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September 2, 2009

Meaning,Scope and Signicance of

Public Administration

Meanings of the term

The word `administer' is derived from the Latin word administere, which
means to look after people or to manage aairs. Administration may be dened
as  group activity which involves cooperation and coordination for the purpose
of achieving desired goals or objectives  .The term administration bear at least
four dierent meanings depending upon the context in which it is used:

1. As a Discipline: The name of a branch of learning or intellectual disci-

pline as taught and studied in colleges and universities

2. As a Vocation: Type of work or profession, especially one that involves

knowledge and training in a branch of advance learning

3. As a Process: The sum total of activities undertaken to implement pub-

lic policy(ies) or to produce some services or goods.

4. As a Synonym for 'word' Executive or Government: Such other body

of persons in supreme charge of aairs, for example, Manmohan Singh Ad-
ministration, Bush Administration, etc.

Integral View VS Managerial View

Integral View Managerial View

Administration is the Only managerial or
sum-total of the whole supervisory activities
complex of activities , constitute administration.
manual,clerical, technical According to it,
and managerial wich are administration is not
undertaken to realize the doing things but getting
objective in view. things done.
The administration diers As per managerial view the
from one eld (say public administration means only
health) to another (say the management techniques
education)according to and methods such as
the subject matter. planning, organisation,
co-ordination, direction,
nancial control etc., which
are common core of all
cooperative endeavours and
do not dier according to
subject matter-elds.
Wilson, Dimmock, White, Luther Gullick, Herbert
Fayol Simon, Smithburg and
Z A Wieg- In simplest Luther Gullick-
terms, administration is Administration has to do
determined action taken in with getting things done;
pursuit of a common with the accomplishment of
purpose dened objectives

Diereces between the two

According to Prof. M.P. Sharma the dierence between the two views is

1. Integral view includes the activities of all the persons engaged in admin-
istration whereas the managerial view restricts itself only to the activities
of the few persons at the top

2. Integral view depicts all types of activities from manual to managerial,

from non-technical to technical whereas the managerial view takes into
account only the managerial activities in an organisation

3. Administration, according to the integral view would dier from one sphere
to another depending upon the subject matter, whereas the managerial
view is identied with the managerial techniques common to all the elds
of administration

Analysis of Integral View
Under this exhaustive view, the scop of PA becomes so vast that it does not
lend itself easy to study as there are unlimited numbers of eld.

Analysis of Managerial View


• Conforms to the common man's notion of administration

• Gives administration a pointedness, unity and a distinctive characterstics


• Too arbitrary and abstract

• Planning, organisation,coordination and other managerial activities are

not carried out in vaccum. It may be possible to separate management
form what is managed, but such separation vitiates the realistic character
of administrative study.

• It misses the real heart of administration. The real core of administration

is not the method of management, but the service that it renders

Comparison and Conclusion

Dicult to give any dogmatic conclusion. If considered as a concrete activity,
administration includes all types of works necessay to achieve the desired goal,
but considered as a skill it implies adeptness in the management functions.

Dimock, Dimock and Koening sum up in the following words:  As

a study public administration examines every aspect of government's
eorts to discharge the laws and to give eect to public policy; as
a process, it is all the steps taken between the time an enforcement
agency assumes jurisdiction and the last break is placed (but includes
also that agency's participation, if any, in the formulation of the
programme in the rst place); and as a vocation, it is organising
and directing the activities of others in a public agency.

Heri Fayol study

Quantum of a particular type of work depnds on position in the organisational

Operative Administrative Managerial Other Techniques

Top Level 85% 10% 5%

Middle Level 10% 85% 5%
Lower 5% 10% 85%

Merriam and Fayol: Opposite Views
Merriam- Dierences between administrative positions are of more
practical signicance than similarities

Fayol- Skill that is required in industry, government as well as

home management, and the administrative process is universally

Public Administration

PA is an aspect of the larger eld of Administration. The adjective 'public' in PA

means that it focusses on public bureaucracy, i.e., bureaucratic organisation (or
administrative organisation) of the government. Dierence among the various
denitions of PA centre around two crucial points-:

1. Whether PA is coterminous with the government activity as a whole, or

is conned only to the executive branch

2. Whether administration is whole complex of activities relating to a pur-

pose or the special activity of the management common to all the elds
of cooperative endeavours

Wider View of Administration but Narrower View of Scope

of PA
LD White- PA consists of all those operations having for their
purpose the fulllment or enforcement of public policy as declared
by the competent authority

Narrower View of Administration and Narrower View of

Scope of PA
Merson- According to him administration consists of getting things
done and is concerned with 'how policies may best be carried into

Narrower View of Administration but Wider View of Scope

of PA
Luther Gullick- Public administration is that part of the science
of administration, which has to do with the government; it concerns
itself primarily with the executive branch where the work of the
government is done; though there are obviously problems also in
connection with the legislative and judicial branches.

Wider View of Administration and Wider View of Scope
of PA
Dimmock- Public Administration is concerned with `what' and
`how' of the government. The `what' is the subject matter, the
technical knowledge of a eld, which enables the administrator to
perform his tasks. The `how' is the technique of management, the
principles according to which co-operative programmes are carried
through to success. Each is indispensable, together they form the
synthesis called administration

Executive Only or Not (Politics-Administration Dichotomy)

• The dichotomy between policy formulation and policy execution is only
an abstract distinction which does not correspond to the realities of the
administrative situation.

• In actual administration, an administrator is concerned with policy for-

mulation as well as its execution

• Political heads of the government lay down policies only in bare outline,
where administrators have to supply the necessary data, suggestions and
criticisms to put it in the proper shape. Such amendments emanate from
the ocials who, in the light of their day-to-day experience discover what
changes or modications are needed

• Problems of administration even in its narrowest sense are not conned

to the executive branch of the administration only. (Summoning sessions
of legislature, carrying the bill to statue book etc. ; judicial work also
involves supervision, inspection and control of lower courts, appointments,
promotions ans oce management)

Wilson's Argument For Separating PA and Polit-

ical Science

1. Political science deals with policy formulation whereas PA deals with im-

2. Political system is based on ideology, philosohy and aspirations of the

people. But, PA concentrates on facts, value-free, neutrality, objectivity
and rationality

3. Political science deals with decision making, while PA has advisory role

4. Politicians are elected, administrators are selected

5. Political system is temporary while PA provides stability and continuity

to the system (political executive and permanent executive)

6. Horizontal dierentiation- PA is conned only to the executive wing of the
government and not to the legislative and judicial wing

7. No formal qualication is required for members of the political system

whereas administrators are professional people

Few Other Dialogues on PA

Nicholas Henry- Public Administration is a broad-ranging and
amorphous combination of theory and practice
Beveridge- State should take care of citizens from cradle to grave

In sum, public administration:

1. is the non-political public bureaucracy operating in a political system

2. covers all three branches of government, although it tends to be concen-

trated in the executive branch

3. diers signicantly from private administration, especially in its emphasis

on the public; and

4. is interdisciplinary in nature as it draws upon other social sciences

Scope of PA

Scope of Public Administration as an activity

no less than the scope
As an activity the scope of public administration is
of state activity. It is very wide in modern state- a wide variety of services
and protection from the government. Public administration provides a number
ofwelfare and social security services to the people. Besides, it has to
manage government owned industries and regulate private industries.

Scope of Public Administration as a Discipline

The scope of public administration as a discipline comprises of the following:

The POSDCoRB view

Gullick sums up the scope of the subject by the letters of the word POSD-
CoRB which denote: Planning, Organisation, Stang, Directing, Co-ordinating
reporting the Budgeting.

• Planning means the working out in broad outline the things to be done,
the methods to be adopted to accomplish the purpose.

• Organisation means the establishment of the formal structure of author-
ity through which the work is sub-divided, arranged, dened and coordi-

• Stang means the recruitment and training of the personnel and their
conditions of work.

• Directing means making decisions and issuing orders and instructions.

• Coordinating means inter-relating the work of various divisions, sections

and other parts of the organisation.

• Reporting means informing the superiors within the agency to whom the
executive is responsible about what is going on.

• Budgeting means scal planning, control and accounting.

According to Gullick the POSDCoRB activities are common to all organisations

regardless of the nature of the work. POSDCoRB gives unity, certainty, and
deniteness and makes the study more systematic. The critics pointed out that-

1. POSDCoRB activities are neither the whole of administration, nor even

the most important part of it.

