Public Administration in Today’s World of Organizations and Markets
By Herbert Simon, Carnegie Mellon University
It is a special pleasure for me to give a lecture named in honor of John M Gaus. My files still retain several gracious letters from him to a young colleague, one after a session in which we had participated at the 1950 APSA meeting; another commenting on a paper I had published in APSR in 1953.
When I encountered the world of public administration 65 years ago, John Gaus was just undertaking, with Leon O Wolcott, their remarkable study, Public Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture (1940). Don Smithburg, Vic Thompson, and I drew heavily on that work when we wrote our textbook, Public Administration, in 1950. Gaus and Wolcott's work today continues to throw valuable light on how organisations come into existence and grow, often under the influence of technological advances that provide them with the potential for important new activities. The innovations in the Department of Agriculture that their book examined included forest conservation, vaccines to combat animal diseases, and the parity principle to deal with agricultural overproduction during the Great Depression.
In fact, Gaus and Wolcott's analysis of the interaction of interaction and organisational and technological change resonates strongly with today's interest in the processes and rates of growth of public and business organisations.
Research on Complex Organisations
This brings me directly to my topic for this evening: the mechanisms that make complex organisations effective instruments for carrying out human purposes. And even closer to the theme of John Gaus's study of the interactions between technological innovation and changes in governmental organisation, I should like to ask what kinds of organisational structures facilitate change and innovation. I will talk about both private economic institutions and government.... [continues]
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