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Public Administration Essay

public administration essay

Example #1

Public administration is often regarded as including also some responsibility for determining the policies and programs of governments. Specifically, it is the following:

  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Directing
  • Coordinating
  • Controlling of government operations.

Public administration is a feature of all nations, whatever their system of government. Within nations, public administration is practiced at the

  •  Central
  • Intermediate
  • Local levels

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Civil Service. The body of public administrators is usually called CIVIL SERVICE. Certain characteristics are common to all civil services. Senior civil servants are regarded as the professional advisers to those who formulate state policy. Senior civil servants are professional in the sense that their experience of public affairs is thought to provide them with the knowledge of the limits within which state policy can be made effective and of the probable administrative results of different courses of action.

Civil servants in every country are expected to:

  • Advise
  • Warn
  • Assist those responsible for state policy
  • And, when this has been decided, to provide the organization for implementing it.

The responsibility for policy decisions lies with the political members of the executive (those members who have been elected or appointed to give political direction to the government and, customarily, career civil servants). By custom, civil servants are protected from public blame or censure for their advice. The acts of their administration may, however, be subject to special judicial controls from which no member of the executive can defend them.

Structure of civil service. Civil services are organized upon standard hierarchical lines, in which a command structure rises pyramid-fashion from the lowest offices to the highest. This command implies obedience to the lawful orders of a superior, with well-defined duties, specific powers, and salaries and privileges objectively assessed. A recognized system of internal promotion emphasizes the nature of the hierarchical pyramid. Early systems – historical background. Public administration has ancient origins. The principal officeholders were regarded as being principally responsible for administering:

  • Justice
  • Maintaining law and order
  • Providing plenty

Romans developed a more sophisticated system under their empire, creating distinct administrative hierarchies for:

  •    Justice
  • Military affairs
  • Finance and taxation
  • Foreign affairs
  • Internal affairs

An elaborate administrative structure, later imitated by the Roman Catholic Church, covered the entire empire, with a hierarchy of officers reporting back through their superiors to the emperor. Apart from justice and treasury departments, which originated in old court offices, modern ministerial structures in Europe developed out of the royal councils, which were powerful bodies of nobles appointed by the monarch. From the division of labor within these bodies the monarchs’ secretaries, initially given low status within a council, emerged as perhaps the first professional civil servants in Europe in the modern sense.

Modern developments The foundations of modern public administration in Europe were laid in Prussia in the late 17th and 18th centuries. The electors of Brandenburg (who from 1701 were the kings of Prussia) considered a rigidly centralized government a means of ensuring stability and furthering dynastic objectives. Their principal effort was devoted in the first instance to the:

  • Suppression of the autonomy of the cities
  • The elimination of the feudal privileges of the aristocracy.

Civil servants were therefore appointed by the central government to administer the provinces. The management of crown lands and the organization of the military system were combined in an “Office of War and Crown Lands”. Subordinates to these offices were the TAX COUNCILLORS, who controlled the administration of the municipalities and communes. These officials were all appointed by the central government and were responsible for it.

Developing nations. Less-developed countries have had to face the opposite problem with their civil services. Few of the colonial powers had trained indigenous administrators sufficiently. The British left a viable administrative structure in India and a partly Indianized civil service, but the newly independent Pakistan had few experienced civil servants. The lack of qualified personnel sometimes led to:

  • Reduction in efficiency in the civil service
  • A decline in administrative morality
  • Nepotism
  • Tribalism
  • Corruption

The incapacity of the civil service was a factor leading to military rule, as were the political failings of the elected leaders. Military regimes have frequently been the last resort of a country where the civil power has failed to cope with the problems of independence. Consequently, the United Nations (UN), in conjunction with the governments of advanced countries, began to develop training programs for civil servants from underdeveloped countries.

The classical definition. The study and practice of public administration have been essentially pragmatic and normative rather than theoretical and value-free. A prominent principle of public administration has been:

  • Economy and
  • Efficiency, i.e. the provision of public services at the minimum cost.

This has usually been the stated objective of administrative reform. Efficiency continues to be a major goal, despite growing concern about other kinds of values, such as:

  • Responsiveness to public needs
  • Justice and equal treatment
  • Citizen involvement in government decisions

In its concern with efficiency and improvement, public administration has focused frequently on questions of formal organization. It is generally held that administrative ills can be at least partly corrected by the reorganization. Many organizational principles originated with the military, a few from private business. They include, for example:

  • Organizing departments, ministries, and agencies on the basis of common or closely related purposes,
  • Grouping like activities in single units,
  • Equating responsibility with authority,
  • Ensuring unity of command (only one supervisor for each group of employees),
  • Limiting the number of subordinates reporting to a single supervisor,
  • Differentiating line (operating or end-purpose) activities from staff (advisory, consultative, or support) activities,
  • Employing the principle of management by exception (only the unusual problem or case is brought to the top), and
  • Having a clear-cut chain of command downward and of responsibility upward.

Some critics have maintained that these and other principles of public administration are useful only as rough criteria for given organizational situations. They believe that organizational problems differ and that the applicability of rules to various situations also differs. Public administration has also laid stress upon personnel. The direction has been toward:

  • Meritocracy — the best individual for each job
  • Competitive examinations for entry
  • Selection and promotion on the basis of merit.

