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Concept of Development

By : brainykey   January 13, 2018

Concept of Development

Development is quite dynamic concept. It is ever changing. The concept of development is neither new nor old. It has been in existence since the human civilization began in different aspects. The nature of development has continuously evolved from what it was in 19th century to 1950s to 1990s. “The Commission on International Development Issues” popularly called as Brandt Commission has remarked that “Development never will be and never can be defined to the universal satisfaction”. Scholars like Uphoff and llchman are of the view that development is probably one of the most ‘depreciated’ terms as it has been used more that it has been understood.

Many scholars have defined development as the increase in the national GDP, some think it in terms of increasing the capacity of the political systems and some equate it with modernization. Thus development is a multifaceted phenomenon having social, political, economic, administrative criteria etc. Hence we can also speak in terms of ‘social development’, ‘political development’ or ‘economic development’. In public administration an integrated approach is taken while defining ‘development administration’ and social, economic development etc are taken as emanating from “development”.

Edward Weidner defines development as the process of growth in the direction of modernity and specifically in the direction of nation building and socio-economic progress. Colm and Geiger define development as change plus growth. Renowned Indian scholar terms it as ‘transformation of society’. Dudley Seers mentions development as the realization of the potential of human personality which could be best achieved by reduction of poverty, unemployment and inquality. He mentions if the national economy grows at quite fast pace but one or more of these central problems are not resolved then the result would not be termed as development. He has included ‘self reliance’ and ‘cultural independence’ also in the meaning of development. Life sustenance, self esteem and freedom of choice are the three core values of development according to Denis Goulet. Some have defined it as the changes in structures, institutions and attitudes as well as the reduction of poverty, inequality and economic growth. Social scientists widely accept development as a process of societal transformation from traditional society to a modem society. This is also called modernization. The Brandt Commission also defines development as the process of “profound transformation” of the entire social and economic structure. The World Development Report, 1991 gives quite comprehensive definition of development. According to it the challenge of development is to improve the quality of life. Improving quality of life doesn’t just entail increasing the income levels but it is just a means. The objective is to provide better education, health & nutrition, reduction of poverty, a clean environment, equality of opportunity, individual freedoms and a rich cultural life. All this has to be done without any bias or discrimination based on gender, caste, religion, locality, regions etc.

In the literature of administrative studies, large emphasis has been placed on economy and efficiency. Thus the main focus of administrative reforms has been on the “means” of doing things in “best possible manner” and the “goals” or “ends” of administration have been lost sight of. The ends have often been identified with economy and efficiency. Thus, overemphasis on economy and efficiency has served both ends as well as the means of administration. This blurring of distinction between means and ends has not created much trouble when large organization engaged in “routine” administrative matters were concerned. This overemphasis on means was taken note of by Edward Weidner and he commented “Public Administration has glorified the means and forgotten the ends”. To fill this void between means and ends, Weidner has given the  concept of “development administration” which concentrates on setting objectives for the society and then pursuing them. Riggs also supported this view and studied how public administration operates in different ecological settings and changes itself to achieve a set of social goals.

Development : Dynamic Change Rather Than A Fixed Goal

The dictionary meaning of development means the growth into higher, fuller and mature condition. However in public administration development is taken as a dynamic change, a rate of change in particular direction rather than a mature final condition. It is desirable dynamic change of society from one condition to another condition. It has been viewed as a “state of mind, a tendency, a direction”. Further the goal of development may be output or increased performance or “justice and equality”. All this analysis shows that development is quite broad based concept and value based at the same time.

Riggsian Concept of Development

Riggs has defined development as “a process of increasing autonomy i. e. discretion of social systems, made possible by rising level of diffraction”. According to him, discretion means the ability to choose among different alternatives while diffraction is the degree of differentiation and integration in a social system. Development is the increasing ability to make and carry out collective decisions affecting environment according to this view.

‘Differentiation’ and ‘integration’ are two key elements in the process of development. When in a social system there exists a social structure to carry out every function in the society then the society is said to be differentiated. Integration means the co-ordination or linking up different social structures and functions. Prismatic situation prevails in a society when it is highly differentiated but poorly integrated. Higher is the level of differentiation and integration, higher is the level of diffraction which leads to higher level of development in the society. The lack of co-ordination between differentiation and integration leads to prismatic conditions in the society.

Riggs first gave “one dimensional” approach to diffraction which is represented in the following figure. In such an approach, prismatic society is a “semi-differentiated” society standing midway between an undifferentiated fused society and a highly differentiated diffracted society.

In his recent work “Prismatic Society Revisited”, Riggs introduced different categories of prismatic society. This approach is known as “two dimensional” approach to diffraction and is shown below:

Thus prismatic and diffracted are no longer models next to each other in the levels of  differentiation. In the “two dimensional” approach, prismatic conditions may occur in societies at any level of differentiation i. e. these conditions need not be confined to less  developed countries only. The prismatic conditions may prevail even in the developed countries. This is due to “malintegration” in those societies also e. g. in USA urban crises,  race riots, popular apathy etc. are there. “Integration” thus is quite important part of the  development according to Riggs.

The level of differentiation in a society depends upon the technological and non- technological factors. The level of differentiation will be more when the technology is highly developed. Integration depends on two factors:


  1. Penetration


  1. Participation


Penetration basically denotes the ability of the government to make public policies and to implement them. Participation is the receptivity, willingness and ability of the people to obey the law of the land. Hence penetration and participation result in a good co- ordination of the differentiated structures which ultimately results in the development. Riggs has considered “diffraction” as the necessary and sufficient condition for development i. e. for increasing discretion.

