Question 1 Discuss the evolution of Public Administration as a discipline.Discuss the evolution of Public Administration as a discipline.

Question 1 Discuss the evolution of Public Administration as a discipline.Discuss the evolution of Public Administration as a discipline.

Answer public administration originated much earlier than its birth as a discipline. One time American president, Woodrow Wilson is thought to be founding father of public administration as a separate discipline because his essay laid the foundation for systematic and separate study of public administration. As Nicholas Henry says, “Woodrow Wilson largely set the tone for the early study of public administration”.

In 1887, Woodrow Wilson introduced Americans to a new field, public administration, with an essay titled, “The study of Administration”. Besides, Wilson’s article on administration, Americans also witnessed “The Reformist Public Service Movement” which planted ideas of public administration in the practical ground – even in streets, says Nicholas Henry.

The evolution of public administration as a separate discipline can be traced in the following phases.

The Politics/Administration Dichotomy (1887 – 1926)
Principles Of Public Administration (1927 – 1937)
The Challenge (1938 – 1950)
The Crisis Of Identity (1950 – 1970)
Public Administration As Political Science (1950 -1970)
Public Administration As Management (1950 – 1970)
Public Administration As Public Administration (1970 – Present)
Woodrow Wilson led the first stone of a new discipline in 1887 with the ideas of development of ‘science of administration’ and ‘separation between politics and administration’. However, Wilson did not draw a clear line between the politics and the administration. It was in 1900, when Frank J. Goodnow (known as father of American public administration) separated politics and administration. He wrote in his book, “Politics and Administration” –

“Politics has to do with policies or expressions of the state will,” while “administration has to do with the execution of these policies.”

“The location of politics is the legislature and the higher echelons of the government where major policy – decisions would be made and the larger questions of allocation of values decided upon,” while “the location of administration is the executive arm of government, the bureaucracy.”

According to scholars of this era, separation between politics and administration was necessary so that elected holders and appointed public administrators could work together more effectively as civic leaders. Nevertheless, this idea was overlooked as public administration sought its identity during this period. In 1926, L. D. White in his book, “Introduction to the Study of Public Administration” expressed that;

“Partisan politics should not intrude on administration; the mission of public administration is efficiency; and administration in general is capable of becoming a “value-free” science in its own right.”

This perspectives provided an intellectual base for the next phase of public administration which focused on the idea that like principles of science, there were principles of administration.

In 1927, W. F. Willoughby wrote in his book, “The principles of Public Administration” that –

“Public administrators would be effective if they learned and applied scientific principles of administration.”

This suffused the whole management theory into public administration which proved poison for newly born field, public administration. Mohit Bhattacharya writes – “during this period, focus of public administration from ‘public’ was replaced almost wholly by ‘efficiency’.”

Advocates of the principles approach believed in:-

Universality Of administrative principles which could be applied to all sorts of organization anywhere regardless of culture, administrative setting, institutional framework, environment, function, mission etc.
Principle approach would promote efficiency and economy in administration.
However, in 1935, Princeton University hosted a national conference where it was found that public administration could not be established as separate field of study within the universities.

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