1. The idea of a “politics-administration dichotomy” has had a lot of influence in American reform thinking in public administration. Discuss the dichotomy. Discuss how the dichotomy is supported and opposed. Finally, tell me what you think about it (300-350 words)
Trace the development of American public administration from the founding to the present day. Explain how the focus of the profession has changed (making sure to include SPECIFIC examples).
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An Action Orientation Seventh Edition
R O B E R T B . D E N H A R D T University of Southern California
J A N E T V. D E N H A R D T University of Southern California
TA R A A . B l A N c Arizona State University
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Public Administration: An Action Orientation, Seventh Edition Robert B. Denhardt, Janet V. Denhardt, and Tara A. Blanc
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For all our children
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About thE AuthoRS xviii
ChAPtER 1 PERSonAl ACtIon In PublIC oRgAnIZAtIonS 1
What Is Public Administration? 2 Values of Democracy 3 Contrasting Business and Public Administration 5
Ambiguity 6 Pluralistic Decision Making 6 Visibility 7
Thinking about Public Administration Today 7 Publicness 8 The Global Context 9
What Do Public Administrators Do? 10 An Inventory of Public Management Skills 11 Voices of Public Administrators 13
Why Study Public Administration? 14 Preparing for Administrative Positions 16 Combining Technical and Managerial Training 17 Interaction of Business and Government 18 Influencing Public Organizations 19 Making Things Happen 20
Issues in Public Administration Theory and Practice 22 Politics and Administration 22
Ensuring Accountability 23 Bureaucracy and Democracy 24 Efficiency versus Responsiveness 25
Summary and Action Implications 26 Study Questions 26 Cases and Exercises 27 For Additional Reading 30 Appendix: Office of Personnel Management List of Core Executive Qualifications 31
ChAPtER 2 thE PolItICAl ContEXt oF PublIC AdmInIStRAtIon 35
Administrative Organizations and Executive Leadership 36 Administrative Organizations 39
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v i Contents
The Executive Office of the President 39 Cabinet-Level Executive Departments 40 Independent Agencies, Regulatory Commissions, and Public Corporations 41 Agencies Supporting the Legislature and the Judiciary 41
The State Level 42 The Local Level 44
Cities 44 Counties 46 Native American Tribes 46 Special Purpose Governments 47 Nonprofit Organizations and Associations 48
Relationships with the Legislative Body 49 The Policy Process 50
Agenda Setting 50 Policy Formulation 52 Policy Legitimation 53 Policy Implementation 54 Policy Evaluation and Change 55
Types of Policy 55 Regulatory Policy 55 Distributive Policy 57 Redistributive Policy 57 Constituent Policy 58
Sources of Bureaucratic Power 59 Legislative Supervision: Structural Controls 61
Legislative Veto 62 Sunset Laws 63 Sunshine Laws 63 Agency Conduct 64
Legislative Supervision: Oversight 65 Legislative Supervision: Casework 66
Relationships with the Judiciary 67 Quasi-Legislative Action 67 Quasi-Judicial Action 69 Agency Discretion 69 Judicial Review 70 Concerns for Due Process 71 The Courts and Agency Administration 72
Summary and Action Implications 74
Study Questions 75
Cases and Exercises 76
For Additional Reading 77
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Contents v i i
ChAPtER 3 thE IntERoRgAnIZAtIonAl ContEXt oF PublIC AdmInIStRAtIon 79
The Development of Intergovernmental Relations 82 Dual Federalism 84 Cooperative Federalism 85 Picket-Fence Federalism 86 The Reagan and First Bush Years 89 The Clinton Presidency 90 The Bush Administration 91 Obama and Federalism 94 Judicial Influence 96
The State and Local Perspective 98 Funding Patterns 98 Preemptions and Mandates 99
Preemptions 99 Mandates 102
Subnational Relationships 104 State to State 104 State to Local 105 Local to Local 107
Working with Nongovernmental Organizations 108 Privatization and Contracting 109
The Management of Nonprofit Organizations 114 Operational Leadership 114 Resource Development 115 Financial Management 116 Board Governance 117 Board-Staff Relations 118 Advocacy 119
Summary and Action Implications 119
Study Questions 120
Cases and Exercises 121
For Additional Reading 122
ChAPtER 4 PlAnnIng, ImPlEmEntAtIon, And EVAluAtIon 123 Planning 124
Strategic Planning 125 Planning for Planning 125 Organizing for Planning 127 Steps in Planning 127
Statement of Mission or Objectives 128 Environmental Analysis 128 Assessment of Strengths and Weaknesses 128
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v i i i Contents
Analysis of Organizational Leaders’ Values 129 Development of Alternative Strategies 129
The Logic of Policy Analysis 129 Steps in Policy Analysis 130
Defining the Problem 130 Setting Objectives and Criteria 131 Developing Alternatives 132 Analyzing Various Policies 132 Ranking and Choosing 133
Costs and Benefits 133 Other Quantitative Techniques 134
Implementation 138 Organizational Design 139 Systems Analysis 141 Reengineering 143
Evaluation 144 Program Evaluation 145 Evaluation Designs and Techniques 146
Qualitative Techniques 147 Quantitative Techniques 148
Summary and Action Implications 149
Study Questions 150
Cases and Exercises 150
For Additional Reading 152
ChAPtER 5 budgEtIng And FInAnCIAl mAnAgEmEnt 155
The Budget as an Instrument of Fiscal Policy 156
The Budget as an Instrument of Public Policy 157 Where the Money Comes From 158
Individual Income Tax 159 Corporation Income Tax 159 Payroll Taxes 160 Sales and Excise Taxes 160 Property Taxes 160 Other Revenue Sources 161
Where the Money Goes 161 From Deficits to Surplus and Back 163
The Bush Tax Plan 165 Obama and Economic Recovery 166
State and Local Expenditures 167
The Budget as a Managerial Tool 169 Budget Formulation 169
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Contents i x
Budget Approval 172 Budget Execution 174 Audit Phase 176
Approaches to Public Budgeting 176 The Line-Item Budget 177 The Performance Budget 178 Program Budgeting 179 Outcome-Based Budgeting 181 Budgetary Strategies and Political Games 181 Strategies for Program Development 182
Aspects of Financial Management 184 Capital Budgeting 184 Debt Management 186 Risk Management 187 Purchasing 187
Accounting and Related Information Systems 188 Government Accounting 188 Computer-Based Information Systems 190
Summary and Action Implications 191
Study Questions 192
Cases and Exercises 193
For Additional Reading 200
ChAPtER 6 thE mAnAgEmEnt oF humAn RESouRCES 203
Merit Systems in Public Employment 204 Spoils versus Merit 204 The Civil Service Reform Act and Its Aftermath 208 Reinvention and the National Performance Review 210 State and Local Personnel Systems 212
Hiring, Firing, and Things in Between 213 Classification Systems 213 The Recruitment Process 214 Pay Systems 217 Conditions of Employment and Related Matters 218 Sexual Harassment 219 AIDS Policy 220 Workplace Violence 221 Removing Employees 221 Personnel Reform Efforts 222
The Changing Character of Labor-Management Relations 224 Steps in the Bargaining Process 227
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To Strike or Not to Strike 229 Unions Redefined 230
Correcting Patterns of Discrimination in Public Employment 232
Americans with Disabilities Act 233 Questions of Compliance 234 Affirmative Action and Reverse Discrimination 236 The Glass Ceiling 238 Relations between Political Appointees and Career Executives 239
Summary and Action Implications 241
Study Questions 242
Cases and Exercises 243
For Additional Reading 246
ChAPtER 7 thE EthICS oF PublIC SERVICE 249
Approaches to Ethical Deliberation 249 Reasoning, Development, and Action 251
Moral Philosophy 252 Moral Psychology 253 Moral Action 255
Postmodern Ethics 257
Issues of Administrative Responsibility 259 The Limits of Administrative Discretion 260 Avenues for Public Participation 263 Transparency in Government 265 The Ethics of Privatization 266
Ethical Problems for the Individual 267 Interacting with Elected Officials 267 Following Orders 268 Conflicts of Interest 270 Whistle-Blowing 273 Prohibitions on Political Activities 275
Managing Ethics 277 Establishing an Ethical Climate 278
Summary and Action Implications 280
Study Questions 281
Cases and Exercises 281
For Additional Reading 284
Appendix: Code of Ethics of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) 285
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Contents x i
ChAPtER 8 dESIgnIng And mAnAgIng oRgAnIZAtIonS 289
The Organizational Context 289
Images of Organizing in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors 291
The Functions of Management 292 The Early Writers: A Concern for Structure 294
Recognizing Human Behavior 298 Two Classic Works 300
The Organization and Its Environment 302 Systems Theory 302 From Political Economy to Organization Development 304 Decision Making in Organizations 305
Organizational Culture, Organizational Learning, and Strategic Management 307
Guidelines for Public Management 313
Postmodern Narratives on Management 315 Postmodernism 315 Issues of Gender and Power 316
Summary and Action Implications 317
Study Questions 318
Cases and Exercises 318
For Additional Reading 319
ChAPtER 9 lEAdERShIP And mAnAgEmEnt SkIllS In PublIC oRgAnIZAtIonS 323
Leadership and Power 324
Communication 331 Listening 331
Have a Reason or Purpose 332 Suspend Judgment Initially 332 Resist Distractions 332 Wait before Responding 333 Rephrase What You Listen To in Your Own Words 333 Seek the Important Themes 333 Use the Thinking-Speaking Differential to Reflect and Find Meaning 334
Speaking 334 Writing 335
Delegation and Motivation 336 Delegation 336 Motivation 337
Pay and Job Satisfaction 337 Reinforcement Theory 338 Goal Setting 340
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x i i Contents
Individual Decision Making 342
Group Dynamics 345 Advantages of Group Decision Making 345 Disadvantages of Group Decision Making 346 Interpersonal Dynamics in Groups 348 Specialized Techniques for Group Decision Making 349 Conflict, Bargaining, and Negotiation 350
Summary and Action Implications 352
Study Questions 353
Cases and Exercises 354
For Additional Reading 357
Appendix: “Lost on the Moon” Exercise: Answers from NASA Experts 358
ChAPtER 10 AdmInIStRAtIVE REFoRm, PRoduCtIVItY, And PERFoRmAnCE 361
New Public Management, Reinvention, the Management Agenda, and Nonprofit Reform 363
The New Public Management 363 Reinventing Government 364 The Management Agenda 365 Nonprofit Management Reform 366 The Results of NPM and Reinvention 368
Information and Communication Technologies 369 Technology and Management Reform 370 E-Government and E-Governance 371
Performance Measurement 374 Implementation Issues in Quality and Productivity 384 Steps to Productivity Improvement 385
Summary and Action Implications 388
Study Questions 389
Cases and Exercises 390
For Additional Reading 391
ChAPtER 11 oPPoRtunItIES FoR thE FutuRE: globAlIZAtIon, dEmoCRACY, And thE nEw PublIC SERVICE 393
The Importance of Public Service 393
Trends in Public Service 394 Economic Changes and Redefining Government 394
The Role of Citizens in the Governance Process 398
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Contents x i i i
Ethics and the Imperatives of Good Governance 402
A Final Note 404
Study Questions 405
Cases and Exercises 405
For Additional Reading 406
glossar y 407
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The seventh edition of Public Administration: An Action Orientation updates the text by taking it through President Obama’s first term and into his second term, follow- ing a very close election. It discusses the implications of the recent economic crisis, explores the resulting budget deficits at all levels of government as well as the increase in the national debt, considers the possible ramifications of the Obama health care reform effort, and covers recent political moves to limit collective bargaining for public employees.