Attention has increasingly been given to factors like:

  •  Personal attitudes
  • Incentives
  • Personality
  • Personal relationships
  • Collective bargaining

In addition, the BUDGET has developed as a principal tool in:

  • Planning future programs
  • Deciding priorities
  • Managing current programs
  • Linking executive with the legislature
  • Developing control and accountability

Recent interpretations. The orthodox doctrine rested on the premise that administration was simply the implementation of public policies determined by others. According to this view, administrators should seek maximum efficiency but should be otherwise neutral about values and goals. During the great depression & World War II, however, it became increasingly evident that:

Many new policies originated within the administration

  • Policy and value judgments were virtually contained in the most significant administrative decisions.
  • That many administrative officials worked on nothing except policy,
  • Insofar as public policies were controversial, such work inevitably involved administrators in politics.
  • The supposed independence of administration from policy and politics was seen to be illusory.

Since the 1930s there has thus been increasing concern with policy formation and the development of techniques to improve policy decisions. It was with governmental efforts to combat the Depression that new informational devices were introduced, including:

  • National income accounting
  • The scrutiny of the gross national product as a major index of economic health.

The applied techniques of fiscal and monetary policy have become established specialization of public administration. Responses to incrementalism. Incrementalism is the tendency of the government to tinker with policies rather than to question the value of continuing them. A number of techniques have been introduced to make decisions more rational. One such technique, widely applied, is cost-benefit analysis. This involves:

  •  Identifying
  • Quantifying
  • Comparing the costs and benefits of alternative proposals.

Quantitative economic measurement is useful up to a certain point. The value of human life, of freedom from sickness and pain, of safety on the streets, of clean air, and of opportunity for achievement are hardly measurable in monetary terms. Public administration has thus increasingly concerned itself with developing better social indicators, quantitative and qualitative–that is, better indexes of the effects of public programs and new techniques of social analysis.

Another development has been an increasing emphasis on human relations. An experiment brought out the importance of productivity of the social or informal organization, good communications, individual and group behavior, and attitudes (as distinct from aptitudes). Awareness of the importance of human relations influenced the conduct of public administration. By the late 1930s, the human relation’s approach had developed into a concept known as “organization development.” Its primary goal was to change the attitudes, values, and structures of organizations so that they could meet new demands.

Organization development stressed the identification of personal with:

  • Organizational goals, the “self-actualization” of workers and managers,
  • Effective interpersonal communication,
  • Broad participation in decision making.

Its direct use within governmental agencies has been limited and has not always been successful, but it has had a considerable indirect influence upon administrators. Another modern movement in public administration has been the greater participation of citizens in government. It was stimulated during the 1950s and ’60s by a growing feeling that governments were not responding to the needs of their citizens, particularly minority groups and the poor. These involved the delegation of decision making from central to local offices and, at the local level, the sharing of authority with citizen groups. Future of public administration. Challenges:

  • The extra-ordinary explosion of new knowledge and technological innovations
  • Accommodation of ourselves and institutions to this explosion
  • Coping and employing our knowledge
  • Using the knowledge for benefit rather than destruction
  • Falling prey to technological imperative and allowing rational technical interests to supersede human concerns
  • “Twilight of hierarchy”
  • Quantity of information will no longer be the most important issue
  • Organizing knowledge for human purposes, facilitating the pursuit of important public purposes
  • Organizing information for enhancing the process of democratic decision-making, of consensus building, and of dialogue and deliberation
  • More involvement of citizens in decisions
  • Increasing integration and globalization (of business, politics, culture) rather than Trans-globalization
  • Free market economy
  • Free society (refers to pluralist society rather than homogeneous)
  • Economic stagnation
  • Identifying responsibilities rather than functions of government
  • Building up communities (includes diminishing polarization, teaching diversity and respect, building coalitions, resolving disputes, negotiating and mediating, promotion of pluralism, etc.)
  • Erosion of confidence in traditionally structured institutions (includes social institutions like business, labor, media, religion, etc.)

After affects

  • Turn Public management “inside-out” and “upside-down”
  • Internal focus replaced by an external focus on citizens and citizenship (two-way street between citizens and government)
  • Traditional top-down orientation replaced by shared leadership system
  • Centralized and controlled existence (No BOSS and MANAGER concept)
  • Execution through patterns of teamwork and shared leadership
  •  Clusters of people working and growing together
  • Leadership “energizes” and energizing the group means energizing the leadership

Future tasks of Public Administration

  • Make democracy suitable for modern conditions
  • Support efforts that extend democracy
  • New roles to be played with respect to the public i.e. “Citizen’s First” concept
  • Less controlling and more of supporting, resolving, exploring, creating, and caring
  • Developing and maintaining more democratic forms of organizations and management
  • Integration of theories and practice
  • Public service to make a difference for a better future for all



Example #2

The definition of public administration assumes several dimensions. The most common relates to the study of public entities and the relationship that exists among such entities and the world to a larger extent. It is, therefore, easier to explain the concepts related to public administration than attempt to offer a conclusive definition. The manner in which organizations in the public sector are managed and organized, especially in reference to the guidance offered by public policy structures, which in turn influence government operations is the backbone of public administration.

It is worth noting that such government operations determine the extent of success of the plans put in place to meet the needs of the public. Public administration also determines the extent to which states, towns, and counties work in conjunction with the central and federal government in an effort to meet the needs of the public. Public administration as an educational discipline involves the training personnel who in turn offer crucial services to the general populace. Street-level bureaucracy refers to activities carried out by public service entities whose constituents are street-level bureaucrats, such persons have distinct characteristics such as assuming front line position in carrying out activities.

This term also incorporates public servants who experience challenges in the real world, especially in the delivery of service. This is attributed to the existence of limited resources necessary for countering such challenges. Examples of street-level bureaucrats include Doctors, lawyers, clerks, teachers, and healthcare workers. Street-level bureaucrats make policies through conformation to set out guidelines and procedures such as taking responsibility for the direction to be taken in executing existing policies. In the process, new policies are formulated to cover up for the existent gaps.

