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Public Administration Overview

Topics: Public administration / Pages: 3 (528 words) / Published: Feb 8th, 2012
The Enterprise of Public Administration
The Business of Public Administration

By Alan Estacio

Dwight Waldo wrote "The Enterprise of Public Administration" in 1979 looking back on a long academic career, but also as a reflection about the future for public administration. Can a 30-year-old book be relevant?

• Several of Waldo's comments are accurate about today's issues
• debt crisis, e-government and trust in government. • The modern U.S. is established on a foundation of economic growth, abundance and consensus. • a new paradigm of scarcity, decay and conflict is increasing pressure on public administration.

Foresight and Principles
• The first principle suggests that there is conflict between bureaucracy and democracy that obliges public servants to protect democratic values
• This makes it impossible to run government fully as a business as businesses do not have to consider these values.

• Second, there is no dichotomy between politics and bureaucracy.
• The traditional separation between principal and agent was for Waldo theoretically interesting, but realistically impossible.

• Third, Waldo noted that ruthless pursuit of efficiency must be offset with consideration of public access.
• Government efficiency can be excessive and harmful to the interests of the people. According to Waldo, if efficiency is the only consideration, then bureaucracy fails to serve the people.

• Last, Waldo considered government to be more complex than business; therefore, it must be managed differently.
• The Constitution is a vital steering document for government, but it has limited implications in the daily life of a business. One example of government's complexity is that far more stakeholders affect public administration in comparison to a business operation.

Waldo's predictions about the future for public administration describe five areas that would be problematic:

• Legitimacy, the capability and focus to deliver the "good society.“ • Authority, the ability to implement policy with the acceptance of the people. • Institutional knowledge.

• Control, the ability to control what we want to control in the bureaucracy. The growing size of government, with a multitude of programs often running parallel, seeking to solve issues for a diverse population, generates entropy and undermines control. • Confidence, the trust people have that government delivers the "good society" in the future. The debt crisis, and its media attention, is an example of a situation that decreases confidence

Orthodox public administration ideology
Between 1900-1930

1) Democracy and efficiency (or bureaucracy) were thought to be synonymous or at least reconcilable. 2) The work of government was thought to be divisible into two parts, decision and execution, or the politics-administration dichotomy. 3) Execution or administration is, or can be made, a science based on firm scientific principles for administration which can be discovered and applied. 4) The values and practices of business management can be generally applied success- fully to governmental administration.
Dwight Waldo, a primary influence in public administration education from the 1940s through the 1970s, continues to profoundly affect educators and researchers. He has created such an impact on pedagogy, the use of the case method, his appreciation for art and the administrative novel in teaching, his views on appropriate elements of the public administration curriculum, and the relationship of public administration to political science.

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