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Public Administration Essay

3843 words - 16 pages

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Public Administration

Public administration is to implement law. In the American system, authority flows from the people to those they vote to govern them. While a legislature passes a law and an executive signs it, the law does not implement itself. That is the task the legislature delegates to the administrator, and it is this chain of authority, flowing from the people through elected institutions to the public administrator, that makes public administration distinctively public. Faithful execution of these laws is the highest calling of public administrators and the core of administrative accountability.

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It is usually assumed that the public sector administrator must be motivated by a wish to provide the public interest: "Uphold these principles, ever conscious that public office is a public trust." (CODE OF ETHICS FOR GOVERNMENT SERVICE available at: )
Max Weber, a German sociologist, was neither much read nor often noted in this America until significantly after the beginnings of the field of public administration as an object of self-conscious study. Moreover, administration was not the major focus of Weber's analysis (Reinhard Bendix, 1960, 3).
In spite of his general admiration for bureaucracy, Weber there was also its flaws. As an organizational form, bureaucracy subjects the individual to a domineering routine, limits individual freedom, and favours the "crippled personality" of the specialist. As a potential political force, bureaucracy becomes a peril while it oversteps its proper function and attempts to manage the rule of law rather than be subject to it. Weber argues that the bureaucrat must stay out of politics and limit himself to the "impartial administration of his office" and that he must subordinate his personal opinion on matters of policy to his sense of duty (Gerth and Wright Mills, 1946).
Theorists quickly established bureaucratic characteristics as standards to be followed in making-up large-scale organizations. They developed elaborate systems of elements "necessary" for competent operation of their organizations. Typical of this effort is the work of Henri Fayol (1916), the French scientific manager who recognized 14 principles of organization to make sure efficient organizational performance.

Taylor’s scientific management and descendent theories
However, at the beginning of the twentieth century, industrial technology was budding rapidly in America and Europe, and labour was becoming extremely specialized. As a result, engineers were being called on to assist design work systems and optimize efficiency. One of these engineers, Frederick W. Taylor (1911), developed the idea of Scientific Management, which had a major collision on the shaping of classical organizational theory. Taylor's concepts of work system structure are implied in his four basic principles of management (Szilagyi & Wallace, 1990, p. 662).
First. Develop a science for each element of man's work that replaces the old rule-of-thumb method.
Second. Systematically select and train, teach, and develop the workman. In the past he chose his own work and trained himself as best he could.
Third. Hardily assist with the men in order to ensure all of the work is being done in accordance with the principles of the science that has been developed.
Fourth. Give equal division of work and accountability between the management and the workmen. The management takes over all work for which they are more capable than the workmen. In the past, almost all the work and...

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