Street-level bureaucrats also make policies through screening recipients of public service thus changing the criteria for selecting persons thus eventually deciding who can be a client or not. Street-level bureaucrats also decide the areas in the society where resources will be directed, especially in regard to the level of need, this eventually brings forth the need for policymaking. The above-mentioned activities can be achieved through maintaining discretion, interpretive ability, and a high degree of authority.

A rational comprehensive approach to decision making involves careful analysis of all the possible solutions or methodologies required to achieve a definite end result. It is necessary to appreciate the usefulness of clarifying values as it helps in identifying the most effective and efficient manner in achieving the stipulated end results. This type of decision making is founded on the assumption that an individual possesses all the relevant information required to make informed choices.

Incremental decision making differs from a rational comprehensive approach to decision making in that it is a progressive form of decision making that develops slowly from the initial steps with the aim of building consensus and incorporating all possible and suitable options critical to achieving end results. It takes a considerably long period of time and involves people with the sole objective of producing results through concerted efforts. In short rational comprehensive model involves the acquisition of information, a factor that brings clarity in thoughts actions, goals, and selection criteria.

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This process creates several options critical for decision making to take root. These issues are absent in the incremental model which is seen as muddling through thus absence of vision. Charity is an activity that aims at relieving the suffering that is experienced by people with the sole purpose of making such persons comfortable on a temporary basis. Philanthropy, on the other hand, aims at solving the root cause of such problems with the aim of creating irreversible change among individuals.

The foundation of philanthropy is innovation and empowering persons to take charge of their destiny with the sole purpose of meeting the deficiency in needs of the general population, resources are given out as a result of philanthropy is directed towards social investment. Resources given out as a result of charity can be best illustrated when a well off person or company dips into his pocket and provides money to mitigate an impending distortion of how life ought to be. An illustration is the corporate social responsibilities taken up by AIG insurance that aim at empowering people especially young entrepreneurs in developing countries, this can be termed as philanthropy. The same company gave out a considerable amount of money to victims of disasters, especially in Asia in a bid to reduce their suffering, this point to charity.

Picket fence federalism is a term used to refer to the application of policies and guidelines at all levels of government with the aim of achieving specific goals and objectives. It is necessary to point out that such policies in a number of instances refer to education, health, infrastructure, urban development, and eradication of unemployment. -An example of the application of picket fence federalism is in Fresno County, especially in the enactment of preschool education strategies for the purpose of enrolling a majority of the children in the county into schools. This procedure is made possible by policies and rules put forth at both higher and lower levels of government. This is then replicated in the whole of central valley and California at large.


Example #3

Public administration refers to the officials, institutions, and processes involved with implementing the laws, rules, and policies passed by legislatures and executives. It was originally a branch of political science, but public administration has developed into a field of study of its own during the 20th century, thanks in part to groundbreaking writings by early scholars in the field. These classic works laid the foundation for a new discipline that combines academic study with professional training for people interested in government careers. In public administration, organizational success largely depends on its structure and leadership.

The consequences of this marked change have been numerous. The focus has been on the potential for social-welfare expenditures to crowd out the traditional functions of government that Smith, Taylor, and others deemed necessary for a well-functioning, free society. The longer these trends continue, the more difficult it will be to change them. The public administration at the state level here in Rhode Island is that the citizens are collecting unemployment or receiving assistance from the state. New policies have been put into place that requires anyone receiving assistance to work for the first thirty days and a set number of hours each week.

In my experience of working with these individuals that will only do what is required and nothing more than that. We have many diverse populations within any workplace and must always adhere to the rules and regulations set before us as to not offend anyone. The field of public administration will always be tough employment. From past experiences even when you are helping it could be looked upon as showing favoritism if your time is not utilized wisely. If one individual feels he is not getting the same as another, then complaints are filed. This is said to be true in diverse populations and every population helps their own.


Example #4

Professionalism is important to understand in the study of public administration. Professionalism is a concept that describes certain types of public agencies as well as the individuals that work for these organizations. Changes in the way that these individuals are regarded may impact the way in which these administrators function. The concept of professionalism means that workers are specially trained in their field. These workers are required to possess a high level of technical expertise. In these types of organizations, authority is not based on rank as much as it is based on professional norms and standards. For the purposes of this paper, we will focus on professionalism as it pertains to education.

Under the new system, appropriately named the performance pay model, teachers would be evaluated by students and administrators. The results of these evaluations would determine how much the teacher would be compensated for their time. It would no longer matter how long a teacher has been teaching or how well the teacher is educated. This would mean that a new teacher could be paid much more than a teacher that has been teaching for many years. This is generally not a good policy in any industry, particularly an industry that is responsible for educating the youth. Likewise, it would mean that it would not matter if a teacher possessed a master’s, or even doctorate, degree or if they held a bachelor’s degree.

Their compensation would be totally based on the rating they received on their evaluations (Sherman 2014). Critics of the performance pay model assert that the concept may lead to a popularity contest. Instead of the highest performing teachers being rewarded it would be the most like teachers being rewarded. They believe that teachers may abandon their professionalism and begin giving A’s away. Whether or not this would be true is yet to be seen. It is, hopefully, a worst-case scenario. However, it could very well happen. This, undoubtedly, would lead to better evaluations from happy students resulting in salary increases for teachers.


Example #5 – Defining Public Administration

When people think about government, they think of elected officials. The attentive public knows these officials who live in the spotlight but not the public administrators who make governing possible; it generally gives them little thought unless it is to criticize “government bureaucrats.” Yet we are in contact with public administration almost from the moment of birth, when registration requirements are met, and our earthly remains cannot be disposed of without final administrative certification. Our experiences with public administrators have become so extensive that our society may be labeled the “administered society”.