Most notably, the book has been revised to more completely examine performance in government, on the one hand, and efforts to engage citizens in the work of public and nonprofit organizations, on the other hand. Placed in the context of the history of reform in the field, we now have extended our discussion of management reforms such as the New Public Management, updated material on advances in information and com- munication technology, and given more emphasis to performance management systems. In addition, we have included important new material dealing with leadership, organi- zational theory, and bureaucracy; expanded the discussion of special purpose govern- ments, including school districts; and given a closer look at the increasingly important connection between public administration and civic action or citizenship. We particu- larly emphasize new efforts to promote transparency, collaboration, and participation in public and nonprofit organizations, with much of this discussion centering on the New Public Service. We have once again reordered the chapters to create a more logical progression of material given the large number of revisions since the organization of the previous edition. Additionally, new vignettes asking “What Would You Do?” give students the opportunity to think about and discuss their responses to specific and real- istic challenges in public service. Finally, we have inserted in each chapter a reference to CourseReader. CourseReader for Public Administration: An Action Orientation
ISBN-13: 9781133939214 (Public Administration: An Action Orientation with Printed Access Card for CourseReader)
CourseReader 0-30 PAC ISBN-13: 9781133350385 (Printed Access Card) CourseReader 0-30 IAC ISBN-13: 9781133350378 (Instant Access Code)
In addition to reviewing important public administration issues, we have selected cer- tain readings that highlight the focus of each chapter. Assigning readings can often be a difficult process. Within each chapter, you will come across reading assignments that are easily accessible within the Cengage Learning CourseReader. We have designed the CourseReader selections to tie in seamlessly with the section material. Keeping in mind that we must make the most of the time today’s busy students can allocate to extra reading, we’ve handpicked one selection per chapter that will add the most to their study, reinforce the concepts from the text, and help them apply what they’ve learned to events around them. You may assign the questions that accompany the readings as graded or completion- based homework or use them to spark in-class discussion.
x i v
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Preface x v
CourseReader is an easy-to-use and affordable option to create an online collection of readings for your course, and this is the first and only introductory book to political sci- ence offering a customizable e-reader. You may assign the readings we’ve recommended for each chapter without any additional setup, or you can choose to create and customize a reader specifically for your class from the thousands of text documents and media clips within CourseReader. You can also
● add your own notes and highlight sections within a reading. ● edit the introductions to the readings. ● assign due dates using the pop-up calendar. ● easily organize your selections using the drag-and-drop feature.
You can view a demo of CourseReader at www.cengage.com/coursereader.
Companion Website for Public Administration: An Action Orientation ISBN 13: 9781133938712
Students will find open access to tutorial quizzes for every chapter, while instructors have access to the Instructor’s Manual for Public Administration: An Action Orientation.
Instructor’s Manual for Public Administration: An Action Orientation online ISBN 13: 9781133949145
The Instructor’s Manual includes an introduction on teaching public administration, ideas on preparing and designing a syllabus, a section on using supplementary textbooks, an overview and test bank including multiple-choice, true/false, and essay questions for each chapter, and a section on ideas for class activities.
Like previous editions, the seventh edition contains subtle but telling differences from other books in the field. We assume that students in an introductory course in public administration don’t want to learn about the profession only in the abstract, but are inter- ested in influencing the operations of public agencies, as managers from the inside or as citizens from the outside. They want to acquire the skills necessary for changing things for the better.
For this reason, it is important that the text not only introduce students to the schol- arly literature of public administration, but also that it helps them develop the insights and abilities that will make them more effective and responsible actors. This book con- tains a good deal of material that is basic to working in or with public organizations. At the same time, the discussion attends to the complex and often confounding values that distinguish work in the public sector. Most significant, however, is the focus on personal values and interpersonal skills that are crucial to effecting change in public organizations.
Another feature of the book is its balanced attention to the work of managers at all levels of government and in nonprofit organizations. Although the federal government is a powerful model for the study of public administration, managers of state and local agen- cies are important actors in the governmental process, and their work is acknowledged and examined as well. Similarly, we show how managers of associations, nonprofit and “third- sector” organizations, and even traditionally private organizations are now confronting
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x v i Preface
the same issues faced by administrators in the public sector. In fact, we frequently use the term public organizations to describe all such groups involved in the management of pub- lic programs.
This edition also gives proper attention to the global dimensions of public administra- tion today. No longer is administrators’ work confined to their own organizations or even to their own jurisdictions. The complexity of modern life means, among other things, that administrators must be attentive to developments around the world as well as to those at home. Decisions made in a foreign capital may affect the work of a public administrator even more significantly than those made only miles away. Today, knowledge of interna- tional affairs and comparative issues is important not only to those who work in other countries but also to all who work in public administration.
Public Administration: An Action Orientation remains distinctive in its treatment of the ethics of public service. The topic of ethics is thoroughly covered in a separate chap- ter, and references to ethical concerns appear throughout the text. Ethical issues cannot be separated from action. Indeed, every act of every public servant, at whatever level of government or in any related organization, has an important ethical dimension. For this reason, we have made a strong effort to discuss the ethical considerations that are a part of all administrative activities.
Finally, Public Administration: An Action Orientation was the first text on this subject to be fully integrated with the Internet resources that are available to assist public admin- istrators and those studying public administration. In each chapter, we highlight “net- working” resources available to students, including websites that contain material that supplements the text, provides examples and case studies, and links the student to other materials available online.
In this text we talk about action, but we also invite students to act. At the end of each chapter are self-diagnostic materials and exercises (cases, simulations, discussion points, and so on) designed to supplement students’ cognitive learning with behavioral practice. These activities impart a sense of not only what public administration looks like to the impartial observer, but also what it feels like to the manager or private individual engaged in public action. Students have opportunities to test, practice, and improve their skills. We have included a list of key terms and definitions in the glossary and have recommended additional readings in each chapter. There are very exciting possibilities in public admin- istration today. Working to solve important public problems, sensing the human drama involved in such work, and gaining the satisfaction of doing something really worthwhile make being involved in public organizations quite fascinating. The perspective adopted here—focusing on the experiences of people acting in the real world of public organiza- tions and on the skills needed for managerial success—permits a lively and interesting pre- sentation of the field. We particularly hope to convey, in a personal and direct manner, the challenges and rewards of public service.
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Many people contributed to this book. From our work with members of the American Society for Public Administration, the National Academy of Public Administration, the International City Management Association, and the Alliance for Innovation, we have gained special appreciation of the complexity of public management and of the dedica- tion and hard work required for public service. We hope we have conveyed the commit- ment and concern that guide the work of the best public managers; they deserve great credit and respect.
In the first edition of the text, Bob’s colleagues in the Department of Public Adminis- tration at the University of Missouri-Columbia were a great source of help and support. In subsequent editions, good colleagues and friends at the University of Colorado, the University of Delaware, Arizona State University, and the University of Southern California have made important contributions.
We wish to thank the reviewers who provided invaluable feedback on the sixth edition for our use in creating this new edition. They are Marcus Castro, University of La Verne; William Riggs, Texas A&M International University; Cryshanna Jackson, Youngstown State University; Willie Britt, Golden Gate University; and Bradley Best, Buena Vista University.
Finally, this book is dedicated to all of our children, who have been a constant source of joy, wonderment, and pride. Thanks to all.
Robert B. Denhardt, Janet V. Denhardt, and Tara A. Blanc
x v i i
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ABOuT THE AuTHORS
Robert B. Denhardt is Senior Fellow in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California, Regents Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University, and Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of Delaware. Dr. Denhardt is a past president of the American Society for Public Administration and a member of the National Academy of Public Administration. He has published twenty-two books, including The Dance of Leadership, The New Public Service, Managing Human Behavior in Public and Nonprofit Organizations, Theories of Public Organization, Public Administration: An Action Orientation, In the Shadow of Organization, and The Pursuit of Significance.
Janet V. Denhardt is the Chester A. Newland Professor of Public Administration in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. Her teaching and research interests focus on organization theory, organizational behavior, and leader- ship. Her most recent book, The Dance of Leadership, was preceded by The New Public Service, Managing Human Behavior in Public and Nonprofit Organizations, and Street- Level Leadership: Discretion and Legitimacy in Front-Line Public Service. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Southern California, Dr. Denhardt taught at Arizona State University and Eastern Washington University and served in a variety of administrative and consulting positions.
Tara A. Blanc is a lecturer in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University. Her teaching and research interests are primarily in the areas of public service, civic and politi- cal engagement, leadership, and public service ethics. Formerly the associate director of the Cronkite/Eight Poll at Arizona State University, she codirects a public opinion poll for ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy and provides consulting services on projects involving public opinion research, planning, and communication.
x v i i i
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C H A P T E R
1 PERSONAL ACTION IN PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS
Public administration is concerned with the management of public programs. Public administrators work at all levels of government, both at home and abroad, and they manage nonprofit organizations, associations, and interest groups of all kinds. The sub- stantive fields within which public managers work range across the varied interests of government and public affairs, from defense and national security to social welfare and environmental quality, from the design and construction of roads and bridges to the explo- ration of space, and from taxation and financial administration to human resources man- agement. Though public administration varies tremendously in its scope and substance, those who work in public organizations share certain commitments. Among these, none is more important than a commitment to public service.
In this book, we examine the work of public administrators in many different kinds of organizations and define the political and historical context within which public and nonprofit organizations operate. We examine the commitments that underlie the notion of public service and the opportunities and constraints they place on public action. We examine the many technical fields, such as planning, budgeting, personnel, and evaluation, with which public administrators must be familiar and consider the personal and interper- sonal talents needed by successful public managers. Most importantly, we emphasize the knowledge, skills, and values that you will need to be both effective and responsible as you act in the public interest.
Although we introduce many different areas of public administration, we do so from a particular point of view that provides a unifying theme in our examination of admin- istrative work in public and nonprofit organizations. This point of view holds that there is something very special about public administration: your work in public service is distinguished by its pursuit of democratic values, and this concern affects nearly every- thing you do as a public manager. As a public administrator, you are obligated not only to achieve efficiency and effectiveness, but also to be responsive to the many bodies that help define the public interest: elected officials, members of the legislature, client or constituent groups, and citizens generally. This special obligation requires that you be ever mindful of managerial concerns, political concerns, and ethical concerns and that you develop struc- tures and processes that take into account all three. The result is a particularly compli- cated approach to getting things done, but one that has special rewards. From service to the public, you may gain a very special sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction, one that comes from helping others and from pursuing the public interest.
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2 Chapter 1 Personal Action in Public Organizations
What Is Public Administration? We have already described public administration as the management of public programs. But to elaborate on this definition, it helps to know a little history. Happily, there is only a little history to learn because public administration, at least in this country, is a relatively young field of study. Of course, people have been engaged in the management of public programs for thousands of years. (For example, imagine the administrative headaches involved in building the Egyptian pyramids!) However, the self-conscious study of public administration is a fairly recent development, often dated to the work of French and German scholars in the late nineteenth century. Public administration as we know it today in the United States began as the study of government administration, and that study began as part of late-nineteenth-century efforts to reform governmental operations. Most scholars and practitioners date the beginnings of the deliberate study of public admin- istration in this country to an 1887 essay written by Woodrow Wilson (then scholar, later president). Although some have recently questioned the influence Wilson had on the field, there is no question that his essay marks the symbolic beginning of American public administration.
Wilson’s essay was basically reformist in nature, and highly practical. It was designed to address the inefficiency and open corruption that had become a part of government during the late 1880s and to suggest certain remedies within the administration of government. Wilson argued that although scholars and practitioners had focused on political institu- tions (such as Congress or the presidency), too little attention had been paid to admin- istrative questions—the questions of how the government actually operates. The result, according to Wilson, was that it was becoming “harder to run a constitution than to frame one” (Wilson, 1887, p. 200). Wilson first wanted the work of government agencies to be accomplished more effectively. He felt that such organizations would operate best if they pursued the private sector’s commitment to efficient or “businesslike” operations. Wilson, of course, wrote in a period during which business, industry, and technology were devel- oping in rapid and surprising new ways. Like others, he admired the managerial philoso- phies that business seemed to be developing. Among these notions, Wilson particularly favored the idea of concentrating power in a single authority atop a highly integrated and centralized administrative structure. His recommendation of a strong chief executive has been echoed by writers (and chief executives!) even to the present.