2. It does not contain any reference to the formulation and implementation of

the policy. Therefore, the scope of administration is dened very narrowly,
being too inward looking and too conscious of the top management.

The Subject Matter View

PA deals not only with the processes but also with the substantive matters
of administration, such as Defence, Law and Order, Education, Public Health,
Agriculture, Public Works, Social Security, Justice, Welfare, etc. These services
have important specialised techniques of their own which are not covered by
POSDCoRB techniques. For example crime detection, maintenance of Law and
Order, etc., are more vital to ecient police work, than the formal principles of
organisation, personnel management, coordination or nance etc.


Therefore, the study of public administration should deal with both the pro-
cesses (that is POSDCoRB techniques and the substantive concerns).

Lewis Meriam:  Public administration is an instrument with two

blades like a pair of scissors. One blade may be knowledge of the
eld covered by POSDCoRB, the other blade is knowledge of the
subject matter in which these techniques are applied. Both blades
must be good to make an eective tool

Public And Private Administration

As a co-operative group activity, administration occurs in both public and pri-

vate institutional settings. Its nature, however, depends upon the nature of the
setting and goals with which it is concerned.

Distinction Between Public and Private Administration

John Gaus, Paul H. Appleby, Sir Josia Stamp, Herbert A. Simon, Peter Drucker,
etc., in their writings, have made distinction between public and private admin-

Paul Appleby- More one has succeded in non-governmental elds,

the less likely he is to succeed in government

According to Sir Josiah Stamp, the four principles, which dierentiate public
from private administration are:

1. Principle of Uniformity: Common and uniform laws and regulations

mostly regulate public Administration.

2. Principle of External Financial Control: the representatives of the

people through a legislative body control Government revenues and heads
of expenditure.

3. Principle of Ministerial Responsibility: Public administration is ac-

countable to its political masters and through them to the people.

4. Principle of marginal Return: The main objective of a business ven-

ture is prot, however small it may be. However, most of the objectives
of public administration can neither be measured in money terms nor
checked by accountancy methods.

Distinguishing features of Public administration may be described under the

following sub-heads:

1. Political Direction: Public administration is political, while private ad-

ministration is non-political, public administration takes place in a polit-
ical context.

2. Absence of prot motive: The primary purpose of governmental or-

ganisation is to provide services to the people and promote social good.

3. Prestige: Public administrators, in general, enjoy high status and pres-

tige in comparison to their counterparts in private enterprises especially
developing countries (exception Nilkeni, Murthy; Studies of Eldersvelde,
Jagannadham and Barnabas show that people regard PA as more preti-

4. More Power- PA has a direct link to the soveirgn powers of the state. It
has legitimate coercive powers to enforce its decisions

5. Public Gaze: All the actions of public administration are exposed to
wide public gaze because the public closely watches it. This does not
happen in private administration.

6. Service and Cost: Most governments spend more money than their
income or revenues.

7. Legal framework: Public administration is rule oriented. The responsi-

bilities of public administrators are xed by a set of constitutional prac-
tices, laws and regulations

8. Consistency of treatment: A government ocial is required by law to

maintain a high degree of consistency in his dealings with the public.

9. Public accountability: Public accountability is the hallmark of Public

administration in a democracy. Public administration is responsible to
the public, though not directly but indirectly through political executive,
legislature, judiciary, etc.

10. Large-scale administration: Public administration is by all means

larger than any big private concern in terms of size., complexity and di-
versity of activities.

11. Monopolistic and Essential Services: In the eld of public adminis-

tration, there is generally a monopoly of the government (national security,
foreign relations, law and order, mint and currency etc.)

12. Ocials remain Anonymous: In public administration, whatever of-

cials do, they do in the name of the government and not in their own

13. Financial meticulousness: Public administration has to be very careful

in nancial matters because it is working as custodian of people's money.