Various institutions are involved in public administration. Much of the policy-making activities of public administration is done by large, specialized governmental agencies (micro-administration). Some of them are mostly involved with policy formulation, for example, the Parliament or Congress. But to implement their decisions public administration also requires numerous profit and nonprofit agencies, banks and hospitals, district and city governments (macro-administration). Thus, public administration may be defined as a complex political process involving the authoritative implementation of legitimated policy choices.

Public administration is not as showy as other kinds of politics. Much of its work is quiet, small scale, and specialized. Part of the administrative process is even kept secret. The anonymity of much public administration raises fears that government policies are made by people who are not accountable to citizens. Many fear that these so-called faceless bureaucrats subvert the intentions of elected officials. Others see administrators as mere cogs in the machinery of government. But whether in the negative or positive sense, public administration is policymaking. And whether close to the centers of power or at the street level in local agencies, public administrators are policymakers. They are the translators and tailors of government. If the elected officials are visible to the public, public administrators are the anonymous specialists. But without their knowledge, diligence, and creativity, the government would be ineffective and inefficient.

Historical Overview Of Public Administration. The large-scale administrative organization has existed from early times. The ancient empires of Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome, China, and later the Holy Roman Empire as well as recent colonial empires of Britain, Spain, Russia, Portugal, and France – all organized and maintained political rule over wide areas and large populations by the use of quite a sophisticated administrative apparatus and more or less skilled administrative functionaries. The personal nature of that rule was very great. Everything depended on the emperor. The emperor in turn had to rely on the personal loyalty of his subordinates, who maintained themselves by the personal support from their underlings, down to rank-and-file personnel on the fringes of the empire. The emperor carried an enormous workload reading or listening to petitions, policy arguments, judicial claims, appeals for favors, and the like in an attempt to keep the vast imperial machine functioning.

It was a system of favoritism and patronage. In a system based on personal preferment, a change of emperor disrupted the entire arrangement of government. Those who had been in favor might now be out of favor. Weak rulers followed strong rulers, foolish monarchs succeeded wise monarchs – but all were dependent on the army, which supplied the continuity that enabled the empire to endure so long. In the absence of institutional, bureaucratic procedures, the government moved from stability to near anarchy and back again. The modern administrative system is based on objective norms (such as laws, rules, and regulations) rather than on favoritism It is a system of offices rather than officers.

Loyalty is owed first of all to the state and the administrative organization. Members of the bureaucracy, or large, formal, complex organizations that appeared in recent times, are chosen for their qualification rather than for their personal connections with powerful persons. When vacancies occur by death, resignation, or for other reasons, newly qualified persons are selected according to clearly defined rules. Bureaucracy does not die when its members die.

Business Management And Public Administration. In the studies of the 1880s and later scholars have collected an impressive body of data on how best to carry out and manage routine operations to gain productivity in the industry. Principles of scientific business management were worked out and people were trained to follow them. A later successful business was seen as the model for the proper management of government, and the field of public administration was seen as a field of business because the management of all organizations in both the fields involves planning the activities and establishing goals; organizing work activities; staffing and training; directing or decision-making; coordinating to assure that the various work activities come together; reporting the status of work and problems to both supervisors and subordinates; and budgeting to assure that work activities correspond to fiscal planning, accounting, and control.

Some scholars argued that administration is a more general term and a more generic process than management. Administration takes place at factories, schools, hospitals, prisons, insurance companies, or welfare agencies, whether these organizations were private or public. Accordingly, they started speaking about business and public administration. There is an obvious difference between the administration of business, or private organizations, and the administration of public organizations.

Thus, the word public in ‘public administration’ is meaningful, and the study of public affairs will have to take into account not only management subjects common to both public and private sectors, but also the special environment in which the public servant has to live, an environment constituted of the mix of administration, policymaking, and politics. And then, public organizations are more dependent on government allocations, more constrained by law, more exposed to political influences, and more difficult to evaluate than business organizations. These differences suggest caution in applying business management techniques to government agencies.

Public Administration as an Academic Discipline. Originally the discipline of public administration was not strong on theory. Early public administration was marked by a concern for applying the principles of business management to a higher level of business – public affairs. The method of the case study was borrowed from business schools and applied to public administration. It was a prescriptive method and it told the student what he “ought to do” and what he “should not do” in specific situations of managing public agencies. But by and by public administration developed a theory and a method of investigation of its own. In the 1950s it began to borrow heavily from sociology, political science, psychology, and social psychology that led to the formation of organization theory that helps to understand the nature of human organizations.

Then, the 1950s and 1960s witnessed a dramatic upsurge of professional and academic participation in comparative administration studies. Comparative administration was focused on the developing nations and the analysis of “transitional societies”. Considerable attention was paid to studies of particular areas of the world. There were detailed case-by-case examinations of administrative situations in both the developing countries and the older, established bureaucracies of the industrialized world. They developed elaborate and highly generalized models of development administration and managed to explain many development situations. Another situation that has drawn from the management science traditions is the emergence of public policy analysis as a major branch of public administration studies. Writings on decision-making took into account economic, political, psychological, historical, and even nonrational, or irrational processes.

The National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) advocates public policy analysis as one of the subject areas that should be included in any comprehensive program in administration. An interesting development in American public administration in the late 1960s is known as the New Public Administration which was a reaction against the value-free positivism that had characterized much of American public administration thought since World War II. It reasserted the importance of normative values, particularly social justice. The disclosures of the Watergate scandals have reinforced these positions and stressed anew the importance of integrity, openness, and accountability in the conduct of public affairs.