The men and women who followed Wilson in discussions of what came to be called public administration were very practical people, concerned with reforming governmen- tal structures and making them more efficient. But they were also quite careful to place these concerns within the context of democratic government. How might the principles of democracy, including such lofty ideals as liberty and justice, be extended throughout gov- ernment and throughout society? Indeed, Leonard D. White, one of the most thoughtful of the early writers, commented that “the study of public administration . . . needs to be related to the broad generalizations of political theory concerned with such matters as justice, lib- erty, obedience, and the role of the state in human affairs” (White, 1948, p. 10). As we will see, a continued concern for operating efficiently while at the same time operating in a way consistent with democratic values marks the field of public administration even today.
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What Is Public Administration? 3
Values of Democracy
Because their commitment to democratic values so clearly affects the work of those in public and nonprofit organizations in this country, it may be helpful to briefly review some of the key commitments we associate with democratic governance. The term democracy well reflects its roots: the Greek words demos, meaning “people,” and kratis, meaning “authority.” Generally speaking, democracy refers to a political system in which the inter- ests of the people at large prevail. However, it is clear that within these broad parameters there are many different conceptions of democracy. For example, at the end of World War II, representatives of the United States, Great Britain, France, and Russia met to con- sider the “democratization” of Germany. Yet, it soon became apparent that the Russian idea of democracy was quite different from the Western view. While Westerners associated democracy with such ideas as free elections, freedom of the press, freedom of movement, and the freedom to criticize the government, the Russians had quite a different conception. For them, democracy did not necessarily mean government by or of the people, but rather whether government policy is carried out in the interest of the people.
Even today, the term democratic is used in many different ways by many different peo- ple. For example, North Korea, a highly authoritarian state, claims aspects of democracy such as a multiparty system. In the American experience, however, there is general agree- ment that democracy refers to a political system—a way of ordering power and authority in which decision-making power is widely shared among members of the society. Or to put it in terms of control, democracy is a system in which many ordinary citizens exercise a high degree of control over their leaders. (In either case, the opposite would be an oligarchy, government by the few, or an autocracy, government by one.)
But democracy is defined not only in terms of processes or procedures (for example, rule by many), but also by several important cultural values that are typically pursued in a democratic society. Among these, three—individualism, equality, and liberty—have been of special importance to those who have helped shape the American idea of democracy. The first is individualism, the idea that the dignity and integrity of the individual is of supreme importance. Individualism suggests that achieving the fullest potential of each individual is the best measure of the success of our political system. It is the idea of indi- vidualism that is reflected in the familiar phrasing of the Declaration of Independence— that all persons are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and that it is the purpose of government to secure those rights.
Second is the idea of equality, which does not mean that all persons are equal in their talents or possessions, but that each individual has an equal claim to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In this view, each person should be seen as an end, not as a means; no one should be a mere tool of another. Moreover, equality in the field of government would suggest that differences in wealth or position are not sufficient reasons for giving one group preference over another. In a democracy, each one has an equal claim to the atten- tion of the system and should be able to expect just outcomes.
A third central value of a democratic society is liberty, or freedom. This idea suggests that the individual citizen of a democracy should have a high degree of self-determination. You should have the maximum opportunity to select your own purposes in life and to
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choose the means to accomplish them. Liberty is more than just the absence of constraints; it suggests the freedom to act positively in pursuit of one’s own ends. Only by allowing individuals the freedom to choose, it is argued, will social progress occur.
The influence of these themes on the development of public administration is undeni- able, although, as we will see, people differ over the degree to which they influence the day-to-day operations of public agencies. Similarly, the way in which democracy has been operationalized in the American political tradition has had important influences on the operation of public organizations. For example, take the traditional separation of legislative, executive, and judicial functions. The primary task of the legislative branch is to make policy through the enactment of legislation, the primary task of the executive branch is the faithful execution or implementation of policy, and the primary task of the judicial branch is the interpretation of the law, especially as it relates to constitutional guarantees.
David Rosenbloom of American University has argued that these three functions of government are related to three views of the role of public administrators in American society (Rosenbloom, 1993, p. 15): 1. The managerial approach to public administration, which Rosenbloom connects to
the executive function, emphasizes the management and organization of public orga- nizations. As with Wilson, this view sometimes suggests that management in the pub- lic sector is very much like that in the private sector; that is, it is primarily concerned with efficiency.
2. The political approach to public administration, related to the legislative function in government, is more concerned about ensuring constitutional safeguards, such as those already mentioned. Efficiency becomes less a concern than effectiveness or responsiveness.
3. Finally, the legal approach to public administration, related to the judicial function, emphasizes the administrator’s role in applying and enforcing the law in specific situ- ations. It is also concerned with the adjudicatory role of public organizations.
Although we will examine these various approaches in more detail as we move through the book, it is important to understand at the outset that all actions of public administra- tors take place within an important political context: a commitment to democratic ideals and practices. Yet, today, that ideal is somewhat tarnished. Americans’ trust in govern- ment has been steadily declining over the last several decades. Questions are being raised not only about the quality and productivity of government, but also about the respon- siveness of government to the people (see the box “Public Administration in History: The Democratic Dream”). This tension will be a persistent theme as we examine contempo- rary approaches to the study and practice of public administration. Borrowing a phrase from earlier times, the task of public administrators today is still to “make democracy suitable for modern conditions.” Doing so in a time of confusion and mistrust will be a special challenge to those in public administration as we move through the twenty-first century. Restoring trust in government and public service is not merely a responsibility of elected officials; it is a responsibility of appointed administrators as well. Keep this in mind as we examine the various approaches and techniques that are appropriate to public administration today.
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THE DEMOCRATIC DREAM
The predominant American political belief—attained, pretended, or otherwise—from before the establishment of the republic and throughout the nation’s history has been the democratic dream, nominally based on some version of popular representation and governance. Virtually every political structure and reform has been predicated on some mode of the democratic, egalitarian ethos, even as they oscillated back and forth between its Jeffersonian and Hamilto- nian poles. Indeed, to imagine a widespread domestic political movement (and probably foreign policy initiative) that does not in some very visible manner drape itself in the sacred vestment of democracy is inconceivable.
It is in this ambience that American political philosophies, politics themselves, and even certain professions (e.g., public administration) were created and nurtured. Not surprisingly, public service and public administration in the United States have shared a similar democratic coloration. From the early days of the professional public administrator—when Woodrow Wilson temporarily partitioned “politics” and “administration” into separate entities—we find a solid stream of democratic theory underpinning and underlining contemporary public administration.
But the Constitution cannot serve as a singular political poultice for whatever ails the body politic. Within the country at large, there is a tangible sense that as often as appeals are made to the nation’s democratic benchmarks, these are more calls to a fading faith than references to reality. Americans are apparently disenchanted with their politics, both in terms of substance and process. Our public life is rife with discontent. Americans do not believe they have much to say about how they are governed and do not trust government to do the right thing.
SOURCE: Reprinted by permission from Democracy and the Policy Sciences by Peter deLeon, State University of New York Press, © 1997, State University of New York. All rights reserved.
Public Administration in History
Contrasting Business and Public Administration
One issue, however, deserves further comment up front. Even though work in public and nonprofit organizations is guided by commitments to democratic ideals, it is also involved with management, and, for that reason, public administration is often confused with busi- ness management. Indeed, such confusion has occasionally been prominent in the field of public administration. (As we have already seen, early writers in the field often suggested that government should become more like business, a sentiment heard even today.) Certainly, there are some similarities between business and public administration. Managers across all sectors—public, private, and nonprofit—are involved in questions of organizational design, the allocation of scarce resources, and the management of people. But most observers would agree that the primary distinction between business and public service is that business is
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primarily concerned with making a profit, while public service is concerned with delivering services or regulating individual or group behavior in the public interest. All would agree that the context of public and nonprofit management significantly alters the work itself. Non- profit management is characterized by ambiguity, pluralistic decision making, and visibility (see the box “Exploring Concepts: Public Administration Is Different from Business”).
PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION IS DIFFERENT FROM BUSINESS
● The objectives are much more ambiguous. ● There are multiple decision centers. ● Public administrators operate with much greater visibility.
Ambiguity One difference between public administration and business management lies in the purposes to be served. In most businesses, even those with service objectives, the bot- tom-line profit is the basic measure of evaluating how good a job the organization is doing. In turn, the performance of individual managers can, in many cases, be directly measured in terms of their unit’s contribution to the overall profit of the company. This is not true of public or nonprofit agencies, where the objectives of the organization may be more ambig- uous and where making or losing money is not the main criterion for success or failure.
Often the objectives of public and nonprofit organizations are stated in terms of ser- vice; for example, an agency’s mission may be to protect the quality of the environment or to provide an adequate level of rehabilitative services to the disabled. Yet, such service objectives are much harder to specify and to measure. What does “quality” mean with respect to the environment? What level of service to the disabled is “adequate”? The dif- ficulty of specifying objectives such as these makes it harder to assess the performance of government agencies and, in turn, their managers. Moreover, most businesses wouldn’t tolerate a money-losing operation in a depressed area, but a public or nonprofit organi- zation, though equally attentive to the money being spent, might well consider meeting human needs more important than the financial “bottom line.”
Pluralistic Decision Making A second difference between work in public service and in business is that public service, at least in a democratic society, requires that many groups and individuals have access to the decision process. As a result, decisions that might be made rapidly by one individual or a small group in a business might, in a public or non- profit organization, require input from many diverse groups and organizations. Con- sequently, it is difficult to speak of specific decision centers in government. W. Michael Blumenthal, a business executive who became secretary of the treasury, described the situation this way:
If the President said to me, you develop [an economic policy toward Japan], Mike, the moment that becomes known there are innumerable interest groups that begin to play a role. The House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and every
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member on them and every staff member has an opinion and seeks to exert influence. Also, the Foreign Relations Committee, the oversight committees, and then the interest groups, business, the unions, the State Department, the Commerce Department, OMB, Council of Economic Advisers, and not only the top people, but all their staff people, not to speak of the President’s staff and the entire press. (Blumenthal, 1983, p. 30)
The pluralistic nature of public decision making has led many business executives who have worked in the public or nonprofit sectors to comment that this feature makes pub- lic and nonprofit management much more difficult than management in the private sec- tor. But, as Blumenthal points out, “the diversity of interests seeking to affect policy is the nature and essence of democratic government” (Blumenthal, 1983, pp. 30–31). Many have also found that this aspect of public service is particularly challenging and rewarding.
Visibility Finally, managers in public and nonprofit organizations seem to operate with much greater visibility than their counterparts in industry. Public service in a democratic society is subject to constant scrutiny by both the press and the public. The media seem to cover everything you do, and this may be a mixed blessing. On the one hand, media coverage enables the leaders of the organization to communicate rapidly to external and internal audiences. On the other hand, the media’s constant scrutiny of policy positions and their labeling of inconsistencies and policy differences as weaknesses can be limiting to free discussion of issues in their formulation stage. And, of course, the occasional intru- sions of the press into even the most mundane personal matters can be excessive; one local newspaper even reported a problem a new city manager was having with his refrigera- tor! Yet, executives in government realize that it is essential to a democratic society that their work be visible to the public and subject to the interest and control of the citizenry. Indeed, one of the current concerns of public executives is how to increase the “transparency” of their work, something we will explore in more detail later.
You have just been appointed city manager of a city of 30,000 in the upper Midwest. While the economy of the area is generally stable, there is talk of one of the area’s major industrial firms moving out, taking much-needed jobs from the community. On the other hand, that firm has been a persistent contributor to pollution in the area. The city council seems evenly divided on whether to make an effort to keep the firm and its jobs or simply let it go. In your first six months on the job, what would you do?
What Would You Do?
Thinking about Public Administration Today
With this background, we can now think more carefully about how the field of public administration has traditionally been described and how we might develop an action ori- entation toward the study of public administration suitable to a contemporary world. In terms of definition, many early writers spoke of administration as a function of government,
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something that occurred in many shapes and forms throughout government. There were obvi- ously administrative activities performed in the executive branch, but there were also adminis- trative functions performed in the legislative and judicial branches. Some even noted that from time to time any single official might engage in both legislative and administrative functions.
