The chronology of Public Administration Concepts

By Suwida Nuamcharoen

The previous blog is mentioned about Summary of Public administration theoretical framework in USA. Now I will continue with The chronology of Public Administration Concepts. 

If the timeline is divided into two periods, the first period starts from 1887 – 1937 and the second period starts from 1971 until 1983. The first part shows a strong sense of ideal type of Public Administration, starting from the separation of power, civil-service reform, personnel preparation and public opinion encouragement (Woodrow Wilson, 1887). The idea of separation of power was emphasized again thirteen year later by Frank J. Goodnow and he continued to show that a harmony in politics and administration could make the Public administration a better one. The prototype of bureaucracy expressed the strong emotion about how people expected from the government and state officers or “Bureaucrats” (Max Waber, 1922). In the last section of the first period in timeline, the very modern theory concerning the division of work and the POSDCORB theory were introduced. A concrete business and behavioral sciences have their first start in their Public Administration (Luther Gulick, 1937).

The second part of the timeline starts from the Organization Theory of George H. Frederickson (1971). Then, the concerns about state officers rose. The personnel were suggested to be prepared for giving services to the citizens because they represented the government and its functions. However, the concerns about the state officers themselves were taken into account of Frederick C. Mosher (1982). He introduced the idea of Unionization and Collective Bargaining. The timeline was concluded with the idea of the separation of power again but in a more practical way. David H. Rosenbloom (1983) conveyed three approaches: the Managerial approach, the Political Approach and the Legal Approach. It can be concluded that the more recent theories in the second part of the timelines represents the practices and exercises for the Public Administration than the ideological idea about how the Public Administration should be. It can be noticed further that the separation of power is the main emphasis of the Public Administration starting from 1887 and almost two hundred years later. This issue is still in trend for many theorists. The model below represents the development of the concepts on Public Administration through the timeline.


Figure 2: the chronology of Public Administration Concepts (Author’s picture)


          In a similar way, Nicolas Henry has already presented the five paradigms of Public Administration before. It is interesting to wrap up the theoretical ideas with Henry’s paradigms in order to emphasize the concept of the timeline. The first paradigm is Paradigm1: The Politics/Administration Dichotomy (1900-1926). In this paradigm, the notion was to strengthen a distinct politics/administration dichotomy by relating it to value/fact dichotomy. The concentration was on Frank J. Goodnow’s and Leonard D. White’s works. Paradigm 2 is The Principles of  Administration (1927-1937). The concentration of study during this period was on focus – essential expertise in the form of administrative principles. For example, Luther H. Gullick and Lyndall Urwick’s papers on the Science of Administration called the “high noon of orthodoxy” pointed out the importance of principles to favor ‘focus’. Paradigm 3 is Public Administration as Political Science, 1950-1970 (locus). This paradigm starts with establishing linkages between public administration and political science. Public administration is an “emphasis”, an “area of interest”, a “synonym” of political science. However, the Public Administration Review was slipping in prestige among political scientists relative to other journals and signaled a decline of faculty in public administration.

Paradigm 4 is Public Administration as management 1956-1970 (focus). A conflict arises between the public administration and private administration as triggered by administrative science. However, after years of painful dilemma, it was conceived that the concept of determining and implementing the public interest constitutes a definition of public administration. Public Administration as Public Administration,1970 (locus) is the Paradigm 5. The term “public affairs” became popularized; in addition to, Public administration practitioners have been increasingly concerned on areas of policy science, political economy, public policy-making process and its analysis, measurement of policy outputs. Public administration is, at last, intellectually prepared for the building of an institutionally autonomous educational curriculum. This is because of the presence of a paradigmatic focus of organization theory and management science and also a paradigmatic locus of the public interest as it relates to public affairs.


163 total views, 1 views today