This concern for the needs of human beings in the modern world can be seen in the growth of consumer and environmental protection functions domestically, and pressure for human rights around the world. The politics of public administration becomes increasingly interesting. Citizens, students, and scholars all around the world have come to understand the enormous impact of public administration on all of us, which is an important reason for the renaissance of their interest in public administration.

Some Theoretical Aspects of Public Administration. Though there are different approaches to the field of public administration, this interdisciplinary subject nowadays has a quite strong theory that tries to take into account not only management subjects, but also the mix of administration, policymaking, and politics. Let us consider some issues of this theory and start with organization theory common to both the public and private sectors.

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The Basic Aspects of Organization Theory. The terms public and private convey very different connotations to the general public. Public organizations are commonly pictured as large mazes that employ bureaucrats to create red tape; private organizations, on the other hand, are viewed to be run by hard-nosed managers who worry about profit and consumers. Public organizations are pictured as wasteful; private organizations are often presented as efficient. Yet these perceptions of their differences do not withstand careful scrutiny. Both types of organizations have much in common.

Organization as Bureaucracy. Whether in business or government organizations, a dominant form of any administration is bureaucracy. Bureaucracies are generally defined as organizations that (1) are large, (2) hierarchical in structure with each employee accountable to the top executive through a chain of command, (3) provide each employee with a clearly defined role and area of responsibility, (4) base their decisions on impersonal rules, and (5) hire and promote employees taking into account their skills and training related to specific jobs. Bureaucracy has promise but it may also create problems and abuses of power, especially in the absence of effective coordination.

Organization as a Dynamic Change. Then, both public and private organizations have a dilemma – the need for both stability and change. All organizations resist change as organizational change is often painful and destructive. Despite the need for new ideas, new approaches, and new types of employees, stability needs usually dominate in organizations. And the forces of stability are stronger in public organizations. These institutions are generally insulated from survival concerns by legal mandates. Few of them declare bankruptcy despite serious doubts about their efficiency.

Organization as Human Relations. Both organizations, especially public organizations, are crowded with individuals. Individuals bring to organizations a complex mix of needs (both fundamental needs, as food, shelter, health care, and future security which are bought with money earned through work, and our highest spiritual needs to belong to a social group and to contribute to it, the need of self-actualization, esteem, and recognition). To attract and keep people and to encourage dependable and innovative performance, organizations must take into account individual needs and motivation and satisfy them. Organizations should also make a system of various rewards that are powerful incentives for above-average performance.

Pay, promotions, recognition, and other rewards are distributed by managerial staff. Social rewards like friendship, conversation, impact, satisfaction received from meaningful work appear in the process of work itself. The social rewards of some jobs are more obvious than others. Jobs with greater variety, responsibility, and challenge are inherently more rewarding while routine can generate a lack of interest and boredom, and managers should take it into account.

Organization as a Structure of Subgroups. Most work in organizations depends on an ensemble rather than a solo effort and is a mix of collaboration and interdependence. There are two basic groups in organizations: formal and informal. Formal groups (departments, committees) are identified and selected by organizational leaders, and their major characteristics are organizational legitimacy and task orientation. Informal groups (sports groups, common lunch hours, etc.) are not created by management but evolve out of the rich social environment. Though people in these groups get together to share common interests, not to work, their activities in them (supporting friends, trading rumors, and so on) have a profound effect on work and are as important as formal assignments.

Organization as a Cultural Product. Organizations have not only tangible dimensions such as an office building, an organizational chart, products and services, specific individuals, and groups. Organizations are cultural and meaning systems as well as places for work. The concept of culture is difficult to define. But when comparing organizations in different countries, their cultural differences are extremely vivid and important. Despite similar work and procedures, police departments, for example, in India, Germany and Japan differ greatly. Offering a small gift to a policeman may be considered corruption in one nation and a sign of respect in another. Organizations are also meaning systems as they provide meaning to our lives.

Feelings and emotions as well as purpose are very important to the work-life of an organization. The despair of the unemployed goes deeper than financial worries; many feel lost, without significance. Both culture and emotions influence structure, effectiveness, and change in organizations. Organizations are not only places of production; they are also sites rich with symbols and bureaucrats and executives act as tribal leaders: they tell stories, repeat myths, and stage rites and ceremonials. The symbolic and cultural dimensions of organizations are increasingly viewed as essential to understanding individual organizations and their role in society.

The Environment of Public Administration. When many people think of public administration as an activity, they visualize large offices crammed with rows of faceless bureaucrats sitting at desks and producing an endless stream of paperwork. But this view captures only a few of the important things that professional civil servants actually do. Public administration also has many more participants, such as the executive, the legislature, the courts, and organized groups, which are involved in the formulation and implementation of public policy. And if a public administrator focuses the attention on only some of them then others may become neglected and that may lead to the jeopardy of the entire program. Summing up what has been said, it is important to underline that the theory of public administration is very diverse, is rapidly developing, and depends much on what we know about why humans behave as they do when they interact with each other.

Public Administration Personnel: Role-types, Role Conflicts, Role Overloads. Large organizations employ many individuals. Charismatic leaders, caring supervisors, innovative program directors, and numerous street-level employees lend individuality to the collective and character to the whole organization. One should also remember that higher moral and ethical standards are expected of public employees than of private employees and that public managers work within very strict limits of legislation, executive orders, and regulations surrounding government. But unique contributions of individuals do not obscure their general patterns of behavior, or roles. A role is a predictable set of expectations and behaviors associated with an office or position. Like an actor assigned a part, cabinet secretaries, police officers, and policy analysts step into roles that are already largely defined. A person usually performs several roles and it may become a source of stress and overload. Role overload is more than just too much work or overwork.