Somewhat later, public administration was viewed as merely concerned with the activi- ties of the executive agencies of government. In the words of an early text, public adminis- tration is concerned with the “operations of the administrative branch only” (Willoughby, 1927, p. 1). By the 1950s, such a perspective was so firmly entrenched that the leading text of that period stated, “By public administration is meant, in common usage, the activities of the executive branches of national, state, and local governments; independent boards and commissions set up by Congress and state legislatures; government corporations; and certain other agencies of a specialized character” (Simon et al., 1950, p. 7). Modern defi- nitions of public administration have returned to the traditional view, giving attention to administrative officials in all branches of government and even focusing on those in non- profit organizations.
For our purposes, a formal definition of the field may be less important than trying to discover how public administration is experienced by those in the “real world.” Our com- mitment to an action orientation suggests that we try to determine the kinds of activities engaged in by public administrators and the environmental factors that help to shape their work. We have already seen how the ambiguity of service objectives, the pluralistic nature of governmental decision making, and the visibility of management in the public and non- profit sectors create a context in which managerial work is significantly different from that in other settings. From the standpoint of the real-world administrator, the things that really make the difference in the way you operate are not whether you are employed by a government agency, but whether you work under circumstances that feature an ambiguity of objectives, a multiplicity of decision centers, and high public visibility.
The leading national organization for those in the field of public administration is the American Society for Public Administration. See www.aspanet.org. Other related organi- zations with helpful websites include the National Academy of Public Administration at www.napawash.org; the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management at www.appam.org; the International City Management Association at www.icma.org; the American Political Science Association at www.apsanet.org; the Alliance for Nonprofit Management at www.allianceonline.org; the Independent Sector at www.independentsector.org; and the Academy of Management, Public and Nonprofit Division at http://division.aomonline.org/pnp/.
Publicness These features in turn all derive from the simple fact that the public or non- profit manager is pursuing public purposes. In terms of the actions and experiences of the public administrator, therefore, we may say that it is the “publicness” of the work of the public or nonprofit manager that distinguishes public administration from other
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similar activities. This view of the administrator’s role suggests that, as a public or non- profit manager, you must operate with one eye toward managerial effectiveness and the other toward the desires and demands of the public. It recognizes that you are likely to experience an inevitable tension between efficiency and responsiveness as you work in governmental or nongovernmental organizations, a tension that will be absolutely cen- tral to your work.
Let us highlight some of the implications of this orientation. Many commentators point out that the distinction between public and private management is no longer sim- ply a distinction between business and government or between profit and service. In fact, more and more frequently, we encounter situations in which traditionally public organizations are pursuing enhanced revenues (profits?), and traditionally private orga- nizations are concerned with the provision of services. What is important is not merely what is being sought, but rather whose interest is being served. On this basis, a private enterprise is one in which private interests privately arrived at are paramount. A public organization, on the other hand, is one in which public interests publicly arrived at are paramount.
There is a trend in our society for greater openness and responsiveness on the part of many organizations. Most associations and nonprofit organizations would fit this mold, and managers in those organizations must certainly be attentive to both efficiency and responsiveness. But many corporations as well are finding it important to open their decision-making processes to public scrutiny and involvement. The range of organiza- tions engaged in public service (and the applicability of public and nonprofit manage- ment) seems ever-increasing.
Certainly this trend has become even more important over the last couple of decades as more and more public problems require building collaborations or networks involving public, private, and nonprofit organizations (O’Leary & Bingham, 2009). In part this result has come about as government staffing has been decreased and more and more services are contracted out to private and nonprofit organizations. In part it has come about because the complexities of the problems we face require the involvement of many groups. Build- ing networks of organizations to address public problems obviously makes solutions more difficult. “As more public programs are delivered by private and nonprofit actors, and as many more public programs rely on intricate public-private-nonprofit partnerships, it is ever harder to make sure the right dots are connected well” (Kettl, 2009, p. 26). Similarly, these arrangements make issues of responsibility and accountability more difficult as well, but they do represent the changing face of public administration that you will encounter.
The Global Context We need to also recognize that changing economic conditions have combined with technological developments to mean that public administration is no lon- ger bound by national borders, as the traditional definitions of the field implied. Today the international dimensions of public administration are more important than ever. Under- standing the activities of political and administrative officials in other countries is impor- tant not only for those who will spend part of their careers outside the United States, but also for those who will work at home. Increasingly, city managers, even in small communi- ties, find that to be effective in local economic development activities, they must be experts
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in international business. But global interdependencies will affect us in other ways as well; for example, the deforestation in Brazil, Africa, and the Philippines will directly affect the quality of our own environment. And, of course, we cannot overlook our obligation to help reduce poverty and hunger throughout the world.
Several diverse—indeed, competing—views have emerged relating to this global- ization trend. They range from a critical perspective, in which the trend is seen as an attempt by developed nations to introduce Western values into other regions, to what supporters believe to be a chance to extend employment opportunities and wealth cre- ation into impoverished nations. This latter view suggests that, over time, all of us in the global village will benefit from the forces of globalization and the internationalization of economic markets.
The impact of globalization on public administration should not be underestimated. However, relating to the internationalization process is a pattern that carries perhaps even greater implications: decentralization. Central governments increasingly are handing over new powers and responsibilities to local and regional authorities. And in many cases, these jurisdictions lack the capacity and resources to deal effectively with their newfound authority.
To better understand these trends, and what they mean for public administration, the development of more globalized, comparative forms of analysis and practice will be criti- cal. We will require both an understanding of international issues and a way of more effec- tively managing with global issues in our own communities. So as we continue to live in our “global village,” we will be challenged to deal with opportunities and threats that defy national boundaries. Our systems of governance, consequently, will need to reflect our concern for the public interest—both at home and abroad.
We now have a notion of the complexity of work in the public and nonprofit sectors— the complexity inherent in the technical work of governmental and nongovernmental agencies, but, even more important, the complexity of the political and ethical context in which managers operate. Indeed, as noted before, this complexity will provide a theme that ties together many aspects of your work as an administrator. The way you set objec- tives, the way you develop budgets and hire personnel, the way you interact with other organizations and with your own clientele, the way you evaluate the success or failure of your programs—all of these aspects of your work as an administrator, and many more, are directly affected by the fact that you will be managing in the public interest.
What Do Public Administrators Do? An action orientation to public administration requires that we focus on what public and nonprofit managers actually do—how they act in real-world situations. How do they spend their time? What skills do they require to do their work well? What are the rewards and frustrations of public service? From the perspective of the administrator, we can ask, what characterizes the most effective and responsible public or nonprofit management? What are the demands on administrators? What are the satisfactions that public managers draw from their work?
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What Do Public Administrators Do? 1 1
We will approach these issues by concentrating on the skills managers need to accom- plish their work. In a classic article in the Harvard Business Review, Robert Katz provided the first major descriptions of the general skills all managers need: conceptual, technical, and human (Katz, 1974): 1. Conceptual skills include the ability to think abstractly, especially in regard to the
manager’s concept of the organization. This category also involves the ability to see the organization as a whole, how all the parts or functions work and fit together, and how making a change in one part will affect other parts. Conceptual skills also include the ability to see how the organization, or parts of it, relate to the organization’s environment.
2. Technical skills refer to an understanding of, and proficiency in, the methods, pro- cesses, and techniques for accomplishing tasks. These are, for example, the skills of an accountant who can conduct an audit or develop an income statement or the skills of a mechanic who can repair an engine.
3. Human skills involve the capacity to work effectively as a member of a group or the ability to get others to work together effectively. (“Others” may include subor- dinates, superiors, managers at the same level, or virtually anyone with whom one might work on a given project or assignment.)
All these skills are important to managers, but they are not equally important to all man- agers. Katz makes a strong argument that technical skills are most important to managers at the supervisory level who manage day-to-day operations but become less and less impor- tant as the level of management increases. On the other hand, conceptual skills are most important to top-level managers who must deal with the organization as a whole rather than with just one or a few parts of it. Conceptual skills are less important at the middle- management level and least important at the supervisory level.
Human skills, however, maintain a constant, high level of importance; they are critical regardless of one’s level. How managers’ human skills are employed may vary from level to level (for example, top managers lead more meetings than supervisory managers), but as a category, human skills remain the one constant for managerial success. In this book, we will consider the knowledge and values associated with public management (concep- tual skills), the techniques public managers require in such areas as budgeting and person- nel (technical skills), and the personal and interpersonal qualities that help managers work effectively with others (human skills).
An Inventory of Public Management Skills
One way to elaborate on an action approach is to create an inventory of the skills and competencies required for successful public and nonprofit management. There are many ways such an inventory can be constructed. One of the best ways is to talk with public and nonprofit managers about their work, as we suggest in exercise 1 at the end of the chapter. Several research studies have sought to answer this question by identifying the skills that are critical to managerial success. Of these studies, an early study by the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is particularly helpful (Flanders & Utterback, 1985). The OPM study was based on information gathered from a large number
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of highly effective federal managers and produced a description of the broad elements of managerial performance at the supervisory, managerial, and executive levels.
According to the OPM study, the competencies of managers include being sensitive to agency policies and national concerns; representing the organization and acting as a liai- son to those outside the organization; establishing organizational goals and the processes to carry them out; obtaining and allocating necessary resources to achieve the agency’s purposes; effectively utilizing human resources; and monitoring, evaluating, and redirect- ing the work of the organization. But the OPM researchers recognized that managerial excellence requires not only doing the job, but doing it well. For this reason, they devel- oped a set of skills, attitudes, and perspectives that seemed to distinguish the work of highly successful managers.
Different skills are required at different levels. As managers move up the organiza- tional ladder, they must accumulate increasingly broader sets of skills. The researchers suggest, for example, that first-line supervisors must apply communication skills, inter- personal sensitivity, and technical competence to ensure effective performance on their own part and within the work unit. In addition, their actions must begin to reflect those characteristics in the next ring: leadership, flexibility, an action orientation, and a focus on results.
Middle managers, on the other hand, must demonstrate all these characteristics of effectiveness and begin to acquire the skills listed in the outer ring: a broad perspective, a strategic view, and environmental sensitivity. Executives at the highest levels of public service who are responsible for the accomplishment of broad agency objectives must dem- onstrate the full complement of effectiveness characteristics to be most successful. Clearly, a wide diversity of skills, regardless of how the job is constructed or of the style in which it is executed, will be essential to your success as a manager.
A more recent study by the OPM elaborated the core qualifications expected of the highest-level government executives, in this case focusing on those characterizing the Senior Executive Service. This study first presented five executive core qualifications: leading change, leading people, results driven, business acumen, and building coalitions. These qualifications were complemented by six “competencies”: interpersonal skills, oral communication skills, integrity or honesty, written communication skills, con- tinual learning, and public service motivation (http://www.opm.gov/ses/recruitment/ qualify.asp).
Websites dealing with management issues at the federal level include the Office of Person nel Management at www.opm.gov and those services listed at www.usa.gov. You might also be interested in the websites of the following: Governing magazine at www.gov erning.com; the Chronicle of Philanthropy at www.philanthropy.com; Government Executive magazine at www.govexec.com; and The Public Manager at www.thepublicmanager.org.
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Voices of Public Administrators
Studies such as that of the OPM are helpful in understanding what you need to know and what you must be able to do to be successful in public administration. But how does it actually “feel” to work in a public or nonprofit organization? The best way to answer this question is to let some public servants speak for themselves. Not long ago, we spoke to two outstanding professionals in the field of public administration about their views of the field and their feelings about their work. The following accounts are based on those interviews. Jan C. Perkins served for many years as city manager of Fremont, California. When asked about her motivations for entering the field of public administration, this was her reply:
I was interested in improving the quality of life for all people and increasing the access of women and minorities. I believed that I could have the most impact by being involved in local government at a management level.
The most rewarding aspects of my work have been being able to articulate the mission of the city and focus my resources and efforts in effectively meeting that mission, solving the problems of residents, and seeing employees grow and develop.
Those considering public service careers should understand that managing in the public arena is different from that in a private corporation. It requires a commitment to values such as providing quality services for all and dealing with all people on an equal level. It is very important that people who enter the public service do so with a high standard of ethical behavior and an ability to deal honestly and directly with all people.