14. Lower level of Eciency: Due to varied responsibilities, lack of eective

control, less accountability, involvement of a large number of levels and job
security of employees, eciency has not been there in public organisations
to the eect desired. Peter Self talks of three tests to measure eciency
of PA-: Management eciecy, Policy eciency and Service Eciency

Similarities between Public and Private Administration

Scholars like Henry Fayol, Mary P. Follet and L. Urwick do not make a distinc-
tion between public and private administration.
The following similarities between the two types of administration may be

1. Both rely on common skills, techniques and procedures.

2. The principle of prot motive is not peculiar to private administration,
because it is now accepted as a laudable objective for public sector enter-
prises also

3. In personnel management, the private organisations have been inuenced

greatly by the practices of public organisations

4. The private concerns are also subjected to many legal constraints through
regulatory legislation such as taxation, monetary and licensing policies,

5. There is a similar type of hierarchy and management systems, both in

public and private sectors.

6. Both Pubic and private administration carries on continuous eorts to

improve their internal working and also for ecient delivery of services to
people or customers.

7. Public and private administration serves the people, whether being called
clients or customers.

Hybridization Between The Two

The eld of PA today is characterized by heterogenity, dynamism and hybrid-
sation; heterogenity of political and administrative systems, dynamism of sci-
entic methods and research questions and hybridisation of theories, concepts
and denitions.

1. Both are taking aspects of one another- NPM; private sector is too
talking about social welfare (corporate social responsibility; Tata, Infosys
social initiatives)

2. Public Corporation- WA Robson- Public Corporations are the most

important constructive development of the 20th ccentury, which combine
aspects of a government department and a commercial enterprise

3. PPP

4. Lateral entry system in USA, transfer of retired bureaucrats to

private sector in Japan, lateral entry in India (Nilkeni ID Project)

Importance of PA

As Specialised Subject of Study

Government has to work towards the public interest. PA is eciency promoting
and pragmatic eld.Governments, appoint committees to look into the prob-
lems of administration and recommended suitable administrative machinery to
respond to diverse public needs (The Haldane Committee Report (1919)

President's Committee on Administrative Management
in Britain; the
(1937) in the United States; A.D. Gorwala Committee's and Paul H.
Appleby's Reports in India)

As an Activity
The contemporary age, which has witnessed the emergence of `Administrative
State', public administration has become an essential part of society and a
dominant factor.

Woodrow Wilson:  Administration is the most obvious part of

government; it is government in action, it is the executive, the op-
erative and the most visible side of the government.
W.B. Donham, `If our civilization fails, it will be mainly because
of breakdown of administration'.

1. Basis of the Government: A Government can exist without a legisla-

ture or an independent judiciary. But no Government can exist without
administration( Appleby-PA is basis of government)

2. An instrument for providing services: Felix A. Nigro aptly remarks,

 The real core of administration is the basic service which is performed
for the public .

3. An instrument for implementing policies

4. A stabilising force in society: An element of continuity between the

old and the new orders is provided by public administration. It does
not hold true only of constitutional changes of government in democratic
countries, but is also reected when there are revolutionary changes in the
form and character of government (Pigorus-PA has preservation of status
quo as its main function)

5. An instrument of social change and economic development- Brooke

Adams- Main purpose of PA is to faciliate social change

6. Technical Character: The increase in the number of functions under-

taken by the government require highly specialised, professional and tech-
nical, services. Modern public administration usually represents a galaxy
of all of a nation's occupations.

7. Protector and Promoter of Culture

8. Role in Policy making

9. Role in National Integration

10. Policy Making

According Gerald Caiden public administration has assumed the following
crucial roles incontemporary modern society:

1. Preservation of polity

2. Maintenance of stability and order

3. Institutionalisation of Socio-Economic changes

4. Management of large scale commercial services

5. Ensuring growth and economic development

6. Protection of the weaker sections of society

7. Formation of public opinion

8. Inuencing Public policies.

Reasons For Growing Importance

1. Emergence of Welfare and Democratic state- The state has to now

serve all sections of people in the society. This amount to enhanced re-
sponsibilities of public administration. Public administration is also to
regulate and control private economic enterprises to meet the objectives
of the state

2. Industrial Revolution- State has enacted a number of Industrial and

Labour laws and it is imperative for public administration to implement
such laws

3. Scientic and Technological Development - made possible `big gov-

ernment' and `large scale administration'.

