officials supported these reforms. The Hoover Commission, chaired by University of Chicago professorLouis Brownlow, to examine reorganization of government. Brownlow subsequently founded the Public Administration Service (PAS) at the university, an organization which has provided consulting services to all levels of government until the 1970s.
Concurrently, after World War II, the whole concept of public administration expanded to include policy-making and analysis, thus the study of ‘administrative policy making and analysis’ was introduced and enhanced into the government decision-making bodies. Later on, the human factor became a predominant concern and emphasis in the study of Public Administration. This period witnessed the development and inclusion of other social sciences knowledge, predominantly, psychology, anthropology, and sociology, into the study of public administration (Jeong, 2007). Henceforth, the emergence of scholars such as, Fritz Morstein Marx with his book ‘The Elements of Public Administration’ (1946), Paul H. Appleby ‘Policy and Administration’ (1952), Frank Marini ‘Towards a New Public Administration’ (1971), and others that have contributed positively in these endeavors.
In the late 1980s, yet another generation of public administration theorists began to displace the last. The new theory, which came to be called New Public Management, was proposed by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler in their book Reinventing Government. The new model advocated the use of private sector-style models, organizational ideas and values to improve the efficiency and service-orientation of the public sector. During the Clinton Administration (1993–2001), Vice President Al Gore adopted and reformed federal agencies using NPM approaches. In the 1990s, new public management became prevalent throughout the bureaucracies of the US, the UK and, to a lesser extent, in Canada.
Some modern authors define NPM as a combination of splitting large bureaucracies into smaller, more fragmented agencies, encouraging competition between different public agencies, and encouraging competition between public agencies and private firms and using economic incentives lines (e.g., performance pay for senior executives or user-pay models). NPM treats individuals as "customers" or "clients" (in the private sector sense), rather than as citizens.
Some critics argue that the New Public Management concept of treating people as "customers" rather than "citizens" is an inappropriate borrowing from the private sector model, because businesses see customers are a means to an end (profit), rather than as the proprietors of government (the owners), opposed to merely the customers of a business (the patrons). In New Public Management, people are viewed as economic units not democratic participants. Nevertheless, the model is still widely accepted at all levels of government and in many OECD nations.
Late 1990s–2000 In the late 1990s, Janet and Robert Denhardt proposed a new public service model in response to the dominance of NPM. A successor to NPM is digital era governance, focusing on themes of reintegrating government responsibilities, needs-based holism (executing duties in cursive ways), and digitalization (exploiting the transformational capabilities of modern IT and digital storage).One example of this is openforum.com.au, an Australian non-for-profit eDemocracy project which invites politicians, senior public servants, academics, business people and other key stakeholders to engage in high-level policy debate.
Another new public service model is what has been called New Public Governance, an approach which includes a centralization of power; an increased number, role and influence of partisan-political staff; personal-politicization of appointments to the senior public service; and, the assumption that the public service is promiscuously partisan for the government of the day
Core branches: In academia, the field of public administration consists of a number of sub-fields. Scholars have proposed a number of different sets of sub-fields. One of the proposed models uses five "pillars":
Human resource management is an in-house structure that ensures that public service staffing is done in an unbiased, ethical and values-based manner. The basic functions of the HR system are employee benefits, employee health care, compensation, etc.
Organizational Theory in Public Administration is the study of the structure of governmental entities and the many particulars inculcated in them.
Ethics in public administration serves as a normative approach to decision making.
Policy analysis serves as an empirical approach to decision making.
Public budgeting is the activity within a government that seeks to allocate scarce resources among unlimited demands.
As an academic field: See also: Master of Public Administration and Doctor of Public Administration
In the United States, the academic field of public administration draws heavily on political science and administrative law. Some MPA programs include economics courses to give students a background in microeconomic issues (markets, rationing mechanisms, etc.) and macroeconomic issues (e.g., national debt). Scholars such as John A. Rohr write of a long history behind the constitutional legitimacy of government bureaucracy. In Europe (notably in Britain and Germany), the divergence of the field from other disciplines can be traced to the 1720s continental university curriculum. Formally, official academic distinctions were made in the 1910s and 1890s, respectively.
The goals of the field of public administration are related to the democratic values of improving equality, justice, security, efficiency, effectiveness of public services usually in a non-profit, non-taxable venue; business administration, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with taxable profit. For a field built on concepts (accountability, governance, decentralization, clientele), these concepts are often ill-defined and typologies often ignore certain aspects of these concepts (Dubois & Fattore 2009).
