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Evolution of Public Administration as a discipline and Woodrow Wilson's Essay

PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION EVOLUTION AS A DISCIPLINE,ROLE UNDER LIBERALISATION , PRIVATIZATION AND GLOBALIZATION AND RECENT TRENDS

Author :- TANYA FRANSZ - https://www.blogger.com/profile/05634266442875300394

Link to the blog :- http://publicadministrationtheone.blogspot.in/
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Source :- http://publicadministrationtheone.blogspot.in/2012/07/public-administrat...

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EVOLUTION OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AS A DISCIPLINE (FIELD OF STUDY):

It was born in 1887 as a discipline,not as an activity because as an activity as mentioned in my previous blog,public administration is as old as human existence itself. Woodrow Wilson's thought provoking and revolutionary paper 'The Study Of Administration' in the Political Science Quarterly brought it along and that's why he is considered the founder of this discipline.

Public Administration is a combination of both theory and practice. As a discipline it studies and analyses the machinery and procedure of government while formulating and implementing policies and that analysis/study gives birth to new ideas,which are then applied to the activity of govt to test the practicality as to whether it increases efficiency. Therefore they both are interdependent.

There are five stages in the chronology of the evolution of Public Administration as a discipline:


Stage 1: politics administration dichotomy(1887-1926)
Stage 2: principles of administration(1927-1937)
Stage 3: era of challenge(1938-1947)
Stage 4: crises of identity(1948-1970)
Stage 5: public policy perspective(1971 onwards)

The first stage was the manifestation of Woodrow Wilson's view of politics - administration dichotomy( difference between two things as they are completely opposite). This led to a spurt in the interest of its studies in various American as well as universities around the globe and reforms were made in government and thus scholars were attracted to public administration with a new vigour. Woodrow Wilson propogated this view since at that time people were fed up with the govt. and its various policies,rampant corruption and the spoils system that prevailed in the bureaucratic framework. This was the major reason for people to readily lap up his view. L.D. White published a book '' Introduction to the Study Of Public Administration'' in 1926 that further buttressed this view.

The second stage of administrative theory was marked by the same fervour of reinforcing the Wilsonian view of Public Administration of publi-administration dichotomy and evolve a value neutral or rather value free science of management. It was believed that there are certain principles ( guiding/basic ideas) of administration that are common to all organizations and will work for all bringing out optimum efficiency. This was the mature Industrial Revolution period and all that countries were concerned with was increasing production at any cost in order to earn big. Also Industrial revolution's rapid expansion of industries led to new problems in management that were uforeseen and therefore difficult to solve. That's when F.W. Taylor and Henri Fayol stepped in and generated their principles of administration/management. They were succesful administrators in their own right and therefore their views hel a lot of water and were readily accepted by the industies world over. Frederich Winslow Taylor and Henri Fayol advocated for adopting engineering based scientific methods in the field of industrial work process in order to increase efficiency and economy. These schools of thought are grouped under the Classical theory of administration.
Since,we are talking about the Classical theorists of Administration we have to make a very important mention of Max Weber. His conceptual framework of bureaucracy deserves special mention as it brought about a paradigm shift in the theory of public administration. He was the first to provide the discipline with a solid theoretical base. He viewed bureaucracy as a national rules based central system that regulated the organization's structure and process accordingly to technical knowledge and maximum efficiency. He was concerned about the evolution of modern civilization with bureaucracies. All the three theorists mentioned above laid emphasis on the physiological and mechanistic aspects of public administration and that is why this school of thought apart from being called the Clasiical school of thought is also known as the Mechanical theory of organization/administration.

The third stage in the evolution of the theory of public administration is known as the era of challenge because the above mentioned principles and iron cage/mechanistic view of administration and workers was challenged. The Human relations theory brought about a pragmatic view to administrative issues. It emphasisied on the human aspects of administration that sprung from the Hawthorne experiments conducted by Elton Mayo and his colleagues at Harvard Business School in the late 20's and early 30's of the twentieth century. The main focus of study in this approach was to study the psychological and social problems of the industrial workers. The scholars of this theory identified variables like informal organisation,leadership,morale and motivation for maximum use of human resources in industries. This led to a far vast study by Herbert Simon and others that developed the Behavioural Science theory. The behavioural science school of thought propogated by Herbert Simon challenged the principles of admiistration and its mechanistic ways as mere proverbs where one contradicted the other and thus are nothing more than general statements based on person to person experience and lacking a theoretical foudation. Herbert Simon advocated that decision analysis is what should be studied as decision making is the heart of administration where a decision has to be taken at each and every stage of administration day in and day out and administration is a series of decisions that lead to implementation and nothing more. According to Simon if administrative behaviour in an organisational setting has to be anaysed,then that can only be done by studying the decisions taken by the administrators. Chester Barnard and Edwin Stene were other two remarkable theorists of the Behavioural school.

