Conference on the Theory and Practice of Public Administration – Essay

‘The Theory and Practice of Public Administration: Scope, Objectives and Methods’. James C. Charles worth Chairman of the conference thus described the feeling of the participants.

“The participants in this meeting evinced a mood to make a bold and synoptic approach to the discipline of Public Administration and sought, to measure the importance of Public Administration in a broad philosophic context and to consider whether it is an adornment of the mind as well as a practical instrument of government”.

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Varied were the views expressed by the participants. Public administration was viewed as an academic discipline as a field exercise and as a profession.

Some defined Public Administration as administration in the public interest’ while others made it conterminous with government administration.

There was thus no agreed definition of public administration but there emerged broad consensus on the following points:Theory and Practice of Public Administration

1. It is just as difficult to delineate the scope of Public Administration as it is to define it.

2. Public Administration agencies make policy and the policy administration dichotomy erroneous.

3. American Public Administration as a discipline should deal restrictively with public administration in America.

4. Bureaucracy should be studied functionally as well as structurally.

5. Public Administration and Business Administration training should not be combined since they are similar only in unimportant aspects.

6. Public Administration as a profession should remain separate from the profession and discipline of political science.

7. Normative administrative theory as well as descriptive analytic theory in Public Administration is in a state of disarray.

8. A hierarchical or pyramidal view of organizational authority is no longer appropriate, administrators must view workers as ‘coordinates’ rather than ‘subordinates’. The executive is not so much on top as he is in the centre, being affected by “subordinates who surround him.

9. Policy and political considerations are replacing management ability as the major focus of concern in Public Administration. Computerised information is not good simply because it is not computerised nor does PPBS provide reliable political answers.

10. Administrators of future should be trained in professional schools; public administration curricula should emphasize not only administrative organization and procedures but also the “Psychological, financial, sociological and anthropological envelopment of the subject.”

11. Public Administration has not been able to deal with societal problems. It has not caught up with emerging problems, like the huge military industrial complex, riots, labour unions, stripes etc.

12. Public Administration is a discipline but it cannot employ all the methodologies of the contemporary social science- While parts of Public Administration we capable of using scientific methods, others which are the most important parts of the discipline are not lamicable to scientific treatment.

It is significant that some at least of these views found full throated expression in the Minnowbrook conference, and thus viewed the Philadelphia conference could be credited with being a precursor of the Minnowbrook event.