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The Traditional Model of

Public Administration
S Ranugge
B. A. (Hons), M.A. (ISS), SLAS

Session 2

Session Objectives:
At the end of the session you will be
able to Understand;
the evolutionary process of public
administration concepts up to the
latter part of the last century
the principles of bureaucracy and its
validity as a public administration

Traditional Model
Public administration has a long history:
E.g. construction of pyramids in ancient
Egypt, ancient irrigation system in Sri
Emperors and kings ruled their dynasties
and kingdoms through officials
Administration by amateurs and
personnel loyal to leaders

Traditional Model
Patronage and nepotism in
Corruption, misuse and personal gains
by officials
The Spoils System of Administration in
the US till the latter part of 19 th century
Change in Presidency means change in

Traditional Model
Demand for reforms and the
beginning of bureaucratic form of
The need for regime continuation
with bureaucracy
Bureaucracy to function under the
control of political leadership

Traditional Model
Northcote-Trevelyn Report in Britain
Abolition of patronage in recruitment to
the public service
Open competitive Examination for
recruitment under a central
examination board
Young men to be recruited to the lower

Traditional Model
Reorganization of staff as intellectual
and mechanical
Promotions from within the service
on merit basis
Gradual implementation of
The Report impact on the US.

Traditional Model
Problems with the spoils systems
killing of President Garfield in 1881
by a disappointed jobseeker.
Corruptions through out the country
The Civil Service Act (1883) also
called the Pendleton Act.
Establishment of Civil service

Traditional Model
Competitive examination for
recruitments to the classified service
Merit-based appointments
Recruitments to the lower grade
Probation period before confirmation on
the post
Apportionment of appointments
according to the population of the states
and cities.

Traditional Model
Woodrow Wilsons contribution to
He was inspired by the Weberian
Idea of distinct professional public
Recruited and appointed on merit
Politically neutral

Traditional Model
Permanent and continuance despite
political changes
Politicians to make policies and
Administrators to implement them

Webers theory of

Foundation of the traditional public

administration and modern
Webers three types of authority
Traditional authority
Charismatic authority
Rational/legal authority

Rational/legal authority as bureaucracy

Six Principles of the


1. Division of labor
2. Hierarchy
3. Promotion based on merit and
professional skills
4. Development of a career service
5. Reliance on and use of rules and
6. Impersonality of relationships

Merits of bureaucratic

Administration is no longer arbitrary

Administration is not a personal political
Rationale in decision-making;
application of rules and precedents
The system is with the highest level of
technical efficiency
Specialization of function means
increase in productivity.

The position of the official in

Holding office as a vocation
The official enjoys social esteem
Appointment by a superior (political)
The position is held for life.
Fixed salary (by rank) and a pension
Career service, moving from lower
level to higher level

The political control and the

traditional bureaucracy:
Politics administration dichotomy
Woodrow Wilson
Politics sets the tasks for
Public administration is detailed and
systematic execution of public law
The principle of separation was (is)
practiced in parliamentary

The political control and

Minister and the ministry to make
policies, which are to be
administered by a department
The department head is permanent
and remains when the government
Stability, continuity and permanence
of service to carry out policies.

The political control and

Administration is anonymous although
it is carried out in the name of
The Ministers accept the personal
responsibility for all activities of their
Public servants receive certain
benefits, such as salaries, job security
and a pension.

The political control and

The political control in the traditional
Accountability and responsibility
each department/agency is
accountable thro the hierarchy to the
Cabinet (in Westminster System)
Clear separation of areas of work
between the politicians and

Nature of the traditional


Rigid and bureaucratic

Merit-based appointments
Focused on and preoccupied with the
structure and process
The system is stable
A better system than what existed

Criticisms of the traditional


Hierarchical structure is not the most

efficient organization to produce
Bureaucracy may be good for control
but not for management
No room for innovations
Political control is problematic

The problem of political


Separation between politicians and

administrators is vague and not
What was visible was a separation of
political appointment to public service
from career appointments in the US
Separation was followed in the
Westminster system.

The problem of
The traditional model does not
explain the role played by
administrators in management and

The problem of bureaucracy

Barrier to innovations, bureaucrats as
Red-tapism, mediocrity, inefficiency and
inertia (bureaucracy suffers from)
Problematic relationship between
bureaucracy and democracy
Professional secret of bureaucrats as
their power, and superiority as an elites

The problem of
Adherence to rules reduce the
technical efficiency
Clashes between politicians and
bureaucrats over this superiority (in
Sri Lanka at independence)
Politicians were critical of
bureaucracy in the 1970s in the
western democracies

In conclusion
The tradition model dominated the
20th century public administration
Impersonality and consistency of the
bureaucratic model are valid aspects
of modern organizations
Inherent weaknesses of the model
lead to reform the public sector in
the latter part of the 20th century.