Abstract One cannot begin to digest the dichotomy of public administration without first examining a theorist at the forefront of the field, Woodrow Wilson. Wilson along with civil servants promoted civil service reform in 1880. This catapulted the field of public administration into scholastics. Woodrow Wilson stated that, “Our own politics must be the touchstone for all theories–the principles on which to base a science of administration for America must be principles which have democratic policy very much at heart. Within the lines of this paper we will compare and contrast several theorists and theories related to public administration as it relates to the supporting the development of administration and politics as it relates to today’s society. Theorist that will be examined will include, but are not limited to Aristotle, Luther Gulick, Lorenz von Stein, Plato, Machiavelli, Max Weber, and Woodrow Wilson. From the standpoint of public administration social science, literature in general, “bureaucracy” means much more than the various characteristics of modern organization (Stillman, 2010). Public Administration Mind Map
There are many definitions and opinions as to exactly what public administration is or what it encompasses. One thing that holds true is that this area is linked heavily to political science (Starling, 2008). This field encompasses a wide variety of areas and certainly cannot be contained in a bubble—narrow definitions will not do public administration justice. Managers in all public organizations are continually dealing with uncertainty and unexpected events, whether it is something as small as the loss of key employees or something as large and as dramatic as a terrorist attack, a hurricane, or an earthquake (Starling, 2008).
Random House unabridged dictionary states that public administration houses the implementation of government policy and academic discipline that studies this implementation and that prepares civil servants for this work (Encyclopedia Britanica, 2001). Because of the wide variety of definitions of the field of public administration, there is really no definition that has the true ability to define this field in a “nutshell. ” Aristotle In one’s daily life and associations with others it is the overall aim of that person to portray and actually do well.
Aristotle believed that man “man is a political animal”: one can only achieve the good life by living as citizens in a state (Miller, 2011). He made it absolutely clear that he believed in and supported private property, defended slavery, and condemned slavery. Aristotle proposed the distributive justice principle stating that benefits should be conferred upon different citizens differently, depending on the contributions they make on the contribution they make to the well-being of the state (Miller, 2011).
Eudemonia is defined according to Aristotle, as what the good life of a man and women turns out to be (Starling, 2008). One does not set goals and have aspirations to have a bad life, but it happens. Each person actually has an inbread goal to be successful, happy, and at peace. This theorist stated that there are two things regarding how to obtain eudemonia (Starling, 2008): 1. It’s virtually impossible to obtain happiness directly—it’s always a dividend. 2. We obtain happiness by practicing courage, temperance, prudence, and justice.
As a career in public administration is considered on must consider every possible pressure that will undoubtedly come from every angle and in order to reach eudemonia great effort must be put into the practice of morals, ethics, courage, and justice. Luther Gulick Gulick’s theory obviously was leveraged by the skills or job objective of management should be. With regard to public administration, he is well known for his use of the acronym, POSDCORB (Starling, 2008). This acronym stood for plan, organizes, staff, direct, coordinate, report, and budget and in essence are the duties that should be associated with management.
In Gulick’s time the separation of politics and administration was the norm, but he believed that it was virtually impossible to separate administration and politics. He believed that human beings were the chief and critical factors for comprehending the nature of Public Administration today and driving the field into the future. With this theory, he seemed to understand how human beings create the energetic factors that were and is inherent in the study of public administration. As a public servant and activist in the field of public administration, Gulick strongly believed that it was ossible to separate politics and administration. Lorenz von Stein Mr. Lorenz von Stein (1815-1890) was a German economist, sociologist, and public administration scholar who in many parts of the world was and is thought of as the founder of the science of public administration in 1855 (Rodriquez, 2011). His thoughts were that sociology, finance, administrative law and sociology were clusters that fell under the umbrella of public administration. One would have to, according to this theorist intertwine both theory and practice and one could not operate outside of the other.
Another theory that Von Stein is known for is the belief that public administration is a science because knowledge is generated and evaluated according to the scientific method (Rodriquez, 2011). Between the years of 1855 and 1885 he was a professor of economy at the University of Vienna (Rodriquez, 2011). During that time period his work is known the basis by which the international science of public administration transpired. Plato Unlike the theories that Aristotle brought to the forefront, Plato’s outlook was that of a fundamentalist.
His theory stated that although government could be large in numbers; power should only be entitled to few. Plato’s philosophical dialogues reflect the fundamental issue in the Greek city states that derives from their fundamental difference from imperial states around them: where a monarch, emperor, or despot appoints his functionaries, the citizens of a Greek city state must elect from among rival claimants the best man for the job (Suzanne, 2011). Actually expanding the explanation of and differences between titles gave an entirely new way of viewing and understanding public administration.
Machiavelli In the spectrum of public administration individuals involved in government and those who hold positions are expected to operate by standards that are morally sound and fair. Machiavelli is well known for his book titled, “The Prince. ” This book basically gives directions necessary to control and maintain power. This theory contradicts the idea of being morally just or fair. To support Machiavelli’s theories one would have to feel that control and power is more effective than showing positive and morally sound judgment.
Max Weber Max Weber’s career was that of an economist and sociologist. His theories are among that of theorists of his time as influential. He is seen as in the rankings as one of the main figures in the administration of social science. Weber’s two most celebrated contributions were the, “Rationalization thesis,” a grand-meta historical analysis of the dominance of the West in modern times, and the “Protestant Ethic thesis,” a non-Marxist genealogy of modern capitalism (Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2007).
These two writings contributed to his current notoriety in the field of public administration and political realism. Woodrow Wilson Woodrow Wilson along with many others during his era were able to bring to the forefront the study and field of public administration through the American civil service reform. This reform asked that non-partisan methods and credentials be the means by which civil servants were selected. Wilson was the twenty-eighth President of the United States and well-known for his leadership of the Progressive Movement.
He was also instrumental in passing many reforms while in office. He believed in and supported segregation and accepted many white southerners into this administration. Wilson is well know as well for his essays titled, The Study of Administration,” which have been coined in many arenas as the actual start of public administration. He sought to reposition major concerns of public administration to that of researching the field, the boundaries by which government offices operated, the efficiency and cost effectiveness of these boundaries.
There have been many challenges with the theories that each of the aforementioned theorists brought to the table, but one has to remain open minded. The word evolution is equal to change. The evolution of public administration has changed over time—many theories and theorist are very vital in this broad field and all are just as important as the other. Public administration and its role in society today and in days past have and will remain one of lasting debate. The difference of politics and administrative supported by Woodrow Wilson continues to play a substantial role in public administration today.
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L. (2011, May 14). The new public administration model. Retrieved August 3, 2011, from Gobierno y Administracion: http://gobiernoyadministracion. wordpress. com/2010/05/14/the-new-public-administration-model/ Starling, G. (2008). Managing the public sector (8th edition). Boston, MA: Thomson Wadsworth. Stillman, R. (2010). Public administration: Concepts and cases (9th ed. ). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. Suzanne, B. (2011, February 1). Plato and his dialogues. Retrieved September 14, 2011, from http://plato-dialogues/plato. htm