Thursday, 15 September 2011

Calling Woodrow Wilson the father of public administration is doing injustice to equally or even more eminent contributions prior to him. Comment.

In the United States of America, Woodrow Wilson is considered the father of public administration. He first formally recognized public administration in an 1887 article entitled "The Study of Administration." The future president wrote that "it is the object of administrative study to discover, first, what government can properly and successfully do, and, secondly, how it can do these proper things with the utmost possible efficiency and at the least possible cost either of money or of energy”. He advocated politics-administration dichotomy. He also advocated a business oriented public administration which is concerned about economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Public administration should also emulate these values. Wilson wanted public administration to be a science of administration. In other words, administration as a discipline is to be studied scientifically and as an activity, it should be carried on systematically.

Even before Woodrow Wilson highlighted the need for an independent discipline called public administration, several classical scholars including Kautilya, Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, etc. have contributed in directly for the development of public administration as a discipline.

Nation States required professionally competent people to run the government effectively. Therefore, Frederick William of Prussia created professorates in cameralism to service this need. Cameralism is a German science of administration. In its origin, it was an educational path for the civil servants of royal chamber. Cameralism is a predecessor of the modern science of public administration. It has been viewed as a science of government.

Lorenz Von Stein, the German professor from Vienna is considered the founder of science of public administration in many parts of the world. He thought that public administration relies on many pre – established disciplines such as sociology, political science, administrative law and public finance. He advocated public administration as an integrating science. According to him public administrators need to be considered with both theory and practice. Finally he considered public administration as a science because knowledge is generated and evaluated according to scientific method.

Until the mid-20th century and the dissemination of the German sociologist Max Weber's theory of bureaucracy, there was not much interest in a theory of public administration. The field is multidisciplinary in character; one of the various proposals for public administration's sub-fields sets out five pillars, including human resources, organizational theory, policy analysis and statistics, budgeting, and ethics

In the light of the above observations, it would be fair to conclude that the evolution of public administration as a discipline is the result of the efforts put in by several intellectuals and practitioners over a period of time. To be fair, no single individual can claim to be the father of public administration.

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