What Is Public Administration?

Governance, Policy, and
What Is Public Management or
I. What is Public Administration?
II. Why is Public Administration Difficult to Define?
III. Public Administrators
A. Who Are They?
B. What Do They Do?
C. What Should They Know?
IV. Public Administration and Business
A. How is PA Similar to Business?
B. How is PA Different From Business?
V. What are the Key Issues in Public Administration
Theory and Practice?
VI. What are the Big Questions?
A. Behn
I. What is Public
 Denhardt: Public Administration is concerned
with the management of public programs
 Wilson: Public Administration is the detailed and
systematic execution of public law (administrative
study is to discover first what government can
properly and successfully do, and how it can do
these proper things with the utmost possible
efficiency and the least possible cost either of
money or of energy)
Wilson, continued
 Administration is a field of business
 Administration lies outside the proper
sphere of politics
 Administration must be at all points
sensitive to public opinion
 Do you see any problems with any of the
above statements?
I. What is Public
 Fesler and Kettl: Public Administration includes
the shaping of policy on the way up, execution of
policy after it has been made, and as a necessary
part of the execution, decision making about
policy matters on the way down
 Simon et al: In its broadest sense, administration
can be defined as the activities of groups
cooperating to accomplish common goals.
I. What is Public
 Dimock and Dimock: In simple terms,
administration is securing cooperation in order to
get the work of the world accomplished . . .As a
career, administration is an exciting challenge, for
it calls on many aspects of a man’s nature and
abilities and applies them to sticky social
 Starling: Public Administration is the process by
which resources are marshaled and then used to
cope with the problems facing a political
I. What is Public
 Milakovich and Gordon: Public Administration may be
defined as all processes, organizations, and individuals
acting in official positions and roles associated with
carrying out laws and other rules adopted or issued by
legislatures, executives, and courts (many activities are
also concerned with formulations of these rules). PA is
also a field of academic and community study and
professional training leading to public service careers at all
levels of government.
 Which of these definitions best captures your personal
definition of PA?
 Which of these definitions do you feel is the most
valuable in promoting the field of PA?
II. Why is Public Administration
Difficult to Define?
 Rosenbloom: Central problem of Public
Administration theory is that is derived
from 3 distinct approaches of what PA is
and each emphasizes different values,
organizational structure, and views of
Rosenbloom, continued
 Managerial (what PA ought to be)-grew out of
civil service reforms; PA was to be geared toward
the maximization of effectiveness, efficiency and
 efficiency-most important value
 structure-hierarchical, functional specialization,
jobs merit based, politically neutral competence;
individual-impersonal view, individual worker is
turned into an appendage, to a mechanical means
of production
Rosenbloom, continued
 Political (what PA was in practice)-PA is a problem in
political theory, the fundamental problem in a democracy
is responsibility to popular control; the responsibility and
responsiveness of the administrative agencies and the
bureaucracies to the elected officials is of central
importance in a government based increasingly on the
exercise of discretionary power by the agencies of
 responsiveness, representativeness, and accountability
through elected officials to the citizenry are key values
 structure-advantages of pluralism; enable faction to
compete against faction; political participation by a variety
of interested parties
 individual-viewed as part of an aggregate group
Rosenbloom, continued
 Legal-administrative law, judicalization of PA,
and constitutional laws are three components
 procedural due process, individual substantive
rights, equity are key values
 structure-designed to facilitate the use of
adversarial procedure; independence of hearing
officer critical;
 individual-viewed as a unique person in a unique
set of circumstances
Rosenbloom, continued
 The three approaches cannot be synthesized
because they are an integral part of a political
culture that emphasizes the separation of powers
rather than integrated political action; each
associated with a different branch of government:
 managerial (executive) implementation of rules;
 political (legislative) making rules
 legal (judicial) questions concerning
application/execution of rules
Peters—Models of Governance
 Market Models
 Participatory State
 Flexible Government
 Deregulating Government
– Structure
– Management
– Policy Making
– Public Interest
III. Public Administrators
– A. Who Are They?
 PAs of the future:
– operate in a world shaped by high public
– public-private and intergovernmental
– technological complexity,
– cultural diversity,
– feel of home,
– not government bureaucracy,
III. Public Administrators
--A. Who Are They continued
encouraging interaction between employees,
no excessive staff,
immediate products,
cutting red tape,
quick service delivery: variety, fragmentation, and
– information age: quality and innovation are chief goals;
need ability to synthesize the data in order to make
effective decisions; have to be team players
 Which of these factors are you most concerned
about as you become an administrator?
III. Public Administrators
 B. What Do They Do?
 Interpersonal—relationships with others
– a. figurehead-handling ceremonial and symbolic
– b. leader-relationships with subordinates, including
motivation, communication, encouragement, and
– c. liaison-development of information sources both
inside and outside an organization
– d. politician-active attempts to shape environment
III. Public Administrators
 B. What Do They Do, continued
 Informational—managers as nerve
center of the organization
– e. monitor-seeking current information from
many sources
– f. disseminator-transmits current information to
others, both inside and outside of the
– g. spokesperson-official statement about the
agency to people outside the organization
III. Public Administrators
 B. What Do They Do, continued
 Decisional—information is only a means to an
end-the decision
– h. entrepreneur-initiation of change—willingness to
scan broader environments for approaches that suit their
objectives, not captives of sectoral conventions, carve
out new and personal missions for their organization,
they are opportunistic, taking advantage of available
resources, willing to take risks, have a bias toward
– i. disturbance handler-resolving conflict-subordinates,
departments, citizens
III. Public Administrators
 B. What they do: Decisional, continued
– j. resource allocator-decisions about how to allocate
people, time, equipment, budget
– k. negotiator-formal negotiations and informal
– l. policy maker-all organizations have policies that are
statements of goals and objectives
 Which of these areas are you most/least
comfortable with?
III. Public Administrators
 C. What Should They Know?
 They need to know the process by which public policies
are conceived and implemented; and the political,
institutional, and socio-technological setting in which this
policy process takes place
 Political knowledge alone is not enough, they must also
have political skills
 Need skills to analyze and interpret political, social, and
economic trends
 Need skills to evaluate the consequences of administrative
action, and skills to persuade and bargain
 What are some of the current political, social,
or economic trends affecting administration?
Levin—Management Matters
 Discovery is not enough
 Point decisions are not enough
 Freedom is only the end of the beginning
IV. Public Administration
and Business
Why should you be able to
discuss the similarities
and/or differences between
public administration and
IV. Public Administration
and Business
 A. How is PA Similar to Business?
 Both sectors are concerned with issues of
organization design, the allocation of
resources and the management of people
IV. Public Administration
and Business
 B. How is PA Different From Business?
 Work in public organizations
is distinguished by its
pursuit of democratic values
and this affects nearly
everything done as a public
IV. Public Administration
and Business
 B. How is PA Different From Business?
 Denhardt:
– Ambiguity, pluralistic decision making, and
visibility - all stem from pursuing public purposes
– Responsibility in PA is blurred-different structures
– Incentive to satisfy parties that provides the
resources-different incentives
– Public’s right to know what goes on/external forcesdifferent settings
– Produce profits versus produce public gooddifferent purposes

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