Michael Stahl works for the federal government in the Environmental Protection Agency. He reflected on his motivations for public service:
I entered public service because I viewed (and still do) government as an instru- ment to solve social problems. Democratic government can be a tremendous posi- tive force in society, and in spite of recent political rhetoric and prevailing political ideology, I am convinced that the institutions and programs of government are of vital importance to the nation and that public service is a noble calling.
If you are considering a career in the public service, take the time to reflect on your motivation for entering the public service, because there are right reasons and wrong reasons. You are entering for the right reasons if you want to make a contribution to the solution of social problems, promote democratic values and ethical standards in using the powers of government, and if the concept of serving the public good is a pas- sion. You are entering for the wrong reasons if you are looking for public adulation and recognition for your accomplishments, seeking material or financial rewards as compensation for your hard work, or expecting to acquire levels of power and change the world according to your own plan. Those entering for the wrong reasons will be bitterly disappointed. Yet, for those whose passion is to contribute to the public good, government service can represent the single most satisfying way of translating your passion into ideas and events for improving the quality of life for scores of people.
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Obviously, these profes- sionals take very seriously their commitment to serv- ing others. In making such a commitment, they partici- pate in a long and proud tra- dition. Indeed, public service has historically been con- sidered one of the highest callings in our society and has been even more highly regarded in other countries, such as France and Japan.
Without question, the idea of serving others has
enormous appeal, in part because of the great joy and satisfaction it brings. Those work- ing in public organizations experience almost daily the rewards of public service.
Why Study Public Administration? Students come to introductory courses in public administration for many different rea- sons. Many students recognize the vast array of positions in government (and elsewhere) that require training in public administration and hope that the course will provide basic information and skills that will move them toward careers as public or nonprofit man- agers. These students seek to understand the field of public administration, but also to sharpen their own skills as potential administrators. (See the box “Exploring Concepts: Why Study Public Administration?”)
WHY STUDY PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION?
● To prepare for administrative positions ● To combine technical and managerial training ● To help business and government interact ● To influence public organizations as a citizen
Other students, whose interests lie in technical fields as wide-ranging as engineering, teaching, natural resources, social work, and the fine arts, recognize that at some point in their careers their jobs may involve management in the public sector. The engineer may become director of a public works department; the teacher may become school principal; the natural resources expert may be asked to run an environmental quality program; the
Log in to www.cengage.com and open CourseReader to access the reading:
Read “Confessions of a Public Service Junkie” and “The Value of Public Service.”
What does this article say about the passions and commit ments that motivate public servants? How important is it to you to “make a difference”?
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social worker may administer a welfare program; or the fine arts major may direct a pub- licly supported gallery or museum. In these cases, and others like them, the individual’s technical expertise may need to be complemented by managerial training.
The National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration is the accrediting body for programs in public administration and pursues other educational matters. See its home page at www.naspaa.org and see a list of NASPAA-accredited Master of Public Admin istration programs at http://www.naspaa.org/accreditation/NS/roster.asp.
Other students may have no expectations whatsoever of working in a public agency, but they recognize that as corporate executives, as businesspeople, or merely as citizens, they are likely to be called upon to interact with those in public organizations. Someone who owns a small business might wish to sell products or services to a city, a county, or some other governmental body; partners in an accounting firm might seek auditing con- tracts with a local or state government; or a construction firm might bid on the design and construction of a new public building. In each case, knowledge of the operations of public agencies would be not only helpful but essential.
A final group of students, a group overlapping any of the previous three, might simply recognize the importance of public agencies in the governmental process and the impact
of public organizations on their daily lives. They might wish to acquire the knowl- edge and skills that would enable them to more effec- tively analyze and influence public policy. Some will find the world of public administration a fascinat- ing field of study in its own right and pursue academic careers in public affairs. Because understanding the motives for studying pub- lic administration will also give us a more complete view of the variety and importance of managerial work in the public sector, we will examine each in greater detail.
Log in to www.cengage.com and open CourseReader to access the reading:
Read “The Public Sector as a Career Choice: Antecedents of an Expressed Interest in Working for the Federal Government,” by Dennis Doverspike et al. There are many reasons that people choose to work in public administration, and many of these have to do with their commitment to public service and their wanting to make a difference in their communities. Others have to do with their personal experiences growing up.
Consider your own motivations and those of your friends. What has stimulated your interest in public admin istration? Might you consider a career in federal, state, or local government or in a nonprofit organization? What might affect your choice? How important is it to you to make a difference in your community?
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Preparing for Administrative Positions
You may be among those who wish to use the introductory public administration course as a stepping-stone to a career in public service. If so, you will find that these careers take many forms. We sometimes make distinctions among program managers, staff managers, and policy analysts. Program managers range from the executive level to the supervisory level and are in charge of particular governmental or nongovernmental programs, such as those in environmental quality or transportation safety. Their job is to allocate and moni- tor human, material, and financial resources to meet the service objectives of their agency. Staff managers, on the other hand, support the work of program managers through bud- geting and financial management, personnel and labor relations, and purchasing and procurement. Meanwhile, policy analysts provide important information about exist- ing programs through their research into the operations and impacts of the programs; moreover, analysts help bring together information about new programs, assess the pos- sible effects of different courses of action, and suggest new directions for public policy. Managers and analysts may work with the chief executive, with the legislature, with officials at other levels of government, and with the public in framing and reframing public programs.
As we will see, the work of public and nonprofit organizations also encompasses a wide variety of substantive areas. Think for a moment of the range of activities the fed- eral government engages in. The federal government touches upon nearly every aspect of American life, from aeronautics, air transportation, and atmospheric sciences; to helping the homeless, juvenile delinquents, and migrant workers; to working with waste manage- ment, wage standards, and water quality. In each area, skilled managers are called upon to develop, implement, and evaluate government programs. But the work of managers at the federal level represents only a part of the work of those trained in public administration.
At the state and local levels of government, and in the nonprofit sector, even more opportunities exist. As we will see in Chapter 2, although there is only one federal govern- ment in this country, there are almost 89,000 state and local governments (these include cities, counties, and special districts) and more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations. State and local government employment in this country amounts to almost 15 million persons (compared to under 3 million civilians employed at the federal level), and nearly 15 million people work for nonprofit organizations.
Obviously, the work of government at the state and local levels is different from that at the federal level. State and local governments, for example, do not directly provide for the national defense; however, most have police forces, which the federal government does not have. There are also other positions at the state and local levels that do not have exact counterparts at the federal level. For example, the president or chancellor of your state university is a public administrator with significant and unusual responsibilities; the city manager in a local community is a professional administrator appointed by a city council to manage the various functions of local government.
And public service is not limited to work in government. Beyond employment in fed- eral, state, or local government, those trained in public administration will find many other opportunities. Directors of nonprofit organizations at the state and local levels, as well as
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those in similar associations at the national level, often find that the skills required for their jobs—skills that combine managerial training with an understanding of the political system—are the skills developed in public administration courses. Again, to demonstrate the breadth of these activities, we might note that there are large numbers of nonprofit associations at the national level alone, ranging from well-known groups such as the American Medical Association or the American Bar Association, to trade groups such as the American Frozen Food Institute and the National Association of Bedding Manufactur- ers, to professional associations such as the American Society for Public Administration and those representing a particular field of interest, such as the Metropolitan Opera Guild. There is even an association of association executives: the American Society of Associa- tion Executives. Beyond these groups at the national level, there are numerous nonprofit groups operating at state and local levels—for example, local United Way organizations, local food banks, art leagues, or historic preservation groups.
Finally, those with training in public administration may work in a private corpora- tion’s public affairs division. Because of the increasing interaction across private, public, and nongovernmental sectors, corporations and nonprofit organizations often need spe- cial assistance in tracking legislation, developing and monitoring government contracts, and influencing the legislative or regulatory process. Thus, the combination of manage- rial and political skills possessed by someone with training in public administration can be highly valuable. The career possibilities in the field of public administration are seemingly endless.
Combining Technical and Managerial Training
Many students seek positions in public service as a primary career objective, whereas many others see the possibility of work in public administration as secondary, but none- theless important, to their main field of interest. As noted, the work of government spans many areas; consequently, the people who work for government (one out of every six people in this country) come from a wide variety of professional backgrounds. There are engineers who work in the Defense Department and for NASA at the federal level, in state highway departments, and in local public works departments. People interested in natural resources may work for the U.S. Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, in state conservation departments, and in local parks departments. Medical personnel may work for the Veterans Administration or the National Institute for Mental Health, for state health departments, and for local hospitals and health offices.
Governments at all levels hire social workers, planners, personnel specialists, accoun- tants, lawyers, biologists, law enforcement officers, educators, researchers, recreation specialists, and agricultural specialists, just to mention a few. To illustrate the magnitude of federal government employment, over 725,000 work in national defense and foreign affairs, over 700,000 people work in the postal service, 340,000 are employed in health care, and 124,000 financial administrators work for the federal government (http://www2 .census.gov/govs/apes/09fedfun.pdf).
As mentioned earlier, people who have worked for some time within a technical field in a public organization are often promoted to managerial positions. A surgeon may
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become chief of surgery, a water pollution specialist may be asked to direct a pollution control project, or a teacher may become a school principal. Despite having started out in a technical field, these individuals find themselves in a managerial position; they are public administrators. Some people may desire promotion to a managerial position; oth- ers may not. (There are some jurisdictions in which continued advancement practically requires moving into an administrative position.) But whatever one’s motivation, the new administrator soon discovers a completely new world of work. Now the most pressing questions are not the technical ones, but rather those having to do with management, with program planning and design, with supervision and motivation, and with balancing scarce resources. Often the situation is quite bewildering; it’s almost as if one has been asked to change professions in midcareer from technical expert to public manager.
So many people from technical fields find themselves in managerial positions in the public sector that many of them seek training in public administration. For this reason, it is no longer unusual for students majoring in technical fields to take courses in public administration or for students to combine undergraduate training in a technical field with graduate training in public administration (even at midcareer). This, then, is a second rea- son for studying public administration: to prepare for the eventuality that work in a tech- nical field of interest might lead you to a managerial position in the public sector.
Interaction of Business and Government
Even for students who never work for a public agency of any type, understanding the processes of policy formulation and implementation can be enormously helpful. One of the most important trends in American society is the increasing interaction of business and government. Clearly, the decisions of government affect the environment in which busi- ness operates, but government also specifically regulates many businesses and, of course, serves as the biggest single customer of business.
Those in business recognize that governmental decisions affect the economic climate. Most obvious are the effects of governmental decisions at the federal level. Consider, for example, the impact of government economic pronouncements on the stock market. State and local governments, however, also affect the business climate. The governors of many states have begun major campaigns to attract industry to their states, providing not only information and advice but also specific incentives for plants and industries that might relocate. Similar activities are being undertaken in more and more local communities, as cities recognize that they are in competition for economic development. At a minimum, business recognizes that the political climate of any locality directly affects the area’s economic climate.
But the influence of government on business is more specific. At the federal level, major regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, provide specific guidelines in which certain businesses must operate. Moreover, requirements of agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration restrict the operations of business so as to ensure the quality of air and water and the safety of working conditions. Similarly, at the state level, some agencies directly regulate specific businesses, while others act more
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generally to prevent unfair or unsafe practices. Even at the local level, through licensing and zoning practices, public organizations directly regulate business practice.
Government is also important as a consumer of business products and services. At the federal level, over $550 billion is spent each year on goods and services; in the Depart- ment of Defense alone, the figure is over $354 billion per year (http://www.census.gov/ prod/2010pubs/cffr-09.pdf). Business is attentive to its customers, so it is not surprising that business is attentive to government!
For all these reasons, people in business are becoming increasingly aware of the need to understand in detail the work of government—how policies are made, how they are implemented, and how they may be influenced. Not only are more and more businesses developing public affairs offices to specialize in governmental operations, track policy developments, and attempt to influence policy, but they are also placing a greater premium on having executives at all levels who understand how government agencies operate. Even if you plan a career in business, understanding the work of public organizations is an essential part of your training.
Influencing Public Organizations
Any of the motives for studying public administration we have discussed so far may bring you to an introductory course. There is, however, another more general reason you may wish to study public administration: to understand one important aspect of the governmen- tal process so you can deal effectively with public issues that directly affect your life. We are all affected by the work of governmental and nongovernmental organizations, so it is help- ful, and sometimes even essential, to understand the operations of these organizations.
