Political Science

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“With the help of relevant examples from Zambia, discuss the sustainability of the Politics-Administration Dichotomy ”




Concepts of ‘politics-administration dichotomy’ have been a part of emancipatory discourse and practices for the last decades. Advocates of these concepts have claimed that the responsibilities and accountabilities of the politicians (elected) and the bureaucrats (employees) must be separate in concept and practice. But the question still being asked is whether there can be sustainability of this separation of politics and administration.

This exercise/ assignment looks at convergences between approaches towards politics-administration, how these have been played out, and how they have been or could be constructively integrated into projects, programmes, policies, and institutions.

In the following section, background is given on the definition and concepts of public administration, the theory of politics-administration dichotomy, Part three looks at whether this separation is sustainable with examples from the Zambia. Part four describes ways in which the two have been used to influence policy and to what extent measures have been institutionalised. Part five concludes the assignment, draws out recommendations for policy and identifies gaps in research on this area.


According to Prof. Sofronio Dulay (2008), he begins to describes how democracy was viewed in the early days of Industrialisation. A progressive movement to professionalize public service produced the Pendleton Act of 1883 which instituted the merit system in the civil service. In 1887, Woodrow Wilson’s “The Study of Administration” revolves around the team of professionalizing the bureaucracy by separating administration from politics and prescribing what he termed as an approach towards the science on administrative practices. This dichotomy of politics and administration was acknowledged several years later, in 1926, in a book by Leonard White entitled “Introduction to Public Administration.” Frank Goodnow made a further elaboration of this dichotomy concept in his book “Politics and Administration by saying that politics is the expression of the will of the state while that of administration is the execution of that will.

Public administration is defined differently depending on context and emphasis. According to Leonard .D White (1955), public administration is the action part of the government and consists of all those operations having for their purpose, the fulfillment or enforcement of public policy. Woodrow Wilson (1887) defines public administration as a detailed and systematic application of law. It is the means by which the purpose and goals of government are realized. As a field, public administration is concerned with the means for implementing political values and is identified with the executive branch. It differs with political science on its emphasis on behavior, methodologies and bureaucratic structures. Dwight Waldo defined it as the organization and management of men and materials to achieve the purpose of government. Gerald Calden (1971), on the other hand defined it as a cooperative group effort in public setting showing interrelationships of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government. Being part of a political process, it has important role in the formulation of public policy. As a field of study and practice, it is closely related to the human relations approach of management. Politics is defined as a social science that defines policies or expression of the state will (Goodnow 1914). According to Rumki Basi (1994) politics is the study of authority relations between individuals and groups, and the hierarchy of power which establishes itself within all numerous and complex communities. It is the science of power....
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