The new public administration model


In the late 1990s, Janet and Robert Denhardt proposed a new public service model in response to the dominance of New Public Management[14]. This model’s chief contribution is a focus on Americans as “citizens” rather than “customers”. Accordingly, the citizen is expected to participate in government and take an active role throughout the policy process. No longer are the proprietors considered an end to a mean. While this remains feasible at the federal, state & local levels, where the concept of citizenship is commonly wedded, the emergence of ‘transnational administration’ with the growing number of international organizations and ‘transnational executive networks’ complicates the prospects for citizen engagement.[15]

One example of this is openforum.com.au, an Australian non-for-profit eDemocracy project which invites politicians, senior public servants, academics, business people and other key stakeholders to engage in high-level policy debate.

The critics of NPM claim that a successor to NPM is digital era governance, focusing on themes of reintegrating government responsibilities, needs-based holism (executing duties in cursive ways), and digitalization (exploiting the transformational capabilities of modern IT and digital storage).

In academia, the fields of Public Administration, are contrived in five pillars:[16]

Given the array of duties public administrators find themselves performing, the professional administrator might refer to a theoretical framework from which he or she might work. Indeed, many public and private administrative scholars have devised and modified decision-making models.

Niskanen’s budget-maximizing

An relatively recent rational choice variation, proposed by William Niskanen in a 1971 article budget-maximizing model, argued that rational bureaucrats will universally seek to increase their budgets, thereby contributing to state growth, measured by expenditure. Niskanen served on President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors; his model underpinned what has been touted as curtailed public spending and increased privatization. However, budgeted expenditures and the growing deficit during the Reagan administration is evidence of a different reality. A range of pluralist authors have critiqued Niskanen’s universalist approach. These scholars have argued that officials tend also to be motivated by considerations of the public interest.

Dunleavy’s bureau-shaping

The bureau-shaping model, a modification of Niskanen, holds that rational bureaucrats only maximize the part of their budget that they spend on their own agency’s operations or give to contractors and interest groups. Groups that are able to organize a “flowback” of benefits to senior officials would, according to this theory, receive increased budgetary attention. For instance, rational officials will get no benefit from paying out larger welfare checks to millions of low-income citizens because this does not serve a bureaucrats’ goals. Accordingly, one might should instead expect a jurisdiction to seek budget increases for defense and security purposes in place of domestic social programming. If we refer back to Reagan once again, Dunleavy’s bureau shaping model accounts for the alleged decrease in the “size” of government while spending did not, in fact, decrease. Domestic entitlement programming was financially de-emphasized for military research and personnel.


Antiquity to the 19th Century

Public administration in general is an extension of governance. Administrators have been necessary as long as kings and emperors required pages, treasurers, and architects to carry out the business of government. Modern American public administration is an extension of democratic governance, justified by classic and liberal philosophers of the western world such as Aristotle, John Locke[5], John Stuart Mill, Thomas Hobbes, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Thomas Paine[6], Samuel Adams [7] Thomas Jefferson[8], to name a few.[9]

Though rife with nepotism and favoritism, often referred to as a spoils system, public administrators have been the eyes and ears of government until relatively recently.[10] In medieval times, the abilities to read and write, add and subtract were as dominated by the educated elite as public employment. Nevertheless, public employment has become increasingly possible and probable for a wider range of adults with the help of greater literacy, better education to the average citizen, and classic liberal philosophers.

Consequently, the need for expert civil servants whose ability to read and write formed the basis for developing expertise in such necessary activities as legal records, military prowess, and tax administration, and record keeping. As the European imperialist age progressed and the militarily dominant region extended its hold over other continents and people, the need for increasingly conventional administrative expertise grew.

Eighteenth century noble, King Frederick William I of Prussia, created professorates in Cameralism in an effort to service this need. The universities of Frankfurt an der Oder and University of Hallewere Prussian institutions emphasizing economic and social disciplines, with the goal of societal reform. Johann Heinrich Gottlob Justi was the most well-known professor of Cameralism. Thus, from a Western European perspective, classic, medieval, and enlightened scholars formed the foundation of the discipline that has come to be called public administration.

Lorenz von Stein, an 1855 German professor from Vienna, is considered the founder of the science of public administration in many parts of the world. In the time of Von Stein, public administration was considered a form of administrative law, but Von Stein believed this concept too restrictive.

Von Stein taught:

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.”[11] Wilson was more influential to the science of public administration than Von Stein, primarily due to an article Wilson wrote in 1887 in which he advocated four concepts:

The separation of politics and administration has been the subject of lasting debate. The different perspectives regarding this dichotomy contribute to differentiating characteristics of the suggested generations of public administration.American Administration in the 1940s

The separation of politics and administration advocated by Wilson continues to play a significant role in public administration today. However, the dominance of this dichotomy was challenged by second generation scholars, beginning in the 1940s. Luther Gulick‘s fact-value dichotomy was a key contender for Wilson’s allegedly impractical politics-administration dichotomy. In place of Wilson’s first generation split, Gulick advocated a “seamless web of discretion and interaction”.[12]

Luther Gulick and Lyndall Urwick are two second-generation scholars. Gulick, Urwick, and the new generation of administrators built on the work of contemporary behavioral, administrative, and organizational scholars including Henri Fayol, Fredrick Winslow Taylor, Paul Appleby, Frank Goodnow, and Willam Willoughby. The new generation of organizational theories no longer relied upon logical assumptions and generalizations about human nature like classical and enlightened theorists.

Gulick developed a comprehensive, generic theory of organization that emphasized the scientific method, efficiency, professionalism, structural reform, and executive control. Gulick summarized the duties of administrators with an acronym; POSDCORB, which stands for planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting. Fayol developed a systematic, 14-point, treatment of private management. Second-generation theorists drew upon private management practices for administrative sciences. A single, generic management theory bleeding the borders between the private and the public sector was thought to be possible. With the general theory, the administrative theory could be focused on governmental organizations.

Post-World War II to the 1970s

The mid-1940s theorists challenged Wilson and Gulick. The politics-administration dichotomy remained the center of criticism in the third generation. In addition to this area of criticism, government itself came under fire as ineffective, inefficient, and largely a wasted effort. The sometimes deceptive, and expensive American intervention in Vietnam along with domestic scandals including Watergate are two examples of self-destructive government behavior during the third generation. There was a call by citizens for efficient administration to replace ineffective, wasteful bureaucracy. Public administration would have to distance itself from politics to answer this call and remain effective.

Elected officials supported such reform. The Hoover Commission, chaired by University of Chicago professor Louis Brownlow, to examine reorganization of government. Brownlow subsequently founded the public administration service on the university, 1313 E. 60th Street. The organization PAS provided consulting services to governments at all levels of government until the 1970s.

In the 1980s

In the late 1980s, yet another generation of public administration theorists began to displace the last. What was called New Public Management was proposed by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler [13] . The new model advocated the use of private sector innovation, resources, and organizational ideas to improve the public sector. During the Clinton Administration (1992-2000), Vice President Al Gore adopted and reformed federal