One minor tradition that the more specific term "public management" refers to ordinary, routine or typical management concerns, in the context of achieving public good. Others argue that "public management" refers to a newer, market-driven perspective on the operation of government. This latter view is often called "new public management" by its advocates. New Public Management represents a reform attempt, aimed at reemphasizing the professional nature of the field. This will replace the academic, moral or disciplinary emphasis. Some theorists advocate a bright line differentiation of the professional field from related academic disciplines like political science and sociology; it remains interdisciplinary in nature.
One public administration scholar, Donald Kettl, argues that "...public administration sits in a disciplinary backwater", because "...[f]or the last generation, scholars have sought to save or replace it with fields of study like implementation, public management, and formal bureaucratic theory". Kettl states that "public administration, as a subfield within political science...is struggling to define its role within the discipline". He notes two problems with public administration: it "has seemed methodologically to lag behind" and "the field’s theoretical work too often seems not to define it"-indeed, "some of the most interesting recent ideas in public administration have come from outside the field".
Public administration theory is the domain in which discussions of the meaning and purpose of government, the role of bureaucracy in supporting democratic governments, budgets, governance, and public affairs takes place. In recent years, public administration theory has periodically connoted a heavy orientation toward critical theory and postmodern philosophical notions of government, governance, and power. However, many public administration scholars support a classic definition of the term emphasizing constitutionality, public service, bureaucratic forms of organization, and hierarchical government.
Comparative public administration: Comparative public administration is defined as the study of administrative systems in a comparative fashion or the study of public administration in other countries. Another definition for "comparative public administration" is the "quest for patterns and regularities in administrative action and behavior". There have been several issues which have hampered the development of comparative public administration, including: the major differences between Western countries and developing countries; the lack of curriculum on this subfield in public administration programs; and the lack of success in developing theoretical models which can be scientifically tested.
Comparative public administration studies can compare different types of states at the same time, such as religious states vs. secular states or authoritarian states vs. democratic states. Even though public administration systems vary a great deal, there are some common elements which they all share which can be compared, such as the recruitment of bureaucrats and common programs which all governments have (e.g., a taxation regime) and common roles (e.g., rule-making).
The Knapp-Sanders Building, the home of the School of Government at the University of North Carolina.
As a field, public administration can be compared to business administration, and the master of public administration (MPA) viewed as similar to a master of business administration (MBA) for those wishing to pursue governmental or non-profit careers. An MPA often emphasizes substantially different ethical and sociological criteria that are traditionally secondary to that of profit for business administrators. The MPA is related to similar graduate level government studies including MA programs in public affairs, public policy, and political science. Differences often include program emphases on policy analysistechniques or other topical focuses such as the study of international affairs as opposed to focuses on constitutional issues such as separation of powers,administrative law, problems of governance and power, and participatory democracy.
Doctoral degrees: There are two types of doctoral degrees in public administration: the Doctor of Public Administration and the Ph.D. in Public Administration. The Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) is an applied-research doctoral degree in the field of public administration, focusing on practice. The DPA requires a dissertation and significant coursework beyond the Masters level. Upon successful completion of the doctoral requirements, the title of "Doctor" is awarded and the post-nominals of D.P.A. are often added. Some universities use the Ph.D. as their doctoral degree in public administration (e.g., Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada).
Notable scholars: Notable scholars of public administration have come from a range of fields. In the period before public administration existed as its own independent discipline, scholars contributing to the field came from economics, sociology, management, political science, administrative law, and, other related fields. More recently, scholars from public administration and public policy have contributed important studies and theories. For a longer list of academics and theorists, see the List of notable public administration scholars article.
International public administration:
There are several organizations that are active. The oldest is the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA). Based in Brussels, Belgium, IASIA is an association of organizations and individuals whose activities and interests focus on public administration and management. The activities of its members include education and training of administrators and managers. It is the only worldwide scholarly association in the field of public management. Also the International Committee of the US-based National Association of School of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) has developed a number of relationships around the world. They include sub regional and National forums like CLAD, INPAE and NISPAcee, APSA, ASPA.
The Center for Latin American Administration for Development (CLAD), based in Caracas, Venezuela, this regional network of schools of public administration set up by the governments in Latin America is the oldest in the region. The Institute is a founding member and played a central role in organizing the Inter-American Network of Public Administration Education (INPAE). Created in 2000, this regional network of schools is unique in that it is the only organization to be composed of institutions from North and Latin America and the Caribbean working in public administration and policy analysis. It has more than 49 members from top research schools in various countries throughout the hemisphere.
NISPAcee is a network of experts, scholars and practitioners who work in the field of public administration in Central and Eastern Europe, including the Russian Federation and the Caucasus and Central Asia. The US public administration and political science associations like NASPA, American Political Science Association (APSA) and American Society of Public Administration (ASPA). These organizations have helped to create the fundamental establishment of modern public administration.
Societies for public administration: