Competing Perspectives on Public Administration (I) Defining Public Administration - is there a generic public administration? Is there a coherent and unified conception of public administration? - some general definitions: “organization and management of men and materials to achieve the purpose of government” “the art and science of management as applied to affairs of state” (Waldo) - Waldo: “the immediate effect of all one-sentence or one-paragraph definitions of public administration is mental paralysis rather than enlightenment and stimulation.” - how public agencies are (or should be) organized and managed, and competing concerns in, and competing approaches to, public administration (II) Public Administration As Competing Concerns - public administration is a complex activity involving multiple functions and concerns: management, policy making, representing different interests, responding to public demands, and weighing difficult ethical questions - descriptive, normative and cognitive elements of different approaches to public administration descriptive: about what public administration is in reality normative: about what public administration should be; views on different institutional designs based on widely different views on how best to organize governments cognitive: views on how to develop knowledge - Are these three approaches equally applicable to analyzing public administration in all countries? - national variations in the nature and character of public administration why national variations? political structure and culture (III) The Managerial Approach - the root of the managerial approach - scientific management championed by Frederick Taylor - reaction to the pervasive political influence in administration, exemplified most clearly in the spoils system. - Woodrow Wilson: Administration lies outside the proper sphere of politics. Administrative questions are not political questions. The policy-administration dichotomy and the managerial approach to public administration - key values: efficiency and effectiveness; politics was to be eliminated because it produced inefficiency - View of organizational structure: bureaucratic structure (division of labor, coordination through hierarchy, clear assignment of functions and responsibilities, formal rules, and an emphasis on merits in matters of recruitment and promotion.) - but are other organizational forms not consistent with efficiency? - View of the individual: impersonal view of the individual, regardless of whether the individuals in questions are the employees and clients of public administrative agencies. employees: as “cogs” in an organizational machine clients as cases: “a bureaucracy is never set up to treat or deal with persons: it „processes‟ only „cases‟.” - Cognitive Aspect of the Managerial approach treating public administration as a science: studying and generalizing administrative behavior and developing testable knowledge about it - Variations on the theme: the rise of new organizational forms, managerial principles and concepts in recent years (IV) The Political Approach - the pluralist democracy model (Douglas Yates) - the fundamental values underpinning the political approach are representation, responsiveness, accountability, and separation of powers: the purpose of the doctrine of separation of powers in the American constitution was not to avoid friction, but to create friction to save the people from abuse of power - the political approach also grew out of a recognition that the policy-administration dichotomy was mythical and public administration, in reality, is necessary a political endeavor “the responsibility and responsiveness of the administrative agencies and the bureaucracies to the elected officials is of central importance in a government based increasingly on the exercise of discretionary power by the agencies of administration.” - Norton Long: In the United States, because the constitution does not provide a solid foundation for the existence of government agencies and bureaus, they “more or less perforce are in the business of building, maintaining, and increasing their political support. They lead and in large part are led by the diverse groups whose influence sustains them. Frequently they lead and are led in conflicting directions. This is not due to a dull-witted incapacity to see the contradictions in their behavior but is an almost inevitable result of the contradictory nature of their support.” representativeness and managing the civil service: merit or ensuring that the civil service reflects the diversity of the population - View of organizational structure: (and it suggests that the root of a political approach is far deeper than the recognition that it is impossible to separate the realm of politics from that of administration. It has a deeper root in the political philosophy stressing the importance of separation of government powers.) “the executive branch structure is in fact a microcosm of our society. Inevitably it reflects the values, conflicts, and competing forces to be found in a pluralistic society. The ideal of a neatly symmetrical, frictionless organization structure is dangerous illusion.” rejecting a view of centralized and unified bureaucracy as argued by the managerial approach. Instead, the government structure should (Douglas Yates, 1982:p.12) - present multiple centers of power (by means of which concentrations of power would be checked.); - facilitate the representation of interest groups by providing multiple points of access; - have strong elements of decentralization; - be internally competitive; - be open and participative; - produce widespread bargaining. View of the individual: legitimacy of individual interests and needs; aggregate the individual into broad social, economic or political group. Cognitive aspect: looking for consensus or the development of broad coalition in determining what is correct; public discussion and debate are viewed as methods for developing knowledge and finding truth; limited role for expert or science, instead the public should be given a large role in shaping public administration. (V) The Legal Approach - view public administration as applying and enforcing the law in concrete circumstances, and a process marked increasingly by judicialization (i.e. the tendency for administrative processes increasingly to resemble courtroom procedures) and by a growing concern for protecting and maximizing individual rights through legal procedures in administrative activities. - values stressed by the legal approaches: procedural due process, individual substantive rights and equal protection of the laws, equity in the sense of substantive fairness in the result of conflicts between private parties and the government, and constitutional integrity. downgrading the cost-effectiveness reasoning associated with the managerial approach View of Organizational Structure: adversary procedures modified from the judicial trial, the relative independence and impartiality of the hearing examiner (while they can be told which cases to hear, they cannot be told how to rule or decide, and their rulings may be binding), relative independence and impartiality of the hearing examiner View of the individual: individual as a unique person in a unique set of circumstances Cognitive aspect: adjudication as the method of developing knowledge; wary about applying generalizations to individual cases. (VI) Contextual Goals and the Distinctiveness of Public administration Contextual goals: description of desired states of affairs other than the one a particular agency is brought into being to create. For example, a police department not only must try to prevent crime and catch criminals, it must protect the rights of the accused, safeguard the confidentiality of its records, and provide necessary health services to arrestees. These other goals define the context within which the primary goals can be sought. Some major types of contextual goals: - administrative procedures - freedom of information - environmental protection - some contextual goals exist to produce a level playing field ("give notice", "hold hearings" etc), but others work to tilt the playing field ("buy American," "recruit local workers.") The effects of contextual goals on public administration: - to worry more about rules and procedures than outcomes (it is hard to hold managers accountable for attaining a goal, easy to hold them accountable for conforming to the rules. and very often contextual goals and rules are defended by powerful interests.) - increasing importance of contextual goals enhances the power of the courts and other interests over bureaucratic processes (The rules conferred rights; courts exist to enforce rights.). -equity becomes more important than efficiency in the management of many government agencies; equity issues always seem easier to judge than efficiency and effectiveness issues (We cannot easily say whether the pupils were educated, the streets made safer, or some diseases prevented; but we can say whether every pupil got the same textbook, every citizen got the same police response, and every patient got the same vaccine.). - managers become more risk averse (Police administrators rarely lose their jobs because the crime rate has gone up or win promotion because it has gone down. They can easily lose their jobs if somebody persuasively argues that the police has abused a citizen, beaten a prisoner, or failed to answer a call for service.). -standard operating procedures are developed to reduce the chance that an important contextual goal is not violated. - pushing more discretionary authority upward to the top (If the administrator is going to get into trouble for what an operator does, the former will find ways to making the decision for the latter.). Universal phenomenon or national variations? - “a European would be astonished to learn that in the United States citizens can read many government files but the government can read few citizen files. In Europe it tend to be just the opposite.” Discussion Questions: 1. Which of the three approaches better describe public administration in Hong Kong and why? 2. What are the primary goals of your organization? Does your organization have any contextual goals? What are they? How do they affect your and your colleagues' work? What purposes do these contextual goals serve?