The field of public administrationis a relatively new field, and yet its evolution has been exponential. Thisfield has greatly adapted to the many thoughts and theories of some of thegreatest thinkers of our time. It is their interpretations, and suggestions ofimprovement that led change build upon change to successfully result in thefield we have today. Undoubtedly, public Administration and management hasprogressed over time.
In this paper, we review a few pioneers in publicadministration, and the core principles that lay the footprints, and ultimatelythe groundwork for the expansion of public administration. We begin with Woodrow Wilson’s”Study of Administration”, which details and explains the reasons why publicadministration needs to be studied and how public administration should beviewed. He labeled it.
It is in fact only after we label something, give it aname, that we then provide it with importance. Once it is acknowledged, inorder to study it we must investigate into its origins, its history toestablish its past. That allows a better understanding of the present, and thatdetermines the significance of the changes we can make here, in the present, inorder to result improvement for the future. Wilson did just that. By labelingpublic administration, thinkers, politicians, and administrators took to studythis new field. This laid the groundwork for its growth, and the later theoriesthat followed.
Wilson made some of the basicprinciples of public administration. The earliest, and most important was theseparation of politics from administration in the public sector. It is afterthis declaration that we can analyze the later theories and how they build uponeach other to yield modern day public administration. In this paper, we willlook at the progression and theories used to advance the field of publicadministration. We will do so by understanding Goodnow’s “Politics andAdministration”, which further divides politics and administration. After beingable to recognize how politics and administration can be two separate entities,we will further look at management practices and how they can be implementedinto the public sector. By obtaining a better understanding of Maslow’s “Theoryof Human Motivation” and using those concepts to understand how Theory X andTheory Y (McGregor) can be interpreted. As we dive further into managementpractices, we will look at Frederickson’s work of “Toward a New PublicAdministration”, which refines the duties of public sector and what servicesshould be provided by our government.
Woodrow Wilson wanted to look atpublic administration as a business. Wilson stated that politics andadministration should be two separate entities. The goal of his ideas was to beas efficient and cost effective as possible. This is where we begin to see theprivate sector management practices used in the public sector. Current researchshows that although in theory politics and administration should be maintainedseparately, 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 bySvara, illustrates that the separation of politics from administration areindubitably connected.
The study explains, that “administrators help to shapepolicy, and they give it specific content and meaning in the process ofimplementation.” It continues to point out the “elected officials overseeimplementation, probe specific complaints about poor performance, and attemptto correct the problems with performance through fine-tuning” (Svara, 2001).Svara argues that both administration and elected politicians should help eachother in the policy making process. Ultimately the two share manysimilar goals, and represent the will of the people. It is important that theyfacilitate each other’s work, and to neve become an impediment to acquiring thegoals they have set out to accomplish. It is from a place of politicalcorruption that we have observed the need for a separation of powers, duties,and control. We must expect the entities to work separately to uphold itspurity, and maintain its promise to adhere to the wishes and requests of thepeople it represents. Goodnow was able to identify thedichotomy of politics and administration.
Goodnow believed that the executionof the states’ will needed to be carried out by three authorities: thejudicial, executive, and administrative branches. He was able to realize that”there were two functions of the government: the expression of the popular willand the execution of that will” (Tahmasebi).Both Goodnow and Wilson wanted the separation of politics and administrationsolely for the purpose of not allowing politics to play a role inadministrative decisions such as policy making. It was an attempt to limitcorruption, and allow administration to be stand on its own two feet.
These ideas were accepted and werecontinued to be build upon. Taylor, for example, brought about the theory ofScientific management. Scientific management brought about ideas on how toimprove efficiency in the workplace. Taylor was one of the first people toapply science into the idea of management. Taylor first sought out to replaceworking by “rule of thumb,” with hard data that would maximize efficiency inthe workplace. Secondly, he stated that workers should be trained in particulartasks to amplify the efficiency. Thirdly, Taylor believed that managers mustmonitor the workers performance, stating that employees work most efficientwhen they are being watched. Lastly, Taylor believed it would be most efficientif the work is divided between supervisors and their workers.
Although Taylor was able to graspsome important aspects in workplace efficiency, the fault in the theory is thatworkers are not a science, and therefore there a multitude of variables thatare unaccounted for in his theory. Taylor’s management style was geared a little more towards the businessaspect of management. Scientific management is difficult to be used as one ofthe main theories to help stricture the public sector, because one of thefounding principles is the idea that employees are motivated by making money.
After reviewing Taylor’s theorieson scientific management, we look at Maslow’s view of public administration.Contrary to Taylor’s theories, Maslow attempted to view management practicesthrough human motivations instead of using scientific management. Maslow theorizedthat 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 theother needs. In other words, each need must be satisfied in order to want tosatisfy the need above that one. For example, if some feels hungry, or isfearful for their life, they will need to satisfy those needs first such aseat, 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 asfriendships, wife/husband, having children. Self-Esteem needs are categorizedinto two needs: The self-esteem for oneself and the reputation from otherpeople. Having self-esteem provides the person with confidence and achievement.