By increased “discretion”, Riggs means increased capability of people to shape their physical, human and cultural environments. In this way a developed system is able to change its “environment” in a better way than an underdeveloped one. This increased capability may or may not be used to increase the output. That is, it is also possible that a developed system may have a low output though it is rarely found. Also, the changes in environment like a technological innovation or foreign aid may bring increase in output or growth in the system even though the level of the discretion of the system did not rise. So, growth without development is possible.

Development Administration: Meeting Ground for All the Approaches of Comparative Public Administration

The field of comparative public administration is primarily concerned with the comparison of administrative systems of different nations at varying stages of development. Not only that, development administration is a quite wide term and not restricted to only “developing” countries. Due to these concerns, development administration can be considered as the meeting ground for all the approaches to comparative public administration. As the “New” public administration also concerns itself with the action and goal orientation, development administration is also a meeting ground of comparative public administration and the new public administration.

Nimrod Raphaeli has mentioned two “motivational concerns” for comparative public administration. These are


  1. Theory construction


  1. Development Administration


These two concerns have moved together. Theorizing in comparative public administration has been related to development and literature in development administration has contributed to theory. Thus development of theory and theory of development administration have moved together.

Two Aspects of Development Administration

Development Administration involves two inter-related aspects: “administration of development programmes” and “development of administrative capabilities”. The first aspect means to implement policies and plans designed to meet the developmental objectives of governments and the second aspect means strengthening of the administrative capabilities to implement these plans and policies. These two aspects are intertwined with each other. Riggs gives an analogy of chicken and egg type of causation to understand this inter-relatedness of these two aspects of development administration. Administration cannot itself be improved much without changes in environmental constraints like infrastructure etc. which obstructs its effectiveness and the environment itself cannot be improved much unless administration of developmental programmes is strengthened. The capacity of administrative systems is emphasized to such an extent in the theory of development administration that the administrative systems and the reforms in them are treated as independent variables while the development objectives are treated as dependent variables. Scholars like Fred Riggs, Edward Weidner, Joseph La Palombara etc. hold this view. The major thrust of development administration is on “action oriented and goal oriented administrative system”.

Features of Development Administration

The term “development administration” is difficult to define due to the various changes incorporated in its meaning as the experiences gained by developing countries have influenced the thinking on the subject very much. Hence an agreed upon definition of the term is difficult to find. However we can certainly identify the various features of the term. These are:

  1. Planning and Coordination

Development administration is concerned with the formulation and implementation of the four P’s – plans, policies, programmes and projects. The term refers to the “organized” efforts to carry out development programmes and projects in the direction of nation building and socio-economic progress. Also the efforts are channelized towards developing the human and material resources as part of nation building. So, planning and co-ordination are of vital importance in the overall scheme of things of development administration. Planning enables the government to identify the major functions of the government and their alignment with basic objectives of development.

  1. Goal oriented Administration

Development administration does not just mean to carry out activities like in normal public administration functions. It is an endeavour in achieving the socio-economic goals. A bureaucratic administration is liked with rule bound and procedure oriented administration. It is resistant to new changes. On the other hand, development administration is linked with equipping administration with capabilities to handle development activities of complex nature. Development administration entails political, economic and social development. So it is goal oriented rather than just implementing various public policies.

  1. Capacity Building

Development administration means enhancing the capabilities of administration to achieve development goals. The inherited colonial administrative institutions of developing countries needed changes to equip them with the task of achieving various social, economic goals. The skills, knowledge and attitude of the administrators need to be enhanced for this purpose.

  1. Future Vision Oriented Progressive Administrators

The development administrators have to be future vision oriented. For example, environmental protection requires the administrators to be trained in crucial areas like environmental conservation etc. Development administration requires the administrators to take decisions for distant future. They have to be “progressive” in their outlook so that the important socio-economic goals are achieved.

  1. Participation

The task of progressive realization of development goals by a developing economy requires the participation of the people. This implies strengthening pressure groups, political parties, equal opportunities, no discrimination etc. The development administration machinery has to create all such conditions so that the change could be brought about. Participation by stakeholders in the formulation and implementation of policies which are going to affect them is an important feature of development administration. Decentralization, delegation and consultation are some of the mechanisms by which the participation is increased.

  1. Receptivity Towards Innovative Changes

Once the goals of administration are set, the primary task is to find new and innovative approaches to accomplish those goals. It is the function of development administration to find new ideas, structures, procedures, policies, plans and programmes for the successful realization of the goals of the governments. The environment for innovativeness has to be created. Schemes like National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan etc. are the examples of such innovations. Through the print and electronic media such innovations can be spread throughout the country tendency towards the centralization of administration. Adaptability and flexibility are crucial elements of the administrative systems suited for development administration. Such administration also requires highly motivated personnel at all levels. It needs to exhibit enthusiasm to accomplish such goals.

  1. People Oriented Administration in Touch with Grass Roots

Development administration aims at improving the lives of common man. It aims at serving people with enthusiasm. The need for a flexible, adaptive, action and goal oriented administration which is in touch with the people at grass roots level is widely recognized in development administration. As the developing countries were earlier the colonies of foreign powers there is greater need for their administrative systems to be people oriented. In societies which are diverse and plagued by social inequalities, the development administrators have to be in touch with the changing social realities.






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