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Woodrow Wilson was an American president and is considered to be the father of public administration due to his pioneering contribution in the form of essay i.e the study of administration in 1887.This is considered to be the origin of public administration as a discipline. He called for a detailed study of administration which he believed would help in correcting the deficiencies of the political system.


Wilson believed that the study of administration was not made till then due to manageable population and limited role of government. But the increasing complexity of society,expanding government and spread of democracy has necessitated the study of administration.

Wilson was deeply influenced by the American political system which had spoils system leading to corruption and inefficiency. He thought that too much emphasis was placed on developing constitutional principles at the cost of administration. He said that it is difficult to run a constitution than to make one. He therefore called for administrative study with the objective of discovering

–          What the government can do.

–          How to do it economically and effectively.



Wilson’s contribution can be seen from four interlinked standpoints.

  1. Advocated science of administration

-Wilson called for this,in the historical context of widespread corruption,he thought that it would be a solution to the ills of politics.

-He believed that administration is a science .

-HE understood that growth of administration was observed in Europe due to monarchies and their desire to form effective administration on principles to ensure control.

-But in the context of USA due to importance of public opinion,the growth of science of administration was slow.

-A CCORDING TO WILSON,public administration is detailed and systematic exection of public law.Every particular general application of law is an act of administration.

He strongly advovated systematic analysis of administration leading to a science of administration.

Politics-administration dichotomy

-Wilson tried to make a distinction between politics and administration.

-Administration lies outside the sphere of politicsand administrative questions are not political questions.

-At the same time,he was well aware of the interdependence between politics and administration.

-He said that public opinion is indispensible for control of administration but at the same time should not interfere in administration.

-He believed that bureaucracy on merit basis with training is essential to organize democracy and to make administration business like.

-He gave this in the context of spoils system.

– He tried to distinguish between policy making and policy formulation.

3.       Public  administration and management.

–          Wilson wanted to make government business “less unbusiness like”.

–          The central concerns of business i.e economy,efficiency and effectiveness should also be the central concerns of public administration.

–          However,he was aware that government was different.

–          While advocating professionalization he was fully aware of the wider agenda of public administration.

4.       Comparitive public administration

-Wilson may be considered as founder of CPA.

-He emphasized that historical and comparative methods are best suited to study administration than philosophical method.

– He asserted that the virtues and the peculiarities cannot be learnt without comparing with other systems.

-He believed that it is impotant for democracy to meet the challenges from within.

-Wilson recognized tat care should be taken while learning lessons from other systems and adopting it to a different cultural context to be filtered.


-Wilson himself said that his article was too general and too vague.

-He raised more questions than providing answers.

-He failed to say clearly what should study of administration actively entail and what is the proper relationship between administration and politics.

-He failed to answer whether administration could ever become like natural science?

– Inspite of limitations,his contribution is significant.

– His essay is certainly seminal.

-He not only introduced the idea of administration but also launched public administration as a generic course.

-Many later works were influenced by him.



1.Woodrow Wilson was a father of public administration. Comment (200 words)

2. being comparative will yield science. Comment (200 words)


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Public Administration by G.Rajput


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