Friday, June 22, 2012


Welcome all Public Administration students,academicians,enthusiasts & colleagues. A blog for everything Public Administration.


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Today we begin with what is Public Administration. The definition,nature and scope of this complex and very young discipline.
To begin with, Public Administration though practiced through time immemorial ( it is as old as humanity) on all parts of the earth,recently carved an identity for itself a few decades back as a seperate discipline.
It swirled into the limelight through Woodrow Wilson's controversial paper in the Political Science Quarterly ( Journal) in 1887 that advocated a seperate field of study for the art and science of Public Administration since Political Science did not have the answers to many questions of Public Administration. He advocated a comparative study of public administration with other nations to know our strengths and weaknesses of Public Administration as being practiced in US at  that point in time. He asserted that if US wanted to become the best then it had to get skilled in the art and techniques of public administration by making it more businesslike and totally cut off from the interference of the political executive who knew nothing about the technicalities of implementation of public policy.

This was called the era of the politics-administration dichotomy(divide) that continued till the 1920's.

Thus began a spate of theories that helped in the evolution of Public Administration as a seperate discipline and matter of great research and analysis.

Now since today we are to talk about the basics we will proceed with the stages of evolution of the discipline of Public Administration in my next blog.

Public Administration is the State Administration or Government Administration. Here Public is used as a synonym for Govt/State and not in the traditional sense of the word 'public'. So it is the govt's administration activities in process i.e. implementation of all its programmes and policies as well as other routine jobs. It is the management of the state/govt affairs at all levels - national,state and local. It is the govt. in action that implements and realises the purposes and goals. It is run by bureaucrats working under various ministries/departments.

Nigro & Nigro sum up Public Administration as follows:

  • It is a co-operative group effort in a public setting.
  • Has an important role in public policy formulation
  • covers all three branches of the govt./state - i.e. executive,legislature and judicial.
  • different from private administration(profit oriented businesses)
  • is closely associated with private groups and people in providing services to the community smoothly and directly.
  • Is non-polictical though operating in a political system.
  • deals with goal achievement of the govt,the sovereign will of the people's interests and laws.
  • It is interdisciplinary in nature as in it draws from many other social sciences and their theories like sociology,psychology,economics,law,etc.

Nature means the type or main characteristic of something and what is to be expected from it as per its behaviour/nature.
Public administration's nature and the study concerning it approaches it through two views: Integral view and Managerial view.

Both are quite plain to understand. The Integral view states that Public Administration is each and every activity that is performed in an organization working towards a particular goal of the stae/govt. This means right from the top managerial officers to the very bottom manual workers,all are part of public administration as a process.

On the other hand the Managerial view only takes into account the managerial activities of an organization.
It is bothered only about the activities that get things done instead of doing things(as stated in integral view).

Now you have to understand that both of these views are necessary and hold water in particular organizations.

The integral approach is suited for the postal dept since over there everybody from the top job to the post man's job is of importance. Whereas the mangerial view can be applied to each and every organizations, since POSDCORB ( Planning,organising,staffing,directing,co-ordinatinating,reporting and budgeting) activities as prescribed by Luther Gulick are present in every organization.

As a activity and a discipline(area of study) Public Administration entails the following processes:

  • Luther Gulick's POSDCORB(already explained above) activities of an organization.
  • Walker's Administrative theory - that studies the structures,organisations,functions and methods of all types of public authorities at all levels. And the APPLIED ADMINISTRATION which studies the exec-legislative relationship and minister-official relationship,delegated legislation,preperation of budget by officials,educational administration,military administration,social policies,economic activities of the govt.,foreign policy,problems and techniques of imperial domination over other nations and local administration.
  • Pfifner - he talks about management of personnel,public financing and administrative accountabilty to the people throught their ministers alongwith the abovementioned.
  • SUBJECT MATTER VIEW: Certain organizations cannot follow the straightjacket formula and way of functioning as listed above as their subject matter is totally different,like for example the police department and intelligence bureaus have their own procedures and techniques followed to gather intelligence and protect the people.


  • Public admin is bureaucratic whereas pvt administration is businesslike.
  • public admin is political(ministerial responsibility) whereas pvt admin is non political.
  • there are high instances of red tapism in public admin whereas pvt admin is free from it.
  • Public admin follows uniform laws whereas pvt admin follows dynamism in  its way of working.
  • public admin is controlled financially from outside through the legislature,pvt admin is free from such processes.
  • no profit motive/marginal return policy of public admin whereas pvt admin is built for profit
  • breadth and scope of public admin is mammoth.
  • public admin is accountable to the public.
  • public admin acts an agent of change and transformation in society.
  • anonymity of officials in public admin.
  • Common skills and techniques for management process.
  • both serve people and be informative toward them.
  • in modern times profit motive is not peculiar even to public administration.
  • pvt organisations have taken a lot from the personnel mgmnt practices of the public admin organizations.
  • similar type of hierarchy and management systems.
  • both carry on continuous efforts to better themselves and provide efficient delivery of services to people or customers.

  • It is the basis of govt. - A govt. can exist without a legislature or even an independent judiciary but not without administration.
  • An instrument for providing services to people.
  • Instrument to implement policies through qualified and skilled officials.
  • Stabilising force in society.
  • Instrument of social change and upliftment and economic development.
  • it has a technical character to it.


  • Industrial revolution that brought in socio-economic disparities and made the rich richer and poor poorer and so the govt. had to assume a new role to protect workers and the weaker sections of society.
  • Emergence of Welfare and democratic State: To serve all sections of society and reduce the disparity of socio-economic status of people in society due to the above and other factors by controlling pvt enterprises and meeting state objectives.
  • Economic Planning- very important in developing countries for socio economic development.
  • Scientific and technological development for betterment of people and society.
  • population growth,warfare,increased natural and man made disaster,communalist activities causing violence,terrorism,etc.
The blog ends at this. The next blog will cover Public Administration's evolution as a discipline,its role under LPG and the recent trends in Public Administration.

Feedback and comments are welcome.


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  1. i add some more point regardind Wilson:- politics administration dichotomy_
    he said it the political science sholars who did not want to make pub adm an independent discipline due to fear of division of their funds.otherwise politicy and administration is completely different phenomena.

    he pleaded for use of comprative studies in administration as quoted"there is no harm in learning the art of sharpenning the knife from a killer the same knowledge can be applied in enhancing security" .so administrion ais an active science.
    his seminal essay and inclination towards the businesslike govt revolutionaise contemporary management world and lead the way of startinfg of various mgt theories.

  2. @ Mr. Santosh: Yes, these are the examples Woodrow Wilson gave while emphasising on a need for comparitive public administration studies ( mentioned in blog above) to drive home the point to even a novice on the importance of the abovementioned approach.

    Political science scholars did not want to divide public admin from themselves due to many reasons - positive and negative. They feared division of funds,yes. They also did not want to let public administrators out of their hands and develop/grow to have their own rules and techniques as they felt a loss of power in the practical sense and also their discipline would become narrowed down due to the exclusion of pub ad as a seperate study.
    Some political science scholars and practitioners who genuinely felt that Public Admin cannot be seperated from Politics and there can never be a dichotomy because Polity drives pub ad and pub ad in turn helps formulate policies. So, they advocated it to be a part of political science but broaden its ambit of studies.

    Wilson as mentioned above in my blog is considered the founder and father of public admin as a discipline and his seminal essay definitely drove scholars to explore this subject with reinforced vigour and interest.

  3. good information about the subject here..
    thanks for the blog and its posts brother..


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    Thanks guys for the effort.

  6. Lucid , precise and on-mark. Good Service.

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