Public Administration and Considers the Effect of Term Paper

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public administration and considers the effect of their writings and theories on the field of public administration. It has 6 sources.

An analysis of the core areas of public administration and how these areas interrelate with one another; taking into account the theories and writings of major players in the field of public administration and how their views shaped these areas.

The principles of public administration are the clearest description of its usefulness to society and government. This administrative science is barely 100-125 years old in the U.S. And a little over 200 years old in France. Tracing its roots back to Napoleon, public administration evolved largely as a result of the increasing complexity of society, economy and technology. The French system of Public Administration is still considered by many to be the world's best. Compared to Germany and Britain, the U.S. was relatively slower to utilize public administration in widespread government. Early American politics were based on a small national government and state government, encompassing gradually growing city governments. The political machine operated according to the dictates of the patronage system and party loyalty, ethnically inclined and headed by a boss helped by ward chairmen and precinct captains. Initially, the middle class was fairly small, but by 1880, reformers emerged who tried to reduce the power of the bosses and create an environment conducive to efficient and honest government. These reformers tended to oppose the working class. The cities, however, were rapidly growing and the need for professionally skilled administrators was becoming all the more immediate. The public sectors of city government demanded individuals of high professional caliber. The national government was slower to adopt these reforms. Various bills and measures were passed and undertaken to expedite public administration; some with continuity, others without. The New York Civil Service Reform, later to grow into the National Civil Service Reform Association, was an example of these early inclinations towards public administration. Other examples were the appointment of Civil Service Commissions and the Pendleton Act of 1881. The process of public administration gained momentum through these actions and the campaign of the intellectuals and political think tanks in favour of public administration.(1)

We shall attempt to examine the influence that the writings and theories of prominent political and philosophical figures have had on public administration and how the vital areas of the field are interrelated to each other. It is important to note that a good many of these areas' interrelations are clearly evident and logical and as such require little exposition and analysis beyond the absolutely necessary. We shall present the accepted opinions of these statesmen and women in public administration and the extent of their influence on modern public administration. Historically, there have been a handful of people who might safely be called the chief exponents of Public Administration theory and who have had the farthest reaching effects on the field itself, either by their actions or by their philosophy. Our essay deals with Max Weber, Woodrow Wilson, Thomas Dye, Charles Lindblom and John Mikesell.

Max Weber (1864-1920) was a German sociologist and also the first analyst of bureaucracy. He considered the emergent bureaucracies in Germany of his day to be a welcome change to the corrupt machine they replaced. Their overall honesty and efficiency based on rationality caused him to formulate six principles, upon which he based his system of thought. These principles are: (1) Fixed and official jurisdictional areas which are ordered by rules, that is laws and administrative regulations. (2) Hierarchy and levels of graded authority where the lower offices are supervised by the higher ones. (3) Management is based on official documents (the files). (4) The officials have thorough and expert training. (5) It requires the full time work of the official. (6) Management follows rules. Max Weber attached 'vocational' importance to the post of the official in charge of the smooth running of the political machine. This post could only be entrusted to a person fully qualified academically and practically. The official's loyalty would lie solely to the system and not a person or vested interest. The public servant's climb up the political ladder would therefore be based entirely on his merits and not on clout. Weber's concept of a charismatic leader is also unique. Based on heaven sent charisma, the leader is naturally endowed with the capability to govern well and needs not rely on the rational skills of an average public administrator. A theological person, Weber's ideal of a charismatic leader was admittedly not realistic. He cited St. Paul as an example of such a leader. The first person to use the word 'bureaucracy', Weber also explored the term comprehensively and rationally. Ideal bureaucracy is even referred to as 'Weberian bureaucracy'. He overlooks the downsides of bureaucracy, however, omitting to mention the negative effect bureaucracy has on political structure: red tape, displacement of goals, modification of objectives and promoting vested interests. Weber's work The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism contains most of his philosophy regarding the charismatic leader and the bureaucratic ideal.(2)

The American president Woodrow Wilson was a major force in the establishment of the public administration system. He had much to offer politics in the field of public administration, a fact made clear by his references to its various aspects in speeches, debates and discussions. Wilson sough a clearer image of public administration than could be found in his time. He called the existing concept 'a foreign science....developed by French and German professors'. He studied the structure, movement and direction that his government and American politics were taking and concluded that it was all highly irregular and disproportionate. The deficiencies of national and state government were not countered enough by the improvements in city government. He was outspoken on 'manufacturing constitutions', saying "It is getting harder to run a constitution than to frame one." Wilson's logical remedy for these setbacks was to set up practically functioning machinery that could ensure the enhanced operation of any type of constitution framed. He recognized that compromise was a giant obstacle to public administration and that the role of the public could be not understated but simultaneously could not be overstated. The role played by ethnic minorities and poorly represented majorities was also a determining factor in public administration. "Public administration is detailed and systematic execution of public law. Every particular application of general law is an act of administration. The broad plans of governmental action are not administrative, the detailed execution of such plans is administrative." In matters of responsibility and authority, he developed and advocated a system of greater accountability. Wilson's method of discerning the essentials from the accidentals and separating them proved invaluable in maintaining the balance between organized administration and freedom of choice. The process of thorough examinations and practical ability was also explored, those in office needing to go about their activities completely removed from the "the common political life of the people, its chiefs as well as its rank and file." The main purpose of Wilson's initiative in public administration and bureaucracy was to clear the science of its semi-chaotic nature and to present it in an American light, minimizing the disproportion that had crept into it in its formative years. (3)

Charles Lindblom's philosophy is made profoundly clear by his famous quote "Do what I say not what I do." Lindblom's view is that the theory of public administration is far from the reality in which public administrators function and that because of this discrepancy, our approach to public policy making must change, basing itself more on reality than on ideals and themes touched upon by political figures in the past. 'The Science of Muddling Through', as he called it, discusses whether public administration is indeed ahead or behind the reality of the world it is in. Lindblom asserts that the political acumen most politicians are equipped with is largely inadequate to properly implement their policy. To counter this 'muddling through' effect, Lindblom developed what he calls the branch or successive limited comparisons method. The current method used by policy makers is ineffective, according to Lindblom. He calls this the 'root' method or tackling the problem from the ground up. In contrast, the branch method involves approaching a problem from every angle, in degrees and spreading it out over a broader reality. Taking into account both methods, Lindblom compares goal and objective development, place of means-ends analysis, the test of a "good" policy, the level of analysis, and the place theory plays in each method. He evaluates the effectiveness of each method used to address a problem and how realistic these methods would be given a set of acceptable social values. Once considered practical enough, the method would then be subject to every conceivable external situation out of which adverse consequences could arise. Lindblom's proposals attempted to create a working union of bureaucratic conformity, social acceptability and eco-political limitations. (4)

Thomas Dye, widely known for his work Understanding Public Policy, is a highly…

Sources Used in Document:

4)Harting, Tracey L. The Science of "Muddling Through" by Charles E. Lindblom 1998, Accessed on 31-3-2003 at

5) Book review. Understanding Public Policy. Prentice Hall. Accessed on 31-3-2003 at,4096,0130260088,00.html?type=FEA

6) Thomas Wadsworth, Book Review. Political Science. Fiscal Administration: Analysis and Applications for the Public Sector, Sixth Edition, Accessed on 31-3-2003 at

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