APSA Public Administration Section's
Volume 2, Issue
2, Fall 2003
October 7, 2003
fellow public administration scholars!
back to the PA Section Electronic Newsletter, your vehicle for basic information
about section activities and events that are of broad interest to our community
of political scientists who study bureaucracy, administration, and management.
Each newsletter also contains a topical editorial and a number of links to important
information sources. The Electronic Newsletter is edited by Patrick
Wolf of Georgetown University, with important technical assistance provided
by Mel Dubnick of Rutgers University-Newark.
from the 17th Annual
John Gaus Lecture, American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, PA,
29 August 2003. A more extensive version will appear in
PS: Political Science & Politics, January 2004. Excerpt printed with
students of public administration have claimed, as rationale for the field, that
the Prince, the President, the Legislator or the Ruling Class needs help. In contrast,
John Gaus argued that it is the citizens who need help. From the latter perspective,
the questions become, under what conditions is it likely that administration will
provide help in democratic settings where legitimate government depends on popular
consent? To help citizens effectively, does it make any difference how public
administration, and in particular the relations between administrators and citizens
Gaus places public administration in a larger political
setting, as a core institution of democratic government. A theory of administration
also has to be a theory of politics. The support of public opinion is essential.
The purposes and methods of administration should be derived from citizens and
the whole body of citizens should have ultimate control. Good government depends
upon the quality of organization, and a theory of administrative organization
should specify what the proper role of citizens should be, and how relations between
citizens and administration can best be organized.
Gaus argues that the
task of the academic discipline is to identify, describe and analyze important
developments that public administration faces and constantly redefine the field
in the light of new experiences. Understanding the conditions under which administration
adapts, or fails to adapt, to changing circumstances and shifting public opinion,
requires first hand observation of government in action. Important developments
can best be observed at sites and in eras where established institutions are disintegrating.
Scholars are advised to observe the search for new institutions to replace decaying
or overthrown ones, and the development of workable explanations of citizens'
relation to institutions. The discipline should avoid "arrogant generalization"
and aspire "to put together a tentative, working hypothesis of government
to set alongside the older ones".
How many, and which, administrative
phenomena can be understood on the basis of a priori assumptions about a single,
universal set of behavioral logics, organizational arrangements and dynamics of
change, is an empirical question. If, however, no single set of assumptions is
found to be more fruitful than all the others under all conditions and if different
assumptions are not seen as necessarily mutually exclusive, then theoretically
inclined public administration scholars may join foundational debates in other
social sciences. They may resolve public administration into a limited number
of basic behavioral logics, structures and processes. Then they can examine their
variations, shifting significance, scope conditions, prerequisites and interplay,
and they can explore ideas that can reconcile and synthesize different sets of
assumptions. The agenda is tall, yet a modest step is to consider three subjects
of theory development.
SUBJECTS OF THEORY DEVELOPMENT. First, public administration
theory may benefit from taking into account the observation of a great diversity
in human motivation and modes of action. Actors are driven by habit, emotion,
coercion, interpretation of internalized rules and principles, as well as calculated
expected utility and incentive structures. Human character is variable and changeable,
not universal and constant.
For example, New Public Management assumes
self-interested, utility maximizing actors. "Old Public Administration"
assumes administrators socialized into an ethos of rule following and public service.
Actors are, however, constituted both by their interests, by which they evaluate
expected consequences, and by the rules embedded in their identities and institutions.
They try to calculate consequences and follow rules, and the relationship between
the two is often subtle. Therefore, rather than assuming a single dominant behavioral
logic, we may explore behavioral logics as complementary. We may inquire where
and how different logics of actions and a sense of administrative identity and
role is developed, lost and redefined. We may also seek a better understanding
of the interrelationship between strategic and rule-driven action and the conditions
under which one logic comes to dominate another.
Secondly, public administration
theory may also benefit from taking into account the observed diversity of organized
settings and types of collectivities and social relationships within which administrators
operate, and their different types of impact. Hierarchies, markets and networks
are commonplace in modern democracies and institutions have a role in coercion,
in managing exchange, in redistribution, in building an administrative culture,
and in developing constitutive structures for the sustenance of civic virtue and
democratic politics. Institutions provide opportunity and incentive structures
regulating behavior and impacting transaction costs. They also constitute and
transform actors by shaping their identities and mentalities through deliberation
and socialization, and forms of government have historically been assessed according
to their ability to foster the virtue and intelligence of the community.
organized settings are seen as interdependent, supplementary and competing, understanding
is not likely to be furthered by a single set of assumptions. The success of one
institution depends on the organization and functioning of a larger configuration
of institutions, differently organized. Furthermore, identification can be a powerful
motivator, yet identities can seldom be decreed from above. A challenge is to
understand variations in the capacity and legitimacy to develop democratic officials
and citizens with a sense of community, civility and common good through differently
organized administrative processes.
Thirdly, public administration theory
may provide a better understanding of continuity and change if, rather than assuming
structural choice, it is observed that administrative life continuously achieves
and loses structure through a variety of processes that may interact in complicated
ways. Administrative change is a study in path dependencies as well as path departures.
Authority is achieved, maintained and lost. The basic units are constituted and
reconstituted, and so are their relationships in terms of integration and disintegration,
formalization and de-formalization, centralization and decentralization, politicization
and de-politicization, bureaucratization and de-bureaucratization, professionalization
Change may be driven by functional-instrumental
concerns, by a commitment to principles and by shifting cycles of attention and
cycles of trust in institutions and agents. Yet, attempts to reform public administration
implies intervention in large-scale, complex configurations of institutions with
pre-existing identities, structures, internal dynamics and resources and it can
not always be assumed that leaders simply choose structures. Change processes
include deliberate design and reform, but also rule-following, learning, diffusion,
imitation and competitive selection. Therefore, a key question is: What is the
role of human intention, reflection and choice in the development of institutions
of good government? Under what conditions, and through what mechanisms, can actors
rise above, and get beyond, existing institutional structures? Exploring the latitude
of purposeful reform, institutional abilities to adapt spontaneously to environmental
changes and environmental effectiveness in eliminating sub-optimal institutions
requires attention to several dynamics of change, not a commitment to a single
dynamic or mechanism.
