Q.Whereas Downs model is largely dependent on a theory of psychological motivation, Niskanen’s model is framed by neo-classical thinking. In the light of the above, discuss the public choice approach to decision-making.
Ans. Public choice approach to the study of organizations focus on problems of control and responsiveness. Using economic tools of analysis, this brand of research analyzes the pathologies of the administrative state and their implications for organizational performance. The main argument of the Public Choice Approach is that bureaucratic agencies are sufficiently ossified that they require abolishment. This lack of responsiveness to constituency demands, whether it be from elected officials, citizens, or pressure groups, is attributable to bureaucratic inertia that occurs within the organizational setting.
Niskanen extended this theme on the limitations of administrative governance. Niskanen’s central claim is that bureaucracy is pre-occupied with resource (budget) maximization and that its monopoly power over the distribution (administration) of the supply of public goods and services made it inefficient and unresponsive to both citizen and politician preferences.
One notable departure from this malignant view of bureaucratic pathologies is Downs’s Inside Bureaucracy. He argues that individual bureaucrats have different preference structures, thus making effective coordination and policy-making difficult. He extends the behavioral tradition, describing different behaviors exhibited by zealots, advocates, statesmen, conservers, and climbers.
The implication of these bureaucratic personality types is that communication channels in bureaucratic organizations will be muddled and will lead to performance distortions. Downs contends that bureaucratic pathologies can be corrected by sending the proper mix of agency personnel types, adopting extra organizational means such as reorganization, obtaining feedback on its performance from outside sources, or creating overlapping administrative responsibilities to encourage competition and discourage subordinate collusion.