The field of public administration
is a relatively new field, and yet its evolution has been exponential. This
field has greatly adapted to the many thoughts and theories of some of the
greatest thinkers of our time. It is their interpretations, and suggestions of
improvement that led change build upon change to successfully result in the
field we have today. Undoubtedly, public Administration and management has
progressed over time. In this paper, we review a few pioneers in public
administration, and the core principles that lay the footprints, and ultimately
the groundwork for the expansion of public administration.
We begin with Woodrow Wilson’s
“Study of Administration”, which details and explains the reasons why public
administration needs to be studied and how public administration should be
viewed. He labeled it. It is in fact only after we label something, give it a
name, that we then provide it with importance. Once it is acknowledged, in
order to study it we must investigate into its origins, its history to
establish its past. That allows a better understanding of the present, and that
determines the significance of the changes we can make here, in the present, in
order to result improvement for the future. Wilson did just that. By labeling
public administration, thinkers, politicians, and administrators took to study
this new field. This laid the groundwork for its growth, and the later theories
Wilson made some of the basic
principles of public administration. The earliest, and most important was the
separation of politics from administration in the public sector. It is after
this declaration that we can analyze the later theories and how they build upon
each other to yield modern day public administration. In this paper, we will
look at the progression and theories used to advance the field of public
administration. We will do so by understanding Goodnow’s “Politics and
Administration”, which further divides politics and administration. After being
able to recognize how politics and administration can be two separate entities,
we will further look at management practices and how they can be implemented
into the public sector. By obtaining a better understanding of Maslow’s “Theory
of Human Motivation” and using those concepts to understand how Theory X and
Theory Y (McGregor) can be interpreted. As we dive further into management
practices, we will look at Frederickson’s work of “Toward a New Public
Administration”, which refines the duties of public sector and what services
should be provided by our government.
Woodrow Wilson wanted to look at
public administration as a business. Wilson stated that politics and
administration should be two separate entities. The goal of his ideas was to be
as efficient and cost effective as possible. This is where we begin to see the
private sector management practices used in the public sector. Current research
shows that although in theory politics and administration should be maintained
separately, they do go hand in hand, and should indeed relate to one another,
but discretely, without one overpowering or determining the other.
For example, a study conducted by
Svara, illustrates that the separation of politics from administration are
indubitably connected. The study explains, that “administrators help to shape
policy, and they give it specific content and meaning in the process of
implementation.” It continues to point out the “elected officials oversee
implementation, probe specific complaints about poor performance, and attempt
to correct the problems with performance through fine-tuning” (Svara, 2001).
Svara argues that both administration and elected politicians should help each
other in the policy making process.
Ultimately the two share many
similar goals, and represent the will of the people. It is important that they
facilitate each other’s work, and to neve become an impediment to acquiring the
goals they have set out to accomplish. It is from a place of political
corruption that we have observed the need for a separation of powers, duties,
and control. We must expect the entities to work separately to uphold its
purity, and maintain its promise to adhere to the wishes and requests of the
people it represents.
Goodnow was able to identify the
dichotomy of politics and administration. Goodnow believed that the execution
of the states’ will needed to be carried out by three authorities: the
judicial, executive, and administrative branches. He was able to realize that
“there were two functions of the government: the expression of the popular will
and the execution of that will” (Tahmasebi).
Both Goodnow and Wilson wanted the separation of politics and administration
solely for the purpose of not allowing politics to play a role in
administrative decisions such as policy making. It was an attempt to limit
corruption, and allow administration to be stand on its own two feet.
These ideas were accepted and were
continued to be build upon. Taylor, for example, brought about the theory of
Scientific management. Scientific management brought about ideas on how to
improve efficiency in the workplace. Taylor was one of the first people to
apply science into the idea of management. Taylor first sought out to replace
working by “rule of thumb,” with hard data that would maximize efficiency in
the workplace. Secondly, he stated that workers should be trained in particular
tasks to amplify the efficiency. Thirdly, Taylor believed that managers must
monitor the workers performance, stating that employees work most efficient
when they are being watched. Lastly, Taylor believed it would be most efficient
if the work is divided between supervisors and their workers.
Although Taylor was able to grasp
some important aspects in workplace efficiency, the fault in the theory is that
workers are not a science, and therefore there a multitude of variables that
are unaccounted for in his theory.
Taylor’s management style was geared a little more towards the business
aspect of management. Scientific management is difficult to be used as one of
the main theories to help stricture the public sector, because one of the
founding principles is the idea that employees are motivated by making money.
After reviewing Taylor’s theories
on scientific management, we look at Maslow’s view of public administration.
Contrary to Taylor’s theories, Maslow attempted to view management practices
through human motivations instead of using scientific management. Maslow theorized
that humans had basic needs for motivation, which were the following:
Physiological, safety, love, esteem, and the need for self-actualization.
Physiological needs consist of basic necessities, such as food, water, warmth,
sex, and sleep. These needs are necessary and essential to progress into the
other needs. In other words, each need must be satisfied in order to want to
satisfy the need above that one. For example, if some feels hungry, or is
fearful for their life, they will need to satisfy those needs first such as
eat, or confirm their safety, before they would need to satisfy their self-esteem.
