Q. Calling Woodrow Wilson, the father of Public Administration is doing injustice to equally or even more eminent contributions made prior to him.’ Comment.
Ans : Woodrow Wilson is known as the father of Public Administration. His seminal contribution, ‘The Study of Administration’ was published in the ‘Political Science Quarterly’ in 1887. Even though Wilson contributed immensly to Public Administration, before him number of political scientists and other administrators contributed equally and even more.
Public Administration, as a practice, is as old as civilisation itself. As early as in 5000 B.C. Sumerian priests practised it. The functions included ‘equiping and feeding a standing army, administering temples and shorehouses collecting and accounting for taxes, recording financial transactions, administering court of justice and other activities.
The Egyptians who followed the Sumerians, demonstrated their administrative skills in the construction of pyramids. Kautilya’sArthashastra, is the oldest text on Public Administration covering topics like hierarchy, bureaucracy and so on. Closer to our times, Ain-e-Akbari by Abul Fazal, was written in 1590 A.D. during Akbar’s reign.
During the 16th to 18th centuries, the Cameralists began a systematic study of public administration. The Cameralists were the German and Austrian professors and administrators who undertook organized research on topics relating to the civil services.
In early 19th century, France emerged as a leading country in recognizing the importance of public administration. As early as in 1812, Charles Jean-Bennin published his “Principle D’ Administration Publique” (‘Principle of Public Administration”). Bennin also drafted an administrative code for public officials following the administrative revolution, which overtook France in the early 1800s under Napoleon. The systematic study of public administration reached its zenith in 1859, when Viven published his two-volumes of ‘Etudes Administrative’ (Administrative Studies).
In the early 19th century, till the end of the century, political scientists and others contributed considerably to public administration. Before Wilson, administnators tried to develop the discipline, but Wilson’s seminal lecture made proper beginning for the subject.