The next stage that is the crisis of identity stage is set in the late 20th century where many parts of the world were just out of wars and colonisation called the developing nations. This phase marked a debate for the return of values in Public administration and cross cultural as well as cross national study of administration. The US also faced a host of crisis in the 1960's and the traditional public adminsitration failed to answer a lot of questions to provide solutions to the problems. Thus grew a need to reinvent public administration and lead to a question as to whether public administration that had been known as it is till then was relevant anymore. Thus was born the concept of ' New Public Administration' courtesy Dwight Waldo from the First Minnowbrook Conference in 1968 attended by young scholars and practitioners of Public Administration. These were the second generation behaviouralists as per George Frederickson who was a very important part of the FIrst Minnowbrook Conference and the main convenor of the 2nd Minnowbrook conference 20 years later in 1988. It laid stress on values in public administration and a commitedness by administrators and scholars of the discipline towards value formulation and their implementation. It developed the thought of society and its welfare as the main goal of public administration in today's times through the public policy approach. It brought democratic humanism and client orientation as well as the science perspective in New Public Administration. The collapse of the SOviet Union also strengthened this view.

Public Policy theory,the next stage in the development of Public Administration theory. Public policy is an attempt by a government to address a public issue by instituting laws, regulations, decisions, or actions pertinent to the problem at hand. It is policy that is made for the welfare of the people and their development. As a discipline public policy perspective is the study of govt. policies for the people and its pros and cons and how to better the same. Here it has come closer to political science again and also has incorporated many management principles to help public administration cope up with the dynamics of its discipline and conduct.

So these were the various stages of Public Administration's evolution as a discipline.

ROLE UNDER LIBERALISATION,PRIVATISATION & GLOBALISATION:
Under LPG the bureaucracy has to play an open and competitive role as the policy of LPG affects the role,values and skills of public bureaucracy. Liberalisation is the withdrawal of all direct controls of the govt on the ecoomic sectors through deregulation,delicensing and decontrol of pricing and distribution of products and services. Privatisation is the transfer of public ownership to private ownership that will help lead to efficiency and encourage investment that will eventually help in development of infrastructure and social programmes. Globalisation is the opening up of world trade thus converting the world into a global village or global market.
Therefore,under these new reforms Public Administration has to very fairly play the role of a enabler,collaborater,facilitator,co-operation,partnering(through public-pvt partnership in various sectors like telecom,airlines,electricityetc),regulating the market and directly handling sensitives depts such as defence,law and order,atomic energy and foreign policy. And with regards to social programmes and policies effective implementation it can partner up with various NGO's and charity organisations.

RECENT AND CURRENT TRENDS IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION:

Growth of science and technology has brought about a period of stress as well as development in the field of Public Administration both as an art(way of conducting and actually doing the activies of Public Administration by administrators) and as a science( academics,field of study for students and scholars).
The recent trends are:
1) Public - Private Partnership : Though the differences in public and pvt administration one must not forget that if they both team up viz. their respective strengths it can lead to the best of both worlds. Public administration brings in its expertise on social issues and policies and pvt admin brings in its specialisation on management and how to improve efficiency to achieve the pre-set goals by the public policy.

2) Public Administration In Policy making : Public administration as we all know very well can never be seperated from policy formulation but nowadays it is becoming all the more dominant and is easily seen. Civil services can give shape to stated policies through exercise of choice and judgement in administering them and secondly they are engaged in policy formulation through their suggestive,analytical and interpretative roles.

3) Movement towards political economy: Recently economists have developed new methods of analysing the cost and benefits of govt. programmes and administrators are choosing more and more economics as a base of public admin than political science.

4) New emerging goals of Public Administration: Efficiency( read. Technical Efficiency) and effectiveness are the ultimate goals of Public Administration.

5) Staff and line units are complimentary,not antognostic. Line agencies are the field work agencies and staff units are the technically specialised co-ordination and facilitating agencies between upper management from where decisions come and the line agencies who implement them first hand.

6) Human Relations approach in Public Administration: Its main orientation is towards change in attitudes,values and structures of organisations.

7) People's participation decision making: minority groups and poor as well are now getting their share.

8) Decentralisation: Panchayats and Municipal corporations constitutional status.

9) Emerging changes in bureaucratic pattern and behaviour: It emphasis upon formal structure,hierarchy and efficiency. It is the most important in a democratic form of govt for development of the welfare of the people. It is centrally involved in change and transformation of society. Recently there has been a growth and spread of new management techniques in public administration. It is cocerned with human goals now like : life,liberty and pursuit of happiness. The new public administration is concerned about social equity.sensitivity to human suffering and social needs.


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