Safety needs consist of security,
order, law stability. Love needs consist of creating relationships, such as
friendships, wife/husband, having children. Self-Esteem needs are categorized
into two needs: The self-esteem for oneself and the reputation from other
people. Having self-esteem provides the person with confidence and achievement.
Self-Actualization needs are considered fulfilled when the person realizes
their own potential. Maslow placed these needs in a hierarchy, stating that
each is necessary to fulfill the next step. Maslow’s ideas are still relevant
today, work environments needs to be able to feed to these motivations that
employees have (Jerome, 2013). These are principles that are deeply tied to the
psychological understanding of people, and how they interact in any work
setting. It is one of the most widely applicable theories.
McGregor provided the field of
public administration with practicing theories of management, Theory Y and
Theory X. Theory X consists of the idea that the employee does not enjoy the
work that has to be done, they want to avoid the responsibilities of the task
at hand, and are generally not as responsible. Theory X type of management
requires the employee’s direct supervision to make sure that the work is being
conducted. Theory Y is more of an open form of management, with the idea that
employees enjoy their work, are committed fully to their work, and are
self-directed. This type of management style allows the employees more freedom
to finish their work without a threat of punishment.
The two styles of management are
still in use today, with generally, Theory X being seen in government agencies.
Government agencies are known to use theory X management styles because of the
necessity to achieve social equity. Even though Theory X is generally seen in
government, management practices can be divided even further as you research
departments within the government. Theory Y is largely spotted in the tech
companies seen, where employees spend hundreds of hours at work. Companies that
incorporate theory Y, such as Google, Amazon, and other tech companies, provide
its employees with a relaxed and independent environment.
I would like to go in depth into McGregor’s
management theories. A study conducted by Mohamed, arguing that Theory Y
managers and companies generally have better performance and results in
comparisons to Theory X managers and companies (Mohamed, 2013). He states that
Theory Y management style is more of a democratic style of management, while
Theory X is more of an autocratic style of management. I believe that Theory Y
management style and practices need to be used more in the field of public
administration. If you are able to provide the proper culture in the work
environment in the public sector, you will be able to achieve more as
hypothesized by the Theory Y management practice view.
stated that new public
administration adds social equity to the classic objectives and rationale.
These objects are efficiency, economical, and coordinated management. Social
equity can be defined as society having equal access to the social goods and
services. As the views of public administration progress, the questions changed
from how can we offer better services with the available resources, to a
different question, asking, how can we maintain the level of services while
spending less to the new public administration.
New Public administration uses social
equity by seeking not only to carry out legislative mandates as efficiently and
economically as possible, but rather to both influence and execute policies
which improve the quality of life for all its citizens within that society. The
answer to the new public administration by Frederickson consisted of:
Distributive, integrative, boundary-exchange, and Socio-emotional processes.
These processes would most importantly enhance the quality of service provided
by the public sector. The evolution of the goals for public administrative
evolved to efficient without sacrificing the quality, distribution of work
while maintaining fairness, and executing public policies while sustaining
justice. Frederickson focused on the subjective measures of success.
As we progress through the years,
public administration and research has been increasing their attention to
innovation. Innovations consists of new ideas and practices implemented into
the work environment. In a study conducted by De Vries, Bekkers, and Tummers, they
found that innovations took place primarily in the local government section of
the public sectors. In the local levels, “the most effective elements were
found to consist of planning measures and the organizational flexibility of
local governments” (De Vries, 2016). I believe that local governments have the
most innovations in terms of adaptations to new management practices due to the
more Theory Y manner in comparisons to larger government sections. Smaller public-sector
government departments need to higher the most talented personnel and are more
compact in terms of keeping the proper work environment in place.
In conclusion, it is clear that the
field of public administration has been shaped by a multitude of ideas. Its
core has been developed and the structure has been further developed by some of
these concepts. It is expected that growth will continue, and we look to new
ideas in order to push this field to become as efficient and as ideal as it
could be. As the field of public administration continues to progress, we can
take some of these ideas and build upon them to make suggestions in even in the
Some of these ideas are the
possible implementation of Theory X and how it can potentially be used in
certain areas of public administration, with the hope of cradling the
creativity of certain sectors, and augment productivity. It is imperative that
we take all of these ideas with a grain of salt. It is always a good idea to
break down these suggestions, and take the pieces that work. It is not
necessary to take the ideas as a whole, but the parts that make sense. Even
then, we could take some parts and work on them more, and develop them into
potentially improved versions with a higher likelihood of success if
implemented. Therefore, it is imperative that we implement the good parts of
the theories and understand why the bad ones are not successful.
As a review, the evolution of the
field of administration is much broader than presented in this paper, but the
highlights presented here, have truthfully acted as the pillars of this field
that have kept it from crumbling, and in truth have raised into a broad complex
field where we hope to continue to improve.
Woodrow Wilson labeled the field of administration, and called out to
others and stated the merit in studying this field.
We have now looked through the
past, observed and analyzed its growth, and now we can presently use this
knowledge to create and hypothesize theories with hopes of improvement. Because
of these thinkers and their work, we have been able to separate politics from
administration, find efficiency in the work place through various theories, and
eventually keep progressing towards an ever-changing field of public
administration. The public sector must be able to find management practices
used in the private sector, while separating the politics of it, and implement
them in ways that will serve the citizens of the country, state, or local