We have become so accustomed to the pervasiveness of public service and the range of its influence that we sometimes forget just how often our lives are touched by public and nonprofit organizations. Imagine a typical day: We wake up in the morning to the sounds of a commercially regulated radio station or National Public Radio coming over a patented and Federal Communications Commission–registered clock radio operating on power supplied by either a government-regulated power company or a public utility. We brush our teeth with toothpaste produced under a government patent and trust that it has been judged safe (if not effective) by a federal agency. We use municipally operated water and sewer systems without thinking of the complexity of their operation. We dress in clothes produced under governmental restrictions and eat food prepared in accordance with government regulations and inspected by the government. We drive on a public high- way, following government-enforced traffic laws, to a university substantially funded by federal, state, and sometimes local dollars to study from books copyrighted and cata- logued by the Library of Congress. Though the day has hardly begun, our lives already have been touched by public organizations in a multitude of ways.
The importance of public administration in daily life is tremendous; consequently, the decisions made by governmental and nongovernmental officials (and not just elected officials) can affect us directly. Imagine, for example, that one day you discover that the loan program that is helping to finance your college education is being reviewed and will likely be revised in such a way that you will no longer be eligible for funding. In this case,
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you might well want to take some action to maintain your eligibility. Obviously, know- ing something about the operations of government agencies, especially some of the ways administrative decisions can be influenced, would be of great help.
As citizens affected by the public service, understanding the operations of public and nonprofit organizations is helpful; it is even more important if one becomes personally involved in some aspect of the governmental process. For those reading this book, such involvement is actually rather likely. Indeed, if you are a college graduate, regardless of your major or field of interest, chances are quite good that at some point in your life you will engage in some kind of formal governmental activity. You may be elected to local, state, or national office; you may be asked to serve on a board or commission; or your advice concerning government operations in your area may be sought in other ways. You may also become involved in the work of nonprofit organizations or charities in your local commu- nity. In any of these cases, a thorough knowledge of the structure and processes of public organizations, both government and nonprofit organizations, will be of great importance.
Finally, those who are interested in understanding the work of public or nonprofit organizations may indeed find the field of public administration interesting from a more academic standpoint: studying and commenting on the operations of government and nonprofit organizations contribute to our understanding of the process of policy devel- opment and support the work of those in public organizations. The opportunities for academic careers in public administration, positions involving teaching and research, are many, and you may find yourself drawn to those opportunities. Even here, however, one begins with a concern for action.
You are the executive director of the Parents Anonymous organization in your area. Your organization is devoted to preventing child abuse and strengthening families. Recently one of your traditional sources of funding was terminated. You are faced with the prospect of reducing staff (and services) or coming up with new revenues. What would you do?
What Would You Do?
Making Things Happen
Of the many reasons to learn about public and nonprofit organizations, one theme seems to tie together the various interests: an interest in making things happen. Whether you are preparing for a career in the public sector with the possibility that you might someday manage a public agency, or simply preparing to influence the course of public policy and its implementation as it directly affects you or your business, your interest is in taking action and influencing what goes on in public and nonprofit organizations. It’s one thing to gain knowledge of the field in the abstract, but most students want to learn those things that will make them more effective actors in the governmental process. Some of the more prominent actors are discussed in the box “Public Administration in History: Public Service: A Distinguished Profession.”
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This book is geared toward action, toward how to make things happen in public ser- vice. Our perspective will be that of the actor, not the scholar, although an understand- ing of the world of administrative action is the basis for good scholarship as well. Action first requires a base of knowledge; there are certain things that you simply need to know about government and the administrative process to be effective. There are also value questions that must be settled in the course of making and carrying out public decisions. And, finally, there are both technical and interpersonal skills you must acquire to be effective in working with others in your chosen field. Selecting an action orientation, therefore, commits you to emphasizing all three areas: the knowledge, values, and skills that will help you to become more effective and responsible in your work with “real-life” public organizations.
Public Administration in History
PUBLIC SERVICE: A DISTINGUISHED PROFESSION
For my part, when I think of government service, in uniform and out, I think of individual men and women of genuine distinction who have served this country over the years and also of the amazing diversity of a service that can range from defending our borders to delivering our mail, curing disease to exploring outer space. I was looking at a civil service publication the other day containing an alphabetical list of well-known employees through the years “and found it began with a career civil servant named Neil Armstrong who went on TDY (temporary duty) to the moon” and concluded several pages later with Walt Whitman, the poet, who worked in the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Attorney [General’s office]. How’s that for diversity? Incidentally, the group also included four Nobel Prize winners and several important inventors, including Alexander Graham Bell, who among his other associations worked for the Census Bureau. There also were some other familiar names of people who shared your proud profession: Clara Barton, Washington Irving, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Lindbergh, Knute Rockne, Harry Truman, and James Whistler, to name but a few.
In my own experience, as one who served the federal government for some years, I look back on those periods as among the most exciting, challenging, and thoroughly demanding in life. I have often said, and still say, that I never worked harder than I did in my years as a public servant. I worked alongside some of the finest, most competent, thoroughly committed people I have ever known. I realize this does not comport with everything that you read in the papers or see on television, but I never miss a chance to point it out. My own experience in govern- ment left me with an abiding respect for the men and women who serve this nation as public employees.
SOURCE: Norman R. Augustine, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Martin Marietta Corporation, Address to the Federal Executive Board, Denver, Colorado, April 26, 1989. Text provided by the Council for Excellence in Government, Washington, D.C.
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Issues in Public Administration Theory and Practice Throughout the chapters to come, our primary emphasis will be on action—those things that real-world actors do to be successful in public and nonprofit organizations. But action never stands alone. Without some degree of reflection, action is sterile and unguided. For this reason, we will outline two themes that have traditionally characterized work in public organizations and that continue to be of great importance today. As such, these themes—of politics and administration and of bureaucracy and democracy—provide a part of the intellectual and practical context of public administration. Although our pur- pose is to simply introduce these two themes, we suggest that they are most often manifest in contemporary public administration as a tension between efficiency and responsiveness. This tension is absolutely central to the work of public administrators today, and we will return to it frequently in our discussions of administrative action.
Politics and Administration
Even though the supposed dichotomy between politics and administration is one of the oldest issues in public administration, it continues to hold great relevance for administra- tors today. You will recall that an early essay by Woodrow Wilson framed the initial study of public administration in this country. In addition to emphasizing businesslike practices, Wilson was concerned with isolating the processes of administration from the potentially corrupting influences of politics. He wrote, “Administration lies outside the proper sphere of politics. Administrative questions are not political questions. Although politics sets the tasks for administration, it should not be suffered to manipulate its offices” (Wilson, 1887, p. 210). In other words, although policies were to be debated and decided by politicians, they were to be carried out by a politically neutral, professional bureaucracy. In this way, the everyday conduct of government would be isolated from the potentially corrupting influ- ence of politics.
Other early writers joined Wilson in talking, at least analytically, about the distinction between politics (or policy) and administration. More practical reformers went further, creating governmental forms, such as the council-manager plan for local government, that were based on a separation of policy and administration. As we will see later, in this form of government, the council presumably makes the policy and the city manager carries it out. The council is engaged in politics (or policy) and the manager in administration.
Over the first few decades of this century, however, the distinction between policy and administration was increasingly broken down, even in council-manager governments. Man- agers found that they had expertise that was needed by policy makers and began to be drawn into the policy process. By about the middle of the century, Paul Appleby of Syracuse Univer- sity would write simply, “Public administration is policy-making” (Appleby, 1949, p. 170).
The increasing involvement of administrators in the policy process was in part attribut- able to the fact that the operations of government—and in contemporary society, of non- profit organizations—were becoming more complex, and the technical and professional skills needed to operate public agencies were dramatically increasing. As people with such skills and expertise became a part of public organizations, they were inevitably called upon
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to present their views. At the same time, the legislative branches of government (at all levels) found it difficult to be knowledgeable about every detail of government and, consequently, were forced to rely more and more on the expertise of those in public agencies. Addition- ally, the complexity of government meant that legislative bodies often found it necessary to state laws in general terms, leaving those within government agencies with considerable discretion to interpret those laws as they saw fit and, therefore, make policy daily.
Ensuring Accountability The acknowledgment of the interaction of politics and adminis- tration does not make the question of their relationship any easier. If public administrators make policy, how can we be sure that the policies they make are responsible to the people (as we would expect in a democratic society)? Presumably, legislators must be at least somewhat responsive, or, come the next election, they will no longer be legislators. But what of administrators?
You have served three years as head of your state’s human services agency. In general, your relationship with the governor has been quite good, and your relationship with the legislature (which is dominated by the governor’s party) has been congenial as well. Recently, however, there has been a move in the legislature to reduce funding for a child-care program you think is essential to finding and maintaining employment for women on welfare. What would you do?
What Would You Do?
Traditionally, the answer was that the administrators were accountable to the legislators, who, in turn, were accountable to the people. But even that argument is somewhat tricky today. Those in public and nonprofit agencies do indeed both work with and report to legislatures (or boards), but they also shape public opinion through the information they provide. They mobilize for support inside and outside government and bargain with a variety of public and private groups. To a certain extent, they act as independent agents.
For this reason, more contemporary discussions of accountability (which we will elabo- rate on in Chapter 4) place an emphasis on measures that would supplement accountabil- ity to the legislature by either seeking a strong subjective sense of responsibility on the part of administrators or by providing structural controls to ensure responsibility. As we will see, some people have tried to assert professional standards in public and nonprofit orga- nizations, while others have developed codes of ethics and standards of professional prac- tice. Others have sought greater legislative involvement in the administrative process or more substantial legislative review. Still others have described mechanisms such as public participation in the administrative process or surveys of public opinion that would bring the administrator in closer alignment with the sentiments of the citizenry (something we will discuss further in Chapter 11).
The relationship between politics (or policy) and administration will be a theme that recurs throughout the remainder of this book. Although the classic dichotomy between politics and administration has become less distinct as the role of public administrators
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in the policy process has become more apparent, the question of the relationship between politics and administration remains central, simply because it goes to the heart of what public administration is all about. If public organizations differ from other organizations in our society, that difference must surely rest in the way public organizations partici- pate in and respond to the public interest. But that issue merely leads us to another: the relationship between bureaucracy and democracy.
Bureaucracy and Democracy
A second theme that grew from early discussions of public administration had to do with the potential for conflict between democracy and bureaucracy. Let’s start once again with democracy. One writer has defined the moral commitments of a democracy in terms of three standards. First, democratic principles assume that the individual is the primary measure of human value and that the development of the individual is the primary goal of a democratic political system. Second, democratic morality suggests that all persons are created equal—that differences in wealth, status, or position should not give one person or group an advantage over another. Third, democratic morality empha- sizes widespread participation among the citizens in the making of major decisions (Redford, 1969, p. 8).
Set against these tenets of democracy are the ideals of bureaucratic management. The early scholars and practitioners in public administration were, of course, writing at a time when businesses were growing rapidly and beginning to use more complicated technolo- gies and new ways of organizing appropriate to those technologies. To some extent the public sector looked to the field of business for models of organization. It found that the growth of large-scale business had led to the development of large and complex bureau- cratic organizations, organizations that were built around values quite different from those of democracy. (Although the term bureaucracy is often used in a pejorative sense, as in “bureaucratic red tape,” we will use it here in its more neutral and scientific sense: as a way of organizing work.) Consequently, the bureaucratic model of organizing was brought into the public sector.
The values of bureaucracy included first the need to bring together the work of many individuals in order to achieve purposes far beyond the capabilities of any single indi- vidual. Second, bureaucratic systems were to be structured hierarchically, with those at the top having far greater power and discretion than those at the bottom. Third, bureaucratic organization generally assumes that power and authority flow from the top of the organi- zation to the bottom rather than the other way around. (We will examine the concept of bureaucracy in greater detail in Chapter 5.)
In contrast to the democratic value of individuality, there stood the bureaucratic value of the group or organization; in contrast to the democratic values of equality, there stood the bureaucratic hierarchy; and in contrast to the democratic values of participation and involvement, there stood the bureaucratic value of top-down decision making and authority.