HELPING THROUGH COOPERATION. John Gaus was right.
Citizens need help. Direct participation by the people in administrative processes
contributes to government for the people but only under some conditions. Citizens
depend on the democratic quality of the institutions and actors that affect their
life chances. They need institutions and agents that act reliably and with competence
and integrity on the basis of agreed-upon, publicly known and fairly stable principles
and rules, standards and objectives.
Gaus was also right arguing that
any modern theory of public administration has to be a theory of politics and,
as he implied, any modern theory of politics has also to be a theory of administration.
In democracies, the distinction between administration and politics is as basic
to legitimating administration as the two are difficult to separate in practice.
A challenge for the discipline is to specify the conditions under which various
institutions, processes and agents provide help to citizens.
students of public administration have to recognize that what citizens want from
government, what they are willing to contribute in terms of time and resources,
their beliefs about "good administration" and their trust in institutions
and agents, are formed partly endogenously in administrative processes. In order
to effectively help citizens in such a complex world public administration may
have to cooperate more than before beyond specific national settings and across
schools of thought.
administration scholars were a force to be reckoned with at the 99th Annual Meetings
of the American Political Science Association in Philadelphia, PA. Here are the
Under the deft leadership of Program Chair Norma Riccucci,
the PA Section fielded 12 paper panels and a total of 17 sections.
Ed Kellough delivered his annual update on the PA Section's favorable financial
status. The Section added almost $1,700 in new income last year to reach a balance
of over $6,900 -- despite e-newsletter expenses of, well, $0.00.
Chair Charles Wise described how a number of scholars lost their membership in
the PA Section because they assumed that APSA would automatically re-enroll them
each year. After Charlie contacted them about the fact that Section Members must
actively check the box themselves each year, many of them quickly renewed their
Mel Dubnick, the section webmaster, announced that
we have received over 2000 hits on our PA Section web-site, with many of them
from international sources.
The assemblage elected the following
Section Officials by thunderous acclamation:
Lloyd Nigro, Georgia
State University, Chair
Norma Riccucci, Rutgers University-Newark,
Katherine Newcomer, George Washington University,
Trevor Brown, Ohio State University, Council
Patricia Florestano, University of Baltimore, Council
H. Brint Milward, University of Arizona, Council
Thanks to Charlie Wise for his exemplary chairmanship
of the PA Section over the past year. He will be rewarded/punished with an additional
year of service on the Council. Also thanks for the service of outgoing Council
Members Guy Adams, Marissa Martino Golden, Ann Chih Lin, and Nichole de Montricher.
2003 Kaufman Award was bestowed upon Evelyn Z. Brodkin, Carolyn Fuqua, and Katarina
Thoren for their outstanding paper, "Contracting Welfare Reform: Uncertainties
of Capacity-Building Within Disjointed Federalism," delivered at the 2002
APSA Annual Meetings in Boston. Congratulations to Evelyn, Carolyn, and Katarina!
of Public Administration 2003 Best Article Award was given to Gregory Saxton,
Chris Haney, and Steven Erie for their article, "Fiscal Constraints and the
Loss of Home-Rule." Kudos to Gregory, Chris, and Steven! (PA scholars who
aspire to win awards next year are advised to work in teams of three, as that
seems to help.)
The call for papers
for the 2004 American Political Science Association Annual Meetings has been issued.
The deadline for proposals is November 14, 2003. This is the big one: number 100.
For information on how to join the festivities in Chicago, September 2-5, 2004,
surf to http://www.apsanet.org/mtgs/.
of Chicago, the Midwest Political Science Association has shocked everyone by
announcing that their 2004 Annual Meeting will be in, of all places, Chicago!
The event takes place April 15-18 at the Palmer House Hilton. The deadline for
paper proposals is October 10, 2003, so don't dither. Information is available
Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management is meeting November 6-8
to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The event will take place in Washington, DC.
For details, visit http://www.appam.org.
PA Section has established a Mentoring Committee to develop a section-sponsored
program for assisting public administration doctoral students and junior faculty.
For more information, please contact Ken Meier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The members of the Mentoring Committee are:
Ken Meier, Texas
A & M University, Chair
Richard Feiock, Florida State University
Gonzalez Juenke, Texas A & M University
Greg Lewis, Georgia
Katherine Naff, San Francisco State University
Terry, University of Texas - Dallas
Public Management Research Association (PMRA) recently held officer elections.
Emerging from the political rough-and-tumble are the following victors:
Meier, Texas A & M University, President (through 2005)
O'Toole, University of Georgia, Vice-President (becomes President in 2005)
Frederickson, University of Kansas, Treasurer (through 2005)
Bardach, University of California - Berkeley, Council Member
Ingraham, Syracuse University, Council Member
Ann Chih Lin,
University of Michigan, Council Member
Norma Riccucci, Rutgers
University-Newark, Council Member
to H. Brint Milward for his extraordinary service as founding President of the
PMRA. As a reward, the Association presented him with a paperweight and a 2004
Visiting Professorship in Hong Kong (or maybe he got that on his own).
Brint and B. Guy Peters were invited by the University
of Hong Kong's Department of Politics and Public Administration to conduct
month-long seminars in the department's public affairs workshop course. Brint's
will be on NGOs and non-departmental public bodies.
Other folks posted
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