Self-Actualization needs are considered fulfilled when the person realizestheir own potential. Maslow placed these needs in a hierarchy, stating thateach is necessary to fulfill the next step. Maslow’s ideas are still relevanttoday, work environments needs to be able to feed to these motivations thatemployees have (Jerome, 2013).
These are principles that are deeply tied to thepsychological understanding of people, and how they interact in any worksetting. It is one of the most widely applicable theories.McGregor provided the field ofpublic administration with practicing theories of management, Theory Y andTheory X. Theory X consists of the idea that the employee does not enjoy thework that has to be done, they want to avoid the responsibilities of the taskat hand, and are generally not as responsible. Theory X type of managementrequires the employee’s direct supervision to make sure that the work is beingconducted. Theory Y is more of an open form of management, with the idea thatemployees enjoy their work, are committed fully to their work, and areself-directed. This type of management style allows the employees more freedomto finish their work without a threat of punishment.
The two styles of management arestill in use today, with generally, Theory X being seen in government agencies.Government agencies are known to use theory X management styles because of thenecessity to achieve social equity. Even though Theory X is generally seen ingovernment, management practices can be divided even further as you researchdepartments within the government. Theory Y is largely spotted in the techcompanies seen, where employees spend hundreds of hours at work. Companies thatincorporate theory Y, such as Google, Amazon, and other tech companies, provideits employees with a relaxed and independent environment. I would like to go in depth into McGregor’smanagement theories.
A study conducted by Mohamed, arguing that Theory Ymanagers and companies generally have better performance and results incomparisons to Theory X managers and companies (Mohamed, 2013). He states thatTheory Y management style is more of a democratic style of management, whileTheory X is more of an autocratic style of management. I believe that Theory Ymanagement style and practices need to be used more in the field of publicadministration. If you are able to provide the proper culture in the workenvironment in the public sector, you will be able to achieve more ashypothesized by the Theory Y management practice view. Frederickstated that new publicadministration adds social equity to the classic objectives and rationale.These objects are efficiency, economical, and coordinated management.
Socialequity can be defined as society having equal access to the social goods andservices. As the views of public administration progress, the questions changedfrom how can we offer better services with the available resources, to adifferent question, asking, how can we maintain the level of services whilespending less to the new public administration. New Public administration uses socialequity by seeking not only to carry out legislative mandates as efficiently andeconomically as possible, but rather to both influence and execute policieswhich improve the quality of life for all its citizens within that society. Theanswer 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 providedby the public sector. The evolution of the goals for public administrativeevolved to efficient without sacrificing the quality, distribution of workwhile maintaining fairness, and executing public policies while sustainingjustice.
Frederickson focused on the subjective measures of success. As we progress through the years,public administration and research has been increasing their attention toinnovation. Innovations consists of new ideas and practices implemented intothe work environment. In a study conducted by De Vries, Bekkers, and Tummers, theyfound that innovations took place primarily in the local government section ofthe public sectors. In the local levels, “the most effective elements werefound to consist of planning measures and the organizational flexibility oflocal governments” (De Vries, 2016).
I believe that local governments have themost innovations in terms of adaptations to new management practices due to themore Theory Y manner in comparisons to larger government sections. Smaller public-sectorgovernment departments need to higher the most talented personnel and are morecompact in terms of keeping the proper work environment in place. In conclusion, it is clear that thefield of public administration has been shaped by a multitude of ideas. Itscore has been developed and the structure has been further developed by some ofthese concepts. It is expected that growth will continue, and we look to newideas in order to push this field to become as efficient and as ideal as itcould be.
As the field of public administration continues to progress, we cantake some of these ideas and build upon them to make suggestions in even in thepresent. Some of these ideas are thepossible implementation of Theory X and how it can potentially be used incertain areas of public administration, with the hope of cradling thecreativity of certain sectors, and augment productivity. It is imperative thatwe take all of these ideas with a grain of salt. It is always a good idea tobreak down these suggestions, and take the pieces that work. It is notnecessary to take the ideas as a whole, but the parts that make sense.
Eventhen, we could take some parts and work on them more, and develop them intopotentially improved versions with a higher likelihood of success ifimplemented. Therefore, it is imperative that we implement the good parts ofthe theories and understand why the bad ones are not successful. As a review, the evolution of thefield of administration is much broader than presented in this paper, but thehighlights presented here, have truthfully acted as the pillars of this fieldthat have kept it from crumbling, and in truth have raised into a broad complexfield where we hope to continue to improve. Woodrow Wilson labeled the field of administration, and called out toothers and stated the merit in studying this field. We have now looked through thepast, observed and analyzed its growth, and now we can presently use thisknowledge to create and hypothesize theories with hopes of improvement.
Becauseof these thinkers and their work, we have been able to separate politics fromadministration, find efficiency in the work place through various theories, andeventually keep progressing towards an ever-changing field of publicadministration. The public sector must be able to find management practicesused in the private sector, while separating the politics of it, and implementthem in ways that will serve the citizens of the country, state, or locallevels.