How these values were to be reconciled became a difficult issue for early scholars and practitioners in the field of public administration, as it continues to be today. A variety of
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questions are raised. For example, is it proper for a democratic government to carry out its work through basically authoritarian organizations? The key issue turns out to be an emphasis on efficiency as the sole measure of agency success.
Efficiency versus Responsiveness
Those in public administration have long wrestled with the issues of politics and admin- istration and of democracy and bureaucracy. Public and increasingly nonprofit managers have begun to experience these tensions more frequently in the day-to-day problems they face in terms of efficiency versus responsiveness. Indeed, in a sense, the two earlier issues seem to have dissolved into the single issue of efficiency versus responsiveness. On the one hand, there is the hope that public and nonprofit organizations will operate in the most efficient way possible, getting things done quickly and at the least cost to taxpayers and donors. On the other hand, public managers must be constantly attentive to the demands of the citizenry, whether those demands are expressed through the chief executive, through the legislature, or directly.
A practical and contemporary expression of this difficulty is presented in case study number 5 at the end of the chapter. (You might want to read it now.) The case relates a dispute that arose in the course of developing a new housing loan program. Although the case presents several different issues, most students reviewing the case focus their attention on the different interpretations that John and Carol have of their work. At first glance, John appears to be solely interested in doing things efficiently, while Carol appears to be much more concerned with responding to the needs of the client group. The case appears to be a classic illustration of the tension between efficiency and responsive- ness, and indeed it is. But at a deeper level, the case also illustrates how complex the issues really are. You might say, for example, that John was trying to be efficient in response to the demands of those clients who had been waiting for their loans to be processed. You might also say that Carol, through her educational efforts, was helping to ensure a more efficient, long-term operation.
The main point, of course, is that in public organizations, you may frequently encoun- ter difficulties in reconciling efficiency and responsiveness. A key to resolving the ethical questions raised in situations such as that faced by John and Carol is (1) understanding the various moral values represented on each side of the equation and then (2) engaging in ethical deliberation (and perhaps dialogue) to arrive at a proper approach to the problem. Interestingly enough, in this particular case, the real-life characters represented by John and Carol got together and talked through the differences in their respective approaches. The result was a course of action they both agreed on, one they felt met their obligations to be both efficient and responsive. In the real world, dialogue sometimes works!
To summarize this point, the themes of politics and administration and of bureaucracy and democracy have marked much of the history of the field of public administration. Today these themes seem often to manifest in the tension between efficiency and respon- siveness. Are public agencies to concentrate only on creating the desired outcomes in the most efficient manner possible? Or should such agencies be responsive to the public inter- est and the public will, even though the public interest and the public will may not have
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been explicitly articulated by elected officials, especially those in the legislature? Time after time, you’ll find evidence of this tension in discussions on public policy, human resources management, budgeting and financial management, and so on. The tension between efficiency and responsiveness remains an “unsolved mystery” of public administration. But perhaps for that reason, it is a tension that helps make public administration such a fascinating and dynamic field.
Summary and Action Implications As noted, our focus in this book is on the individual administrator or the individual citizen seeking to influence public policy through the agencies of government or through other public and nongovernmental organizations. We consider in some detail the institutions, processes, and techniques required for work in the public and nonprofit sectors. But, most importantly, we examine the “real world” of public administration, the world as experi- enced by the administrator.
That world, as we have seen, is one for which you will need to develop certain capa- bilities to operate effectively and responsibly. Among these we include an understanding of the institutions and processes of government; an appreciation of the values underlying public service; technical skills in such areas as program design, budgeting, and personnel; interpersonal skills in communications, leadership, and decision making; and a capacity to “put it all together” to integrate knowledge, skills, and values appropriately.
Ideally, in studying the issues discussed in this book, you will develop a good sense of the political context of public administration; a sound understanding of your role in both policy development and policy implementation; a sensitivity to the moral and ethical questions inherent in the notion of public service; technical competence in areas such as planning and program development, budgeting, personnel, and performance management; facility with interpersonal relationships (including leadership, deci- sion making, and communications); and the self-confidence and self-awareness to act effectively and responsibly in real-life situations. Though public administration in the abstract sometimes appears lifeless and remote, the real world of the practicing public admin istrator is a quite lively and interesting place, filled with challenging problems and unique opportunities.
1. Discuss some of the career opportunities available to those trained in public administration.
2. “One of the most important trends in American society is the increasing interaction of business and government.” This quotation signals the need for better recognition and understanding of the interactions between business and government. Discuss the importance of this interaction and why a clear understanding of the relationship between the public and private sector is necessary.
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3. The differences between public administration and business management are profound. Explain how the two fields are alike and how they differ. Why are the two terms not interchangeable?
4. How did early scholars, such as Woodrow Wilson, view the role of public administra- tion in a democracy?
5. The term democracy can be interpreted in a variety of ways. What significant concepts helped form the democratic society within which American government operates?
6. What is the role of “publicness” in defining the work of public and nonprofit managers?
CASES AND EXERCISES
1. Interview a public administrator. Locate one or more people who work as managers or analysts in a public or nonprofit organization and interview them. The interview- ees might work for a public university, local government, state or federal agency, or nonprofit organization. They might be a university administrator, a city manager or department director (public works or parks and recreation), a county official (such as a county clerk), a manager in state government (perhaps someone in a welfare office or a highway department), a federal government manager (in a local office of a department such as Social Security, Agriculture, or the Federal Aviation Adminis- tration), or someone who works in a local, state, or national nonprofit association. They might be a program manager, a staff manager, or a policy analyst.
Ask the people you interview to describe their jobs, including the range of respon- sibilities they have and the knowledge, values, and skills that are important to them in their work. The following are some examples of questions you might want to ask: ● Describe the work you do and how you came to this position. What is your edu-
cational and work background? ● What impact does the work you do have on the community/state/nation/
and so on? ● What do you find different or unusual about working in a public organization?
How do you think your job compares to other jobs at a comparable level in business or industry?
● What knowledge, values, and skills are important to your work? For instance, if you were hiring someone to take your place, what would you look for?
2. Consider the following case. As an administrative assistant in the Department of Finance of a midsize suburban community, you are asked by the director to contract with an accounting firm to audit the books of the ten major city departments. You develop a request for bids, advertise in the local newspaper, and send written notices to all the local accounting firms. In response, you receive five proposals, four from local firms and one from a Big Eight accounting firm based in a nearby city. The proposals are essentially the same with respect to cost and expected quality of work.
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However, one firm, Jones and Denham, appears to have considerably more experience, having done similar audits locally in the past. Having gathered all the information you feel you need to make a decision, you make an appointment to report to the director early Tuesday morning. At lunch on Monday, however, a friend who knows you are working on the auditing contract casually mentions that a certain Mr. Howard of the Firm T. P. Howard and Co. is the brother-in-law of the mayor. T. P. Howard and Co. is one of the five firms that have submitted bids for the auditing contract. Later that after- noon, you receive a call from the mayor, asking for a report on the auditing contract. What do you say to the mayor? What do you recommend be done about the contract? What does this case say about the relationship between business and government?
3. Consider the following case. There wasn’t much that David Wood couldn’t do. He was an excellent teacher, a dedicated scholar, and a good department chair. He had been called to the chancellor’s office to comment on a new curriculum proposal, one his faculty and he had discussed, and one they firmly opposed. The chancellor began the meeting by commenting on the excellent administrative work that David had been doing and on the possibility that he might be considered for a deanship that was opening up soon. David had always wanted to be a dean. He voiced very mild objection to the curriculum proposal and then promised to try to convince his faculty to support it.
Moving from an academic position into an administrative position or from any technical position into an administrative position puts you in a different world, one with greater complexity and different pressures. What are some of the factors that affect those holding managerial jobs as opposed to technical jobs?
4. Consider the following case. Recently fraternities and sororities at a major mid- western university were informed that the property tax classification for their houses was being changed from “residential” to “commercial,” a change that would increase the assessed values of the properties from 19 percent to 32 percent and would cost the Greek houses thousands of dollars in new taxes. The Greeks felt the change was inappropriate because, as one member stated, “There’s not a fraternity or sorority on campus that makes a profit.” On the other hand, a county official pointed out that the houses contain more than “four dwelling units,” as the law describes it. Moreover, fraternities and sororities are probably not residential enter- prises and are definitely not agricultural ones (as specified in the law), so they are relegated to the third “catch-all” category, “commercial and all others.”
If you were advising the Greek organizations as to how they might seek relief, what would you recommend? What kind of action should they take? Where should an appeal originate? How might it proceed?
5. As you consider the following case, remember the discussion under “Efficiency versus Responsiveness” earlier in this chapter. John Taylor and Carol Langley worked for a local, nonprofit community development agency. Following a rather massive reor- ganization of the agency in which a number of new programs were taken on, John was asked to supervise a new housing loan program and Carol was asked to assist
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him. The program was designed to provide low-interest loans to people in rehabili- tating housing in certain parts of the city. Although John and Carol had experience in related areas, neither was familiar with this particular program. To make matters worse, seminars to provide help in establishing such programs had been held some months earlier. John and Carol were simply given a manual and told to begin.
The program involved a number of new activities and took considerable time to set up. For example, it was necessary to train new housing inspectors to coordinate their inspection activities with those provided by the city government, and relationships had to be established with the other public and nonprofit agencies that would provide information about the applicants being processed.
John soon began receiving considerable pressure to complete the processing of the first group of applications within a brief period of time. For one thing, the first group of applicants consisted of some forty people who had originally applied for other programs but had been turned down. Because their applications had been on file in the agency for as long as one year, they were quite anxious to have their applica- tions processed quickly. Initial visits and phone calls from several of the applicants made John quite aware of their feelings. In addition, however, John knew that this particular loan program would have a significant impact on the community and that, consequently, his doing an efficient job under these difficult circumstances would be important both to the agency and to his own future in public service.
Carol recognized the necessity to do the work as quickly as possible, but she also felt a special obligation to the applicants themselves. She took seriously the agency director’s comment that the agency could use this opportunity to help “educate” the applicants about the procedures involved in such projects. She felt it was very impor- tant to check periodically on the inspections, cost estimates, loan amounts, financial information, and terms and conditions of the loans. Unlike John, who spent most of his time in the office, she talked frequently with the applicants, many of whom she knew personally from her previous position in the agency.
For each applicant, John and Carol were to accumulate a complete file of infor- mation about the financial status and rehabilitation project the applicant had in mind. This file was to be received and signed by the applicant, then forwarded to the federal regional office of HUD for further action.
John felt the process could be completed more quickly if Carol would simply get the applicants to sign a blank set of forms that could be kept at the office. When information was received regarding a loan, the appropriate items could be entered on the signed forms, bypassing the time involved reviewing each form with the appli- cant. Also, this procedure would eliminate the often lengthy process of coordinating several office visits to discuss the material.
When John asked Carol to obtain the signed forms, she refused. Not only was she concerned that the applicants see and understand the materials before signing, but she was also afraid that getting people to sign blank forms might be illegal. When she talked with John’s supervisor about the request, she was told that the procedure was not illegal and had been used before by people in the regional office. Do you agree with John or Carol? Why? What should happen next?
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FOR ADDITIONAL READING
Balutis, Alan P., Terry F. Buss, and Dwight Ink. Transforming American Governance: Rebooting the Public Square. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2011.
