Public Administration Core Competency Final Research Proposal

Length: 15 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Business - Management Type: Research Proposal Paper: #33397838 Related Topics: Public Personnel Administration, Max Weber, Administration, Bureaucracy
Excerpt from Research Proposal :

This is what is affectionately known as cutting through the red tape.

Politics and Administration

2. Whether or not administration should be separate from politics is one of the abiding controversies of our field. Describe Woodrow Wilson's and Frank Goodnow's positions (and why they argue what they do) on the matter. Then compare and contrast their ideas with those of Luther Gulick and Leonard White. How does Jane Addams conceive the issue of "separation" in rather different terms? Where do you stand on this issue?

The idea that public administration should be separate from politics has been around for years. This idea has been argued and debated between many theorists. Some believe that they should be separate. While others feel that it is impossible to separate them. What is right or wrong is up to each individual as well as society as a whole to determine.

Woodrow Wilson is often considered to be the father of public administration in the United States. He first recognized public administration in an 1887 article entitled "The Study of Administration." He 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 has been more influential to the science of public administration than most because of the following four concepts that he advocated in this article:

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 a very long lasting debate. The different perspectives regarding this dichotomy contribute to differentiating characteristics of the suggested generations of public administration (the Study of Administration, 2008). Which way this debate should be decided seems to change over the years as new people come into power and ideological theories come and go.

Frank Goodnow's classic work aimed to express the separation of government authority beyond the traditional executive, legislative and judicial harmony. Goodnow distinguished and explained the dichotomy between elected legislators who enact the will of the state (politics) versus the officials and entities that are responsible for the execution of that will (administration). Goodnow outlined the separation of political and administrative authority in a comparative analysis between the United States and a number of European countries. His analysis and suggestions are predicated upon the efficient and legitimate formulation and exercise of the will of the people and the source of administrative legitimacy (Goodnow, 2003).

His theory was based on the distinction between politics and policies, principles and operations. He showed how the United States went beyond a nation that was solely based on a government by gentlemen and then showed one based on the spoils system. He showed how it developed into a government that separated political officials from civil administrators. Goodnow contends that the civil service reformers persuasively argued that the separation of administration from politics, far from destroying the democratic links with the people, actually served to enhance democracy (Goodnow, 2003).

Goodnow felt that the relation of politics to administration was one of separation and subordination. He argues that while politics can never be completely apart from administration. The executing authority should be one of centralized administration in contrast to decentralized or local administration and it should also not be overly controllable by the expressing authority for fear of impartial administration (Goodnow, 2003).

To Goodnow political parties were seen as central to the architecture of a popular government and efficient administration. His reasoning was that the role of powerful yet responsible political parties are a necessary means of expressing and executing the will of...


Having powerful political parties ensured that the will of the people was the will of the legislature, and thus through the subordinate relationship would result in the effective administration of the people's will (Goodnow, 2003).

Goodnow's theory of a separation between politics and administration has spread through the practice of public administration for many years. The spoils system was abandoned long ago and the civil service system has taken the power of administration out of the hands of the legislature (Goodnow, 2003).

Luther Gulick often argued that principles such as specialization of labor and hierarchical leadership structures among others were needed to achieve optimal organizational performance. In a time where the prevalent theme was the separation of politics and administration, Gulick advocated that it was impossible to separate the two from each other (Luther Gulick, 2008).

Leonard White, who authored the Study of Public Administration (1948), set a standard in the public administration field for years to come. In his book he argued that the study of public administration needed to be related to the broad generalizations of political theory as it was concerned with such matters as justice, liberty, obedience, and the role of the state in human affairs. Although he agreed with Wilson and Goodnow in principle, he had desire to restore a degree of reliability, merit, and workability to modern democracy with the continued division of politics and administration (Denhardt, 2000)

White's awareness of contemporary public administration shaped his approach to history in a number of ways. This provided him with a highly unusual vantage point from which to consider the various challenges that public administrators confronted. Contrasting most academics, White empathized with civil servants and shared their confidence in the administrative apparatus as an instrument of reform. White hoped to show the public administrators he knew so well that they had a heritage they could be proud of. He also sought, above all, to demonstrate that a permanent, nonpartisan civil service system could promote the cause of democracy (Denhardt, 2000)

Jane Addams was unlike most theorists during her time felt that the separation that needed to be addressed had nothing to do with public administration and politics. She felt that it had to do with that of the separation of the social classes. The accomplishments that Jane Addams made were remarkable under any circumstances, but especially so given that her achievements occurred at a time when the separation of private and public spheres gave few women social leadership opportunities (Hamington, n.d.). Addams felt that too much emphasis was being placed on the separation of politics and administration that people were missing the true issue was the separation of the social classes that was contributing more to the overall problems that the nation faced that did administration and politics.

Woodrow Wilson felt that if the government was to run in an effective and efficient manner then there had to be a separation of politics and administration. Goodnow also felt that this separation needed to exist in order for there to be a balance between the legislators of the country and the executive branch. He felt that this was the only true way that the will of the people was guaranteed to be carried out. Luther Gulick, who may have agreed with Wilson and Goodnow in theory, truly believed that it was impossible to separate administration from politics. He believed that the two were too ingrained in each other to ever be separated. Leonard White agreed with the theories of Wilson and Goodnow, but added his own twist to them. He empathized how civil servants with their shared confidence in the administrative apparatus as an instrument of reform could be the most useful.

The overall foundation of public administration lies in the development, implementation and study of the different branches of government policy. It also includes the pursuit of the public good. This is done by enhancing civil society, ensuring a well-run, fair, and effective public service. I believe that the separation of administration and politics is a must. There has to be a system of checks and balances in place to ensure that the people as a whole are represented fairly and that the needs and goals of society as a whole are carried out effectively and efficiently.

There have been many generation of theorists who have debated this subject over the years. It began with Woodrow Wilson and is still going on today. With each new administration that takes power the idea of how things should work change. Even though changes are made here and there, the basic fundamentals of administration and politics being separated with a checks and balances system in place still hold true today. Things will undoubtedly change in the years to come, but the basic fundamental ideas will always hold strong because they are so strongly felt in the basic foundations of what this nation was built on.

Management Perspectives

3. Compare the managerial philosophies of Frederick Taylor, Mary Parker Follett, Chester Barnard,…

Sources Used in Documents:


Bureaucracy. (2002). Retrieved September 30, 2009, from Web site:

Bureaucracy. (2008). Retrieved September 30, 2009, form New World Encyclopedia Web site:
Web site:
Hamington, Maurice. (n.d.). Care Ethics in the City: Jane Addams' Social Morality. Retrieved September 30, 2009, from Web site: http://www.american-
Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2009). Mary Parker Follett. Retrieved September 30, 2009, from Web site:
September 30, 2009, Web site:
Web site:
History Web site:

Cite this Document:

"Public Administration Core Competency Final" (2009, September 30) Retrieved November 26, 2022, from

"Public Administration Core Competency Final" 30 September 2009. Web.26 November. 2022. <>

"Public Administration Core Competency Final", 30 September 2009, Accessed.26 November. 2022,

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