Role overload exists when the demands of various roles overwhelm an individual’s ability to balance expectations when the demands of one role make it difficult to fulfill the demands of others. The lawyer who must cancel an appointment to care for a sick child or the professor who neglects his students to fulfill administrative obligations is experiencing a role conflict. Viewing the organization as a system of roles helps to identify the rights and obligations of each employee. Roles provide the consistency that holds an organization together. An organization that falls apart when individuals leave has not built an adequate structure of roles. Although public organizations contain many specific roles, five role-types – the political executive, desktop administrator, professional, street-level bureaucrat, and policy entrepreneur – are the most common.

Political executives. Political executives (the secretary of a State Department, the city manager, or the county administrator) occupy the top of public organizations. Although their jobs and responsibilities are different, they all perform the functions of a political aide, policymaker, and top administrator. In most cases, political executives are political appointees – elected officials give them their jobs. That is why, their position, their tenure, and their influence while in office derive from the authority of elected officials. The official who wins the election most commonly appoints loyal supporters. They are advisors for selected officials. Elected officials cannot do everything. They can do little more than point the general direction and scrutinize the final result. That is why political executives appointed by them are also policymakers.

The political executive initiates, shapes, promotes and oversees policy changes. They may also have responsibility for major decisions. The ultimate authority, however, rests with the elected official. Political executives are also top-level administrators. It is a difficult role. Public executives are legally responsible for implementing policy They must cut through the red tape, the resistance of change, intra-organizational conflict to assure that the public is served well.. Those political executives who fail to reach down and get the support and enthusiasm of their agency personnel will effect little change in policy. But if they completely disregard the preferences, knowledge, and experience of their agencies, a stalemate ensues. If they uncritically adopt the views of their elected officials or their agencies, they may lose influence with elected officials.

Desktop administrators. Desktop administrators are career civil servants down the hierarchy a few steps from political executives. They are middle managers and closely fit the general description of a bureaucrat. Whether a social worker supervisor or the director of a major government program, the desktop administrator spends days filled with memoranda and meetings. The desktop administrators are torn between the promises and practicality of governing. Desk administrators guide policy intentions into policy actions that actually change, for better or worse, people’s life. If there is, for example, a public and political consensus that the government should assist poor blind people, the definition worked out by a desktop administrator to answer the question of who is poor and who is blind, has a dramatic influence on the nature of the program.

Desktop administrators differ fundamentally from political executives in that most of them are career civil servants. After a short probation period, most earn job tenure and usually are not fired. Tenure insulates the civil service from direct political interference in the day-to-day working of the government. Job tenure protects civil servants from losing their jobs, but they may be reassigned to less important jobs of equal rank if they lose favor with political executives.

Professionals. Professionals make up the third major role-type in public organizations. The original meaning of the term profession was a ceremonial vow made when joining a religious community. This vow followed years of training and some certification that the acquired knowledge and appropriate norms of behavior justified an individual’s initiation. Modern professionals receive standard specific training that ends with certification. They also learn the values and norms of behavior. Increasingly the work of public organizations depends on professionals and more and more professionals are involved in public administration.

The work of professionals involves applying their general knowledge to the specific case and requires considerable autonomy and flexibility. An important difference between professional and non-professional work is who evaluates performance. Nonprofessionals are evaluated by their immediate supervisors. Professionals assert their independence from supervisors. Their work is evaluated by peer review of their colleagues and that has flaws: fellow professionals are sometimes more willing to overlook the mistakes of colleagues for different reasons.

Street-level Bureaucrats. Street-level bureaucrats (social workers, police officers, public school teachers, public health nurses, job and drug-counselors, etc.) are at the bottom or near the bottom of public organizations. Their authority does not come from rank, since they are at the bottom of the hierarchy, but from the discretionary nature of their work. They deal with people and people are complex and unpredictable, they are not the same and require individual attention. A common complaint about public bureaucrats is that they treat everyone like a number; they ignore unique problems and circumstances. But there are only general guidelines on how to deal with people (an abusive parent, an arrested, poor, old, or sick person), and it is impossible to write better guidelines to make everyone happy. The street-level administrator must use judgment to apply rules and laws to unique situations, and judgment requires discretion.

Given limited resources, public organizations want fewer, not more clients, and this is an important difference between public and private organizations, which attract more clients to earn more profit. And the dependence of clients on street-level bureaucrats often creates conflicts. Street-level bureaucrats work in situations that defy direct supervision. Even when supervisors are nearby, much work with clients is done privately. Most paperwork and computerized information systems attempt to control street-level bureaucrats, who in turn become skilled in filling out forms to satisfy supervisors while maintaining their own autonomy. Street-level bureaucrats are also policy-makers. They often decide what policies to implement, their beliefs can affect their work with clients, they may interpret the policy to benefit clients and vice versa, and thus they may change the policy while implementing it.

Policy Entrepreneurs. The policy entrepreneur is generally considered to be the charismatic person at the top, though they can exist at all levels of an organization. They are strongly committed to specific programs and are strong managers. They are skilled in gathering support and guiding an idea into reality. The role requires conceptual leadership, strategic planning, and political activism. This role is both necessary and dangerous. They take risks and push limits, which is necessary for a dynamic government, but they also bend rules and sometimes lead policy astray.

Personnel Administration: Staffing and Training The Agency
An important task in the management of any enterprise, private or public, is the recruiting, selecting, promoting, and terminating of personnel and employee training.