Ban, Carolyn. How Do Public Managers Manage? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995. Bevir, Mark. Democratic Governance. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010. Bevir, Mark. The Sage Handbook of Governance. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2011. Bowman, James S., Jonathan P. West, and Marcia A. Beck. Achieving Competencies in Public Service:
The Professional Edge. 2nd ed. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2009. Cayer, Joseph N., and Louis F. Weschler. Public Administration: Social Change and Adaptive
Management. 2nd ed. San Diego, CA: Birkdale Publishers, 2003. Frederickson, H. George. The Spirit of Public Administration. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997. Hal, Rainey G. Understanding and Managing Public Organizations. 3rd ed. San Francisco:
Jossey-Bass, 2003. Kettl, Donald F. The Next Government of the United States: Why Our Institutions Fail Us and
How to Fix Them. New York: W. W. Norton, 2009. King, Cheryl Simrell. Government Is Us 2.0. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2011. King, Cheryl Simrell, and Lisa A. Zanetti. Transformational Public Service: Portraits of Theory
in Practice. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2005. Koppell, Jonathan G. S. World Rule: Accountability, Legitimacy, and the Design of Global Gover
nance. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 2010. McNabb, David E. The New Face of Government: How Public Managers Are Forging a New
Approach to Governance. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2009. Meier, Kenneth J., and Laurence J. O’Toole, Jr. Bureaucracy in a Democratic State: A Governance
Perspective. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. Menzel, Donald C., and Harvey L. White. The State of Public Administration: Issues, Challenges,
and Opportunities. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2011. O’Leary, Rosemary, and Lisa B. Bingham. The Collaborative Public Manager: New Ideas for the
TwentyFirst Century. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2009. O’Leary, Rosemary, David Van Slyke, and Soonhee Kim. The Future of Public Administration
around the World: The Minnowbrook Perspective. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2010.
Peters, Guy B., and Jon Pierre, eds. Handbook of Public Administration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2003.
Pollitt, Christopher. The Essential Public Manager. Maidenhead, England: Open University Press, 2003. Rabin, Jack, W. Bartley Hildreth, and Gerald Miller. Handbook of Public Administration. 3rd ed.
Boca Raton, FL: CRC/Taylor & Francis, 2007. Rainey, Hal G. Understanding and Managing Public Organizations. 4th ed. San Francisco:
Jossey-Bass, 2009. Rosenbloom, David H., and Howard E. McCurdy, eds. Revisiting Waldo’s Administrative State: Con
stancy and Change in Public Administration. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2006. Rutgers, Mark R., ed. Retracing Public Administration. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2003. Stivers, Camilla. Democracy, Bureaucracy and the Study of Public Administration. Boulder, CO:
Westview Press, 2000.
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Office of Personnel Management List of Core Executive Qualifications
Vision Takes a long-term view and acts as a catalyst for organizational change; builds a shared vision with others. Influences others to translate vision into action.
External Awareness Identifies and keeps up to date on key international policies and economic, political, and social trends that affect the organization. Understands near-term and long-range plans and determines how to best be positioned to achieve a competitive business advantage in a global economy.
Creativity and Innovation Develops new insights into situations and applies innovative solutions to make organizational improvements; creates a work environment that encourages creative thinking and innovation; designs and implements new or cutting-edge programs/processes.
Strategic Thinking Formulates effective strategies consistent with the business and competitive strategy of the organization in a global economy. Examines policy issues and strategic planning with a long-term perspective. Determines objectives and sets priorities; anticipates potential threats or opportunities.
Continual Learning Grasps the essence of new information; masters new technical and business knowledge; recognizes own strengths and weaknesses; pursues self-development; seeks feedback from others and opportunities to master new knowledge.
Resilience Deals effectively with pressure; maintains focus and intensity and remains optimistic and persistent, even under adversity. Recovers quickly from setbacks. Effectively balances personal life and work.
Flexibility Is open to change and new information; adapts behavior and work methods in response to new information, changing conditions, or unexpected obstacles. Adjusts rapidly to new situations warranting attention and resolution.
Service Motivation Creates and sustains an organizational culture which permits others to provide the quality of service essential to high performance. Enables others to acquire the tools and support
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they need to perform well. Shows a commitment to public service. Influences others toward a spirit of service and meaningful contributions.
Conflict Management Identifies and takes steps to prevent potential situations that could result in unpleasant confrontations. Manages and resolves conflicts and disagreements in a positive and constructive manner to minimize negative impact.
Leveraging Diversity Recruits, develops, and retains a diverse high-quality work- force in an equitable manner. Leads and manages an inclusive workplace that maximizes the talents of each person to achieve sound business results. Respects, understands, values, and seeks out individual differences to achieve the vision and mission of the organization. Develops and uses measures and rewards to hold self and others accountable for achieving results that embody the principles of diversity.
Team Building Inspires, motivates, and guides others toward goal accomplish- ments. Consistently develops and sustains cooperative working relationships. Encourages and facilitates cooperation within the organization and with customer groups; fosters commitment, team spirit, pride, trust. Develops leadership in others through coaching, mentoring, rewarding, and guiding employees.
Integrity/Honesty Instills mutual trust and confidence; creates a culture that fosters high standards of ethics; behaves in a fair and ethical manner toward others, and demonstrates a sense of corporate responsibility and commitment to public service.
Competency Description Oral Communication Makes clear and convincing oral presentations to individuals or
groups; listens effectively and clarifies information as needed; facilitates an open exchange of ideas and fosters atmosphere of open communication.
Written Communication Expresses facts and ideas in writing in a clear, convincing, and organized manner.
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Appendix 3 3
Influencing/Negotiating Persuades others; builds consensus through give and take; gains cooperation from others to obtain information and accomplish goals; facilitates “win-win” situations.
Partnering Develops networks and builds alliances, engages in cross- functional activities; collaborates across boundaries, and finds common ground with a widening range of stakeholders. Utilizes contacts to build and strengthen internal support bases.
Political Savvy Identifies the internal and external politics that impact the work of the organization. Approaches each problem situation with a clear perception of organizational and political reality, recognizes the impact of alternative courses of action.
Interpersonal Skills Considers and responds appropriately to the needs, feelings, and capabilities of different people in different situations; is tactful, compassionate, and sensitive, and treats others with respect.
Competency Description Accountability Assures that effective controls are developed and maintained to ensure
the integrity of the organization. Holds self and others accountable for rules and responsibilities. Can be relied upon to ensure that projects within areas of specific responsibility are completed in a timely manner and within budget. Monitors and evaluates plans, focuses on results and measuring attainment of outcomes.
Problem Solving Identifies and analyzes problems; distinguishes between relevant and irrelevant information to make logical decisions; provides solutions to individual and organizational problems.
Decisiveness Exercises good judgment by making sound and well-informed decisions; perceives the impact and implications of decisions; makes effective and timely decisions, even when data are limited or solutions produce unpleasant consequences; is proactive and achievement oriented.
Customer Service Balances interests of a variety of clients; readily readjusts priorities to respond to pressing and changing client demands. Anticipates and meets the need of clients; achieves quality end- products; is committed to continuous improvement of services.
Entrepreneurship Identifies opportunities to develop and market new products and services within or outside of the organization. Is willing to take risks; initiates actions that involve a deliberate risk to achieve a recognized benefit or advantage.
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Technical Credibility Understands and appropriately applies procedures, requirements, regulations, and policies related to specialized expertise. Is able to make sound hiring and capital resource decisions and to address training and development needs. Understands linkages between administrative competencies and mission needs.
Competency Description Financial Management Demonstrates broad understanding of principles of financial
management and marketing expertise necessary to ensure appropriate funding levels. Prepares, justifies, and/or administers the budget for the program area; uses cost-benefit thinking to set priorities; monitors expenditures in support of programs and policies. Identifies cost-effective approaches. Manages procurement and contracting.
Human Resources Management
Assesses current and future staffing needs based on organizational goals and budget realities. Using merit principles, ensures staff is appropriately selected, developed, utilized, appraised, and rewarded; takes corrective action.
Technology Management Uses efficient and cost-effective approaches to integrate technology into the workplace and improve program effectiveness. Develops strategies using new technology to enhance decision making. Understands the impact of technological change on the organization.
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C H A P T E R 4
C H A P T E R 2 THE POLITICAL CONTEXT OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
Your involvement in public organizations, whether in your career or as a private citi-zen, will inevitably center on the development, implementation, and evaluation of public policies. You may work for an agency charged with devising new approaches to familiar problems, you may want to see that a particular policy or proposal is framed in a way that is consistent with your beliefs, or you may simply want to better understand the implications of a particular direction in national, state, or local public policy. In any case, it will be helpful for you to know how public policies are designed and put into practice.
Talk of public policy is, of course, quite familiar. From one day to another, we hear criticisms of the U.S. policy in the Middle East, proposals for new initiatives in health care, calls for a more effective drug enforcement policy, challenges to a school district’s approach to violence in the schools, ideas for changing a city’s policy toward the homeless, or proposals for altering an organization’s hiring practices. Uses of the term policy are var- ied, and the process by which policies are developed is even more complex.
We may think of a policy as a statement of goals and intentions with respect to a par- ticular problem or set of problems, a statement often accompanied by a more detailed set of plans, programs, or instructions for pursuing those goals. Public policies are authorita- tive statements made by legitimate governmental actors (the chief executive, the legisla- ture, public agencies) or nongovernmental actors (nonprofit organizations, foundations, quasi-governmental organizations, private corporations) about important, and sometimes not so important, public problems. We expect decision makers at all levels to spend con- siderable time and energy dealing with such topics as foreign affairs, health, education, employment, the economy, civil rights, the environment, energy, transportation, housing, agriculture, law enforcement, and myriad other issues. But in each of these areas, public policy is simply what an agency or an entire network of public, private, and nonprofit organizations decides to do or not do.
Organizations in all sectors are deeply involved in carrying out public policy—executing or “implementing.” But these organizations are also involved in developing policy. Govern- mental and nongovernmental organizations play an important role in shaping public policy. Proposals are written and submitted by agency personnel; testimony and other expert advice are presented; and representatives of various agencies, especially political appointees who head agencies, often seek to build public support for particular ideas. Those in government agencies, and increasingly in nonprofit organizations, are often asked to elaborate on or clar- ify legislative intentions, and, in doing so, they continue the process of policy development.
Moreover, public, private, and nonprofit organizations not only develop policies that guide their own activities, but they also seek to influence the course of public policy on
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behalf of their members or other constituencies. Many such groups limit their activities to providing public information and seeking to indirectly affect the formation of policies in their area of interest. But others are far more direct, employing lobbyists and others whose specific job is to influence the policy process.
To understand the conduct of specific public and nonprofit organizations in the policy process, you must have some understanding of the context in which these organizations operate. That context is not merely physical; it includes the beliefs and values that shape our expectations of the organizations as well as the structures we have developed to try to maintain those values. In large part, the complexity of the policy process in this country is the result of the Founding Fathers’ fear of concentrated power, a fear they sought to allay by organizing the federal government into three branches—executive, legislative, and judicial—so that no one branch could exert itself above the others. In this formula- tion, the primary task of the legislative branch is to make the laws, the primary task of the executive branch is to carry out the laws, and the primary task of the judicial branch is to interpret the laws. As we will see, our political system has evolved in such a way that the relations between and among the various branches, and between governmental and nongovernmental institutions, remain a central issue in conducting public programs. This chapter focuses on the relations between public administrators and the executive, the leg- islature, and the judiciary as they work together to seek important policy goals.
Administrative Organizations and Executive Leadership As we saw in Chapter 1, public administrators work in federal, state, and local govern- ments and in nonprofit organizations and associations. But, understandably, the federal government, simply by virtue of its size and the range of its activities, has become the model against which others are often judged. For that reason, we begin our discussion of the political context of American public administration by examining the development of the national administrative system and the role of the chief executive in that system.
Again it is helpful to begin with a brief historical review, primarily because some of the arguments that characterized discussions of administration in the early days of our nation are quite similar to those that continue to confront us. Take, for example, the difference between the Federalist view, expressed most forcefully by Alexander Hamilton, and that of the Jeffersonians, led by (you guessed it!) Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton and his Federal- ist colleagues argued for a strong centralized government, staffed and managed by men of wealth, class, and education. “The Federalist preference for the executive branch was a faithful reflection of their distrust of the people. An intelligent perception of sound public policy, in their view, could come only from well-educated men of affairs, men with trained minds and broad experience—in short from the upper classes” (White, 1948, p. 410).
The Jeffersonians, on the other hand, saw the administration of government as inti- mately connected to the problem of extending democracy throughout the nation. They thus preferred a more decentralized approach to the executive function and sought formal legal controls on the executive so that executive power would not be abused (Caldwell, 1964). These democratic views reached their pinnacle in the administration of