Emergence as Concern in Field of Public Administration
Social equity has always been an important aspect of public administration, though only recently is it receiving much attention in the press. Whereas in times of old social equity concerned itself primarily with issues of fairness and equality in the public workplace, today social equity is emerging as a field encompassing many different aspects of administration.
Among these include public education, policy development, hiring and promotional practices, public welfare and even transportation. In modern public administration, all of these issues are applied to the field in order to establish fairness, justice and equality for all. Social equity in the field of public administration has emerged as a response to consumer demands for equitable policy making and fairness in governance.
Public administration as a whole may be defined as the management of "matters which have principally to do with the society, polity and it subparts which are not essentially private, familial, and commercial or individualistitic" (Shafritz, 2000:3). The public administration of today concerns itself not only with management of these matters but also with supporting equitable and fair politicking for all public consumers, in all matters from policy making to governing.
There will always be social conditions that are difficult to overcome including homelessness, teen pregnancy, chronic addiction and poverty (Rice, 2003). These are among the many issues public sector managers and administrators are beginning to realize they have the power to change. Social equity can be applied to each of these areas to assure that public citizens have the best possible chances for success regardless of their situation.
Social equity within public administration relates to management of the public's affairs by handling personnel decisions and implementing decisions regarding socio-economic systems but also involves planning, modifying and development of goals related to public affairs (Shafritz, 2000).
Social equity is a phrase that embodies many meanings within the field of public administration. Whereas traditionally public administration is concerned with offering more and better services given the available resources and maintenance of the level of service provided consumer, the New Public Administration is concerned with whether or not the level of service being offered customers enhances social equity (Frederickson, 1986).
Thus public administration is more concerned with coordination of efficient and economical services that promote social equity.
Relationship to Administrative Due Process and other Constitutional Aspects of Public Administration Practice
Powerlessness and feelings of powerlessness "are fostered by assertions that public servants should be detached, scientific, value-neutral" (Christopher & Rutledge, 2001). Public administration however by nature is embedded in policies, practices, procedures and actions that should be geared toward efficiency and effectiveness, as well as fairness in "the allocation of services and resources to achieve social equity" (Christopher & Rutledge, 2001). Thus public administrators can not take on the attitude of detachment or value-neutral behaviors, but must instead work toward creating an environment that strongly supports the desires, needs and wishes of all individuals within society as a whole.
Rice (2003) suggests that social equity in public administration can be best achieved if administrators, managers and service delivery personnel have a precise and clear understanding and appreciation of diversity issues, and comprehend how exactly diversity is built into an organization's culture. Social equity according to Rice (2003) should be connected to diversity within any public organization, and may impact the organizations ability to delivery public service effectively.
Within American society in general public administration is faced with increasing multiculturalism that requires that social equity issues are addressed. Simply defined social equity in the field of public administration involves equal treatment of diverse employees and equality in organizational policies and procedures.
Public administrators are expected to work in a manner that upholds the values presented in the Constitution of the United States. This is necessary in order for equal treatment and administrative due process to occur. Public administration must be carried out and accomplished in a manner that promotes the liberty and justice of all citizens. There was even a time where administrators were asked to take an oath upon the constitution of the United States to assure they upheld the idealisms of the Constitution of the United States, further emphasizing the focus on due process within the system (Frederickson, 1986).
Today administrators are encouraged to look at their positions from an equal opportunity perspective, to embrace diversity and to provide services that not only meet the needs of consumers but do so in a manner that is well rounded, fair and equitable to all. These basic premises are the foundation upon which the Constitution was built on.
Recent Developments: Emphasis Business like Practices Embodied by New Public management
Recently in the field of public administration fresh ideas regarding equity are emerging. There are definitions of social equity that focus on equal access and opportunity where the level of service provided to all are equal, and there are other approaches that link the benefits of social equity programs to individuals and individual needs (Christopher & Rutledge, 2001). As mentioned this new focus emphasizes the Constitutional rights of all citizens. In addition to this new emphasis, public administrators are adopting efficient and business like practices that promote efficiency and coordination among departments.
Federal agencies are starting to think innovatively and develop business solutions in the field of public interest and social equity, by taking a business like approach which requires establishment of performance goals at a national level and works to create performance partnerships and strong networks among communities (Christopher & Rutledge, 2001). This may require the adoption of technological support in keeping with modern market trends and global networking idealisms.
Social equity has been associated of late with a movement geared toward what has been described as the "New Public Administration" with both an egalitarian and "redistributive thrust" (Shafritz, 2000:421). Administrators and other civil servants are assumed to make an effort to uphold the ideals of the Constitution as a condition of their employment, and encouraged to examine the fundamental values that shape American doctrine (Shafritz, 2000).
In the past activities of public administration seemed to be concerned with non-market approaches to social purposes; within modern public administration or the new public administration of today however administrators and managers are recognizing the need for public program to be developed by sharing some market characteristics (Shafritz, 2000).
Traditional or 'classic' public administration focused on top-level management objectives and staff services geared toward simply serving the public; in the New public administration, officials are emphasizing social equity as an objective and rationale for conducting business.
In classical administration officials were consider with offering better or more voluminous services; within the new public administration environment the emphasis is on change and social equity (Frederickson, 1986). The new approach involves a study of public administration and approach that is "interdisciplinary, applied, problem solving in character" and theoretically grounded (Frederickson, 1986:6).
Business-based practices are embodied into the field of public administration to address multi-culturalism and values. Equitable treatment of all people is the primary concern of modern administrative systems. Public administration has been seen as a vehicle for implementing the values of social classes or whole societies (Frederickson, 1986).
The new and emerging field of public administration is also working to adopt essential technologies that will facilitate more efficient business services and practices. Like any other organization or industry, the field of public administration has realized the need to adapt and maintain a dynamic approach to business in order to keep up with the changing face of consumerism. The adoption of new practices will also help facilitate more efficient delivery of services to the public (Rice, 2003).
The new administration attempts to organize, describe and make functional organizations that further the norms of society via cutting edge policies, ideas and positions.