4. Economic Planning - It requires a large number of experts and elaborate

administrative machinery for plan formulation, implementation, monitor-
ing, and evaluation.

5. Others- rapid growth of population, modern warfare, increase in natural

and manmade disasters, decline in social harmony, increase in violence
due to conicts, communal riots, ethnic wars, terrorism, etc.

Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation

Factors For Rise of LPG

LPG- a dominant force and ideological anchor of the late 20th Century, why?

1. Collapse of USSR

2. Sweeping politico-economic changes in Eastern Europe

3. End of Cold War

4. Ascendence of Neo-liberalism (Reagonomics in US and Thatcherism in


5. Proliferation and expansion of TNCs and MNCs

6. Growing clout of IMF, WB

7. Emergence of macro-economics

8. Communication and Internet revolution

9. Collapse of Third Worldism as a distinct theory and practice

These phenomenal changes of unprecedented magnitude have been variously

termed as 'New World Order (Bush)' 'The End of History (Fukayama)', 'New
World Disorder (Ignatie )' and 'Return of Capitalist Colonialism (Rajani Kothari)'.

Liberalisation- Implies a process of freeing the economy form vari-
ous governmental regulations such as industrial licensing, control on
pricing and distribution of product and services, import licensing,
foreign exchange regulations etc.Although, basically it is an eco-
nomic phenomenon, it is grounded in the political ideology of liber-
alism. politically, it manifests itself as the doctrine of laissez faire
and extreme individualism


Globalisation- refers to the multiplicity of linkages and intercon-

nections between the States and societies, which make up the present
world system. It can be understood in terms of two distinct phenom-
ena: `scope' (or stretching) and `intensity' (or deepening).
On the one hand, it denes a set of processes which operate world-
wide hinting at a spatial connection. On the other hand, it also im-
plies an intensication of the levels of interaction, interconnectedness
or interdependence between the States and societies. Accordingly,
alongside the stretching, goes a deepening of global processes. The
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
(OECD) has dened globalisation as a shift from a world of dis-
tinct national economies to a global economy in which production
is internationalised and nancial capital ows freely and instantly
among countries.

Two Faces of Globalisation
The proponents consider the developments caused by globalisation including
expansion of trade, production, markets, investment, and technology as giving
a push to the economies. This is said to result in

• employment opportunities

• better living standards

• collaborative arrangements

• networking and so on.

The opponents point out its negative repercussions as

• high levels of poverty

• job lay os

• lack of employment for unskilled labour

• increased economic inequality

• subsidy cuts

• environmental problems, especially in developing countries.

Income statistics from the US and the UN Development Programme indicate

that the combined income of the 400 richest persons in the US is more than the
combined national income of 20 African States totalling over 3 million people
and is more than the total national income of the 146 million people of Pakistan.
In the view of Ali Farazmand (1999), due to globalisation, on the one hand,
public administration seems to be moving towards protection of citizens' rights,
accountability, ethical values, research and training. On the other hand, glob-
alisation is leading to shrinking of public space, violation of human rights and
commodication of citizens.

Impact On Administration
Globalisation is signalling the end of what Cristopher Hood calls the Progres-
sive era Public Administration and its metamorphosis into NPM

Peter Aucoin elegantly summarizes a "trinity" of broadly based challenges-:

1. Growing demands for restraint in public sector spending

2. Increasing cynicism regarding government bureaucracies' responsiveness

to citizens' concerns

3. An international, market-driven economy that does not defer to domestic

policy eorts.

Globalisation is giving rise to new societal expectations, changing value systems,
altering the nature of State and governing systems.

Cerny observes  In a changing globalising-international and transna-

tional environment, the State has been not only an agent of its own
transformation, but also a major source of development of globali-
sation itself  .