Recruiting. Once jobs have been created, the recruitment starts, i.e. finding people to fill those jobs. Public administration in the United States has come a long way from the time of Andrew Jackson, when, in the popular view, government jobs could be performed by any individuals (or at least any men) with normal intelligence. Under Jackson and his successors, frequent rotation on the office was encouraged; no particular prior training or experience was necessary for most jobs. Merit systems were designed for the most part to keep out the grossly incompetent, not to attract the highly qualified.

Gradually, the pattern changed. The government began attracting especially competent applicants. Openings were more highly publicized, recruiting visits were made to college and university campuses, and wages were made more nearly competitive with those in the private sector. Active efforts were made to attract individuals who, in earlier times, would have been excluded from public employment because of their ethnic or racial backgrounds or because they were women.

Examining and selecting. Once applications have been received, the next step in the personnel process is examination. The term examination does not refer only to a pencil-and-paper test. Some judgments are made on the basis of an unassembled examination. That is, the application form itself may require sufficient information to permit the assignment of a score based on reported experience and education and on references. Another possibility, especially important for jobs requiring particular skills, is performance examination. Some jobs call for an oral examination, particularly those for which communication skills are especially important. One examination of special importance is the Professional and Administrative Career Examination (PACE).

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PACE is intended to select candidates for federal government careers rather than for particular jobs. The personnel agency (e.g. Civil Service Commission) considers the list with the names of the individuals with the highest examination scores from which it chooses the new employee. Considerable discretion is allowed in making the final choice. Following selection, the new employee is likely to serve a probationary period, often six months, during which removal is relatively easy. Personnel managers encourage supervisors to see this as an extension of the testing procedure, but few employees are, in fact, dismissed during this period.

Evaluation. The evaluation of employee performance is a further personnel function. Recently, the trend has been to formalize rating schemes and to regularize feedback to employees. Where possible, objective measures of the work completed are employed. In jobs where this is not possible, supervisors are encouraged to judge performance as accurately as possible using impressionistic techniques. By supplying a continuing record of performance, such evaluation can protect employees from the capricious actions of a subjective supervisor.

Continuing education in public service. The government is deeply involved with the further education and training of the employees. This involvement may range from relatively simple, in-house training sessions – even on-the-job training – to the financing of undergraduate or graduate education. Many universities, in cooperation with government agencies, have developed special programs for public employees, and the courses typically lasting for a week, maybe conducted either at a university campus or at an agency site. The Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia, established in 1968, operated by the Civil Service Commission, provides managerial training for high-level federal executives. The commission also has regional training centers located throughout the country. Public personnel is also often given leaves for a semester or a year by their agency to pursue a degree at the doctoral level (the Doctor of Public Administration) or to fulfill a master’s program.

Elements And Models Of A Decision-making Process. We all make decisions all the time. Some are small; some will have ramifications throughout our lives. Sometimes we make snap judgments that in retrospect seem wise. Other times we carefully weigh the pros and cons but are betrayed by fate. Often the most important decisions are nondecisions: we put things off, choose to ignore problems or to avoid situations or people, and later discover that inaction has consequences just as important as those resulting from the action.

Four processes of decision-making. Whether small or large, short- or long-term, studied or impulsive, decision-making involves four major elements: problem definition, information search, choice, and evaluation. They are not sequential, they occur simultaneously. And it is often difficult to identify when a decision process begins and ends as the most important choices are ongoing.

Problem definition. The first step in defining a problem is recognizing that it exists. Then, problems are plentiful; attention is scarce. Selecting a problem for attention and placing it on the policy agenda is the most important element in policymaking. When a problem is given attention, it gains focus and takes shape. How a problem is defined affects how it is addressed. The problem of the homeless is a good example. The people without a home have always been with us. Most often they have been seen as people who because of their own weaknesses could not find work and afford homes.

They were dismissed as drunks and drifters. So defined, the homeless remained a problem in the background – a problem for the Salvation Army, not the government. But as their number grew, we began to take a closer look. We saw individuals discharged from mental institutions, the unemployed whose benefits had expired, and families unable to afford a decent home. And we started seeing “the homeless” as people in desperate situations. This change in our perception altered the decision process. Homelessness is now a focus of policy debate.

Information search. When we are only vaguely aware that a problem exists, our first step is often to learn more about it, and this learning is an important step in decision-making. Acid rain is a good example. First in Europe and then in North America, people noticed that trees were dying, and a few scientists began to ask why. Pollution and changes in climate were explored. Out of this active search for information, the problem gained definition: air pollution is killing trees. Then, the solutions were considered. Reducing acid rains requires a costly reduction in pollution created in regions often at a great distance from the dying trees. Thus, the information defined the nature of the policy-making.

The information has always been central to governing, and governments are primary sponsors of research both in the sciences and humanities. Such research is driven by the interests of scholars and may not have immediate relevance to policy debate. But it may have important policy implications. For example, advances in lasers and genetic engineering influence defense and social policy in ways unanticipated by scientists or their government sponsors.

Choice. As problems are defined and information about problems and outcomes is examined, choices emerge. Weighing options and selecting are the most visible decision-making processes. Sometimes choices are difficult and taking decisions is very hard, especially when choices are not clear and their results are unpredictable. Should we negotiate with terrorists? Do we want to save the lives of hostages, as family members prefer, or do we want to eliminate any incentive for future terrorism? The selection process does not necessarily require reasoned judgments; the compromises of group decision-making often produce results that only a few individuals prefer; satisfying single interests often means ignoring the interests of others.

Evaluation. Decisions do not end with choices among alternatives. Decision-making involves evaluating the effects and actions. The evaluation may be formal (an official study of the results produced by a new government program) or informal (scanning the news, talking to colleagues). Whether formal or informal, evaluation is another form of information gathering after the choice. The distinction between information search and evaluation is arbitrary. Before decision-makers reach conclusions, most try to anticipate outcomes. The most difficult aspect of evaluating choices in establishing the criteria.

