Thursday, June 20, 2013

New Public Administration

Towards the end of 1960s, a number of challenges appeared before the American society. Some of these were frustration caused due to the prolonged Vietnam War, rapid increase of population, the problems of environmental destruction, increasing social unrest and the economic crisis etc. The younger generation questioned the effectiveness and the response of the political & administrative system. Restoration of "values" and service for "service purpose" were called in the administration. It was recommended that the administration should have humanistic values. Administration should be responsive to the needs of the citizens and it should show "social equity" while delivery goods and services. This line of thinking provided a new philosophical outlook for public administration in the form of "New Public Administration". A "multi-disciplinary", "public policy" and "social equity" oriented public administration was sought to be achieved.

Various Events towards the Development of New Public Administration

The significant events which led to the development of new public administration were:

  1. The Honey Report on Higher Education for Public Service

  2. The Philadelphia Conference on the Theory and Practice of Public Administration

  3. The Minnowbrook Conference - I

  4. The Minnowbrook Conference - II

The Honey Report on Higher Education for Public Service

The American Society of Public Administration (ASPA) was quite concerned with the growth of public administration as a discipline and enlarging its scope. The curriculum offered by the various universities was sought to be enlarged. John Honey of Syracuse University undertook an study to evaluate the study of Public Administration in the American universities. The major recommendations of this report were:

  • Lot of ambiguity over the status of the discipline

  • Insufficient funds with the university departments to promote the discipline

  • Communication gap between the academicians and the practitioners of public administration.

  • Lack of institutional capacity

To overcome the above shortcomings, following recommendations were made:

  • Sufficient resources to be generated from the government and the business

  • Promoting higher studies in public administration

  • Professors of public administration should be appointed to governmental positions to fill the gap between academia and the practitioners

  • A National Commission on Public Service Education should be set up to provide the overall leadership in the study of public administration

The Honey Report laid a foundation for the study of public administration and its role in generating social awareness.

The Philadelphia Conference

Conference on "The Theory & Practice of Public Administration", popularly called the Philadelphia Conference, was organized in 1967 under the leadership of James C. Charlesworth by the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences. The various concerns that emerged out of the deliberations in this conference were:

  • The massive increase in the functions and their complexities calls for widening the scope of public administration. Further the discipline should be made more flexible to develop it properly.

  • The discipline was considered with the policy making and the policy execution both so politics-administration dichotomy was useless.

  • Public Administration should be more applied in nature both as a discipline and as an activity i.e. it should focus more on social problems such as poverty, unemployment and environment etc.

  • The discipline should promote social equity as well as other values such as efficiency, accountability, people's participation in decision making and administrative responsiveness etc.

  • The management should be flexible and should be innovative to achieve the effectiveness. The factors strengthening the administrative hierarchy and the rigidity should not be stressed upon.

  • Administrators should be trained in professional schools.

  • The "social sensitivities" besides managerial abilities and skills should be sharpened by the training programmes in public administration.

  • The training programmes should especially emphasize the "administrative ethics".

This conference, considered to be of great significance in the evolution of public administration, provided a broad philosophical framework to public administration and its result was that Minnowbrook conference was convened in1968.

The First Minnowbrook Conference, 1968

As already mentioned, the American society faced a lot of socio-economic and technological problems in 1960s. There was optimism that public administration could provide solution to these problems. The commitment to the social institutions such as family, church, media as well as to the institutions such as government and profession declined in the American society. This resulted due to the pessimism and cynicism existing in the younger generations towards these institutions. There existed some other factors also such as denial of share to the Black Americans in the growing prosperity of America in 1950s and 1960s. Further before 1960s, the public administrators had experience a wide variety of events such as the Great Depression, New Deal and the Second World War. Hence the field of public administration was experiencing a number of changing perspectives already. The Minnowbrook Conference was organized to analyze the effect of these changing perspectives on the philosophy of public administration and government.

Young scholars of public administration assembled for this conference at Minnowbrook under the guidance of Dwight Waldo in 1968. This conference aimed at making public administration "socially relevant" and a "change agent" in society. Out of the deliberations held at this conference new public administration emerged out.

The important concerns emerging out of this conference were:

  1. The public policy approach to public administration has a significant effect on the quality of government, hence it was emphasised. Traditionally public administration has been considered as mere concerned with the implementation of public policy but this view has been proved wrong.

  2. Social equity, in addition to the traditionally considered values such as "economy & efficiency", was emphasised in the policy implementation process.

  3. Values such as ethics, honesty and responsibility were considered as the key in the provision of public service.

  4. As public needs change the nature and functions of public institutions also need to change. The government agencies could be reduced wherever it was needed.

  5. The responsive government should be concerned about managing this ''change" not just the growth.

  6. For public administration to be effective, the citizenry has to be "active and participative".

  7. Hierarchy was challenged and de-emphasised.

  8. In the overall decision making process, the important role played by implementation was emphasized.

  9. It was realized that "pluralism" had ceased to be the standard for the practice of public administration.

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