WB, IMF etc- formalised institution with a global jurisdiction that has authority
and power over individual countries in a given policy area (Welsch and Wong,
1998). They rewrote a country's

• trade policy

• scal policy

• civil service requirements

• labour laws

• health care arrangements

• environmental regulations

• energy policy

• resettlement requirements

• procurement rules and

• budgetary policies

Public administration, according to Jamil Jreisat is facing new challenges due

to the impact of globalisation. These are:

1. A growing need for negotiation skills among sovereign States

2. Changed role of bureaucracy from managing to facilitating economic


3. An organisational, managerial culture which stresses performance

and result- oriented management

4. Focus on managerial leadership and expertise which has been ne-

cessitated by the demands of negotiations, mediation, and sensitivity to
human rights and diversity

5. Emergence of e-government

6. Need for a comparative perspective wherein, in response to the new

global reality, public administration must eectively utilise a comparative
outlook that incorporates non-western as well as more developed systems

The biggest challenge for administration is to recast the role of the State. There
is a need for evolving a new regulatory State with an expanded agenda. The
State needs to be regulatory in nature, providing for mechanisms for

1. Ensuring eciency

2. Setting standards of service

3. Removing market distortions

4. Providing appropriate regulatory/legal framework for players in the mar-


5. Protecting the interests of consumers, employers, employees, and the other


Osborne and Gaebler in their work Reinventing Gov-

In addition to these,
ernment (Discussed in NPM)
Need to guard against getting trapped in the circle of elitism. The key chal-
lenge, to counteract the negative consequences of globalisation, is to strengthen
and revitalise the public institutions in a manner to ensure their legitimacy and
eectiveness in protection of public interests.

The World Development Report  2000/2001 `Attacking Poverty'

asserts that public administration should implement policies e-
ciently, be responsive to the needs of the people and redistribute
resources for activities that benet the needy.
The World Development Report 2002  Building Institutions
for Market has observed that  Weak institutions  tangled laws,
corrupt laws, corrupt courts, deeply biased credit systems and elabo-
rate business registration requirement  hurt poor people and hinder
development .

The public institutions can thwart the negative consequences of globalisation

through suitable interventions. For instance in Korea, the government through
employment insurance, public works programme, livelihood protection programme,
provides appropriate social protection by creating a base for a competitive and
knowledge based economy. Land reform measures in Japan, Korea and Taiwan
provided for a more egalitarian ownership of land and provision of increased
incomes to a broad group of land holders
Globalisation process has taught some lessons (positive as well as negative),
need to
especially to the developing countries. It has brought to the fore the
appreciate the signicance of indigenous local systems of administra-
tion and governance, as well as adapt them in accordance to the new
trends in globalisation.

Impact of Globalisation In Developing Countries

• The contracting out process is also open to corruption and mismanage-

ment. The process becomes immensely complex and dicult to manage
as the need for constant monitoring and supervision adds to the already
heavy load of work and cost of the public agencies.

• The introduction of user fees goes against the principles of equity and
ability to pay. In developing countries, this approach is likely to lead to
higher cost of essential services that a larger section of the impoverished
population may be unable to aord.

• erosion in the power, credibil-

As Huque points out, it could lead to
ity and legitimacy of the governments. Weak governments in developing
countries have little bargaining power in their dealings with the resource-
ful, organised and highly competent service providers from the private
sector as well as the inuential international agencies and multinational
corporations. Besides, existence of regulations titled in favour of the
service providers

Questions Facing PA today

1. How to improve governments actions

2. How to revitalize public administrations services

3. Whether bureaucracies are responding to economical/ social/ political

challenges and changes ahead, and with what tools

4. What is the impact of a high-technology environment and the information

age on our public agencies

5. How to attain the (im)possible goal of eective integration between citizens

and governments in an ultra-dynamic society and

6. What are the implications of such transitions for democratic governments,

their stability, and legitimization in the eyes of citizens

No Universality is Possible

For many years a plausible approach in management science and in the study of
public administration called for the formulation of a universal theory in the eld.
Today, the goal of a universal administrative paradigm is hardly achievable.
Examples like Theory Z of W. Ouchi and lessons from a more recent Chinese
and east European experiences initiated culture-oriented ventures in general
management inquiry. They especially promoted the investigation of work values
and cultureoriented management in private but also in public arenas.

New Right
The New Right bases its theories on the idea that capitalist society encourages
choice and therefore, excessive state intervention, such as the welfare state
should be avoided as this interferes with the workings of the economy. (The
Culture of Dependency Theory assumes that the poor need to take respon-
sibility for their situation as dependency creates more poverty and unemploy-
ment; The concept of the `underclass' is used to describe those dependent on
welfare benets).