The most common criterion is the result – if things turn out well we feel that we made the right choice. But in this case, we may confuse good luck with good decision-making (consider the decision to have surgery: all surgery involves risk, and if a person chooses to take the very slight risk to remove a small tumor and dies during surgery, was the decision wrong?). Results are not universal criteria for the quality of a decision. The evaluation of any decision-making must involve looking at results and processes as well as the situation faced by decision-makers.

Models of decision-making. There is no right or wrong way to make decisions. Sometimes cautious deliberation is the best path; at other times risks are required. But scholars speak about two broad categories of models of decision-making: rational and nonrational models. Rational decisions are choices based on the judgment of preferences and outcomes. They are not always turn out best and they do not eliminate the possibility of failure. Sometimes the goal is so important that it is rational to choose an option with little promise of a payoff. Opting for experimental surgery is a rational choice over a life of pain.

In nonrational models, choices do not result from the deliberate balancing of pros and cons. These models share the assumption that the mix of rules and participants shape choices, and that decisions result from the varying (though not necessarily accidental) mix of ingredients. Most governmental decisions are within these models. The decision process there is too complex to take into account multiple goals, alternatives, and impacts of every alternative; the time required to make a decision is too short; the finances are too thin to provide long researches.

Taken to extremes, rational models reduce the human judgment to computation, and nonrational models portray decision outcomes as the result of forces beyond individual control. Both rational and nonrational models of the decision process are products of value-neutral social science. Values enter rational decision models only in the form of preferences, but they are generally defined in terms of self-interest. An emerging view of decision-making places a stronger emphasis on decisions as to value statements.


Example #6

Once the government came to the realization that it has the responsibility to meet the needs of the citizens, Public Administration was shaped. When this theory was first brought into fruition it was tested and modified in many different ways in order to find the perfect way to “Administrate”. This testing lasted through the middle of the 20th century. Then there was a man by the name of Herbert Simon that figured out why none of these theories were found to be the best way. Public Administration is such an art that there is no certain way to do it. There are no specific directions to follow in order to succeed in this field.

In 1957 a man named Herman Finer argued that there were too many “rules of accountability on Public Administrators. His argument was such that it had been divided into three representations. They were rationality, Platonism, and realism. Civil Rights then came into the picture around the 1960s and called for an innovative model of public administration. The reason for this was that WWII had ended and GI’s needed government jobs. Public Administration has a short history and it only proves that it is still changing and molding to the needs of society.

There are seven important elements in Public Administration. Strategic planning, benchmarking for best practices, performance measurement, using performance results, performance-based budgeting, contracting for performance, and creating and sustaining a supportive environment. All of these elements have everything to do with Performance measurement. This is a key operating procedure in public administration. From this stems the measuring everything from government branches to the performance of school systems.


Example #7

To become a public administrator, you must have the ability to work with different people from different backgrounds, different age groups, and various economic classes. A Public administrator cannot be biased towards one group of people and turn around and be favorable towards the other. As an administrator, you have to be transparent to everybody that you encounter, even people that you will be working with, and people that you are working for. According to the publication, “Ethical Dilemmas in the Public Service,” by the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management, describes that the ethical issue that government officials face in any organization is nepotism and bias.

The reason why this event occurs is that some of the individuals in the public administrative positions are not transparent in the workplace and are also influenced by personal gain. According to the ethical dilemma on one of the cases that I found on NYTimes, they denied jobs to people around the age of 50 and older who applied to because of their age. According to the article, “You’re How Old? We’ll be in touch,” the organization’s reason behind this is because the applicant was too old. It is unethical to deny jobs because most of these people have a passion for working in jobs that they are applying to because they qualify. In this case, the organization wants people who are younger and faster.


Example #8 – interesting idea

Public administration is, broadly speaking, the study and implementation of the policy. As a moral endeavor, public administration is linked to pursuing the public good through the creation of civil society and social justice. The adjective ‘public’ often denotes ‘government’, though it increasingly encompasses nonprofit organizations such as those of civil society or any entity and its management not specifically acting in self-interest. The term public administration sometimes is taken to refer narrowly to government bureaucracy.

Public administration is the “MBA” counterpart for the public sector. Politicians merely vote on establishment and funding allocation for various agencies and programs within those agencies. But public administrators have the training to run the programs which the politicians have established and allocated funds (whatever the amount of funding).

Unlike the politician who might have an interest in an area but develops a general background in many different fields while in office, the public administrator has to possess a specialized background in their department to prove they are effectively and successfully utilizing the public funds which were allocated to properly run the public department which they work in: They have the credentials for the position which they were hired on for.

Your government runs on public administration. Politicians are only the figureheads – most of the control of your society, around 70%+, is done through regulation by public servants and not through legislation. Politicians make the legislation – public servants make the regulations to govern that legislation. they also give the information and advice back to the government on how it operates and how well (or otherwise) it operates. I would like you to think about this apparent contradiction here – possibly a conflict of interest.

Consider this as well. Public service departments (etc) are subordinate to politicians set to handle their purview – they are NOT directly subject to that politician. What this means is that while a politician can hand out a general policy, the public service body handles it for itself, and it is, in fact, one of the ‘checks and balances’ of a democratic society that the public service retains its independence. What this means is that in a democratic society – a mandated politician does not command that public service body as he/she sees fit.

Public Administration – The implementation of govt policy. Serving the public by a government body. Private business for the most is for profit – not a service paid for by the government. Private business does not exist for the good of the people as its primary goal. Profit is the primary goal.

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