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Q. Give an account of major landmarks in the growth of the discipline of public administration in the 20th century. What are the possible trends in its growth in the first decade of 219’ century?

Evolution of Public Administration Stages

Though Public administration as an activity has existed in human society from time immemorial, its emergence as a branch of study and learning is rather recent, going back no farther than the closing years of 19th century.

As a field of systematic study, the development of public administration has been only recent. The credit for making a beginning of the academic study of public administration goes to Woodrow Wilson. The view of the earlier writers like Wilson, Goodnow, Wiloughby, White, Luther Gullick, Fayol and Wiwick was that public administration was a separate activity with its own well marked field and principles. Its field was demarcated on the basis of the so-called politics administration dichotomy.

In the early part of the 20th century many American Universities began to take active interest in the reform movement in government, and thus scholars got attracted to the field of public administration.

The second period in the history of public administration can roughly be demarcated between 1920s to late 1930s. This was largely based on certain ‘principles’ of administration and it was the task of scholars to promote their application.

This period was opened with the publication of W. F. Willoughboy’s principles of public administration (1927). Some other works also got published mainly by Follet, Fayol, Mooney and Reiley’s. This period reached its climax in 1937 when Gullick and Urwick’s papers on the science of Administration appeared. To summarise, 1927-1937 were the golden years of ‘principles’ in the history of public administration.

Evolution of Public Administration Stages

Evolution of Public Administration Stages

Evolution of Public Administration Stages

The third phase of the growth of the discipline of public administration began from late 1930s to late 1940s. In 1938 C.I. Bernard’s ‘The functions of the executive’ was published. Herbert Simon wrote an article entitled, ” The Proverbs of Administration” in 1946, and its argument was further developed in his Administrative Behaviour, which was published in 1947.

Simon developed a rationalistic theory of administration along with ‘bounded rationality’. The claim that public administration is a science was challenged by Robert Dahl in 1947. Public administration as a result of all this, found itself in a deflacted state, the status of the discipline become low. It was on this note that public administration entered the fourth phase in its history.

The fourth phase of the growth of (1948-1970) public administration as a discipline proved to be in crisis, searching for its identity. Many scholars responded to this crisis of identity by returning to the fold of the mother science, namely, political science. But, soon the process of de-emphasis of public administration in the larger discipline of political science got, if anything, accelerated in the 1960s. Here, thus public administrative was in search of alternative in the form of administrative science.

The fifth period 1970s to 1980s, despite the uncertainty and turmoil of the preceding period, public administration registered progress and entered the seventies with an enriched vision. Public Administration started attracting within its fold scholars from various disciplines and thus was becoming truly interdisciplinary in its nature. Public Administration has come closer to policy science and related areas and has been showing ample concern for issues in the field.

The sixth period starting from 1991, seeds of which had been sown in the preceding period. The public bureaucracy was viewed as the society’s favourite solution to the problems confronted. New Public Management and the civil society are the emerging new paradigms.

Evolution of Public Administration Stages

As an academic field, public administration’s evolution may thus be viewed as a succession of five over­lapping paradigms. Thus, the growth of public administration as a discipline owe to the American contribution, especially in the 20th century.

The scope and significance of the discipline of public administration has grown widely as a subject of study.

It the 21″ century growth of public administration especially in the first decade is widening, particularly in parliamentary democracies, where a healthy combination of politicians and administrators is most, urgently needed.

Modern view about public administration is that it is government in action. It is being increasingly realised that with the concept of welfare state becoming more and more popular, state is undertaking increasingly more and more responsibilities and this, tendency in turn has widened the scope of public administration especially in the developing countries.

Public administration has emerged as an institution of central importance in all countries in the world, and most impressively in the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Evolution of Public Administration Stages

The governments of the developing countries have solemn obligation to bring about all round development of the people. They have assumed enormous responsibilities to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people. Their commitment to achieve higher levels of economic and social development has increased the scope of public administration in the coming decades of 21″ centuries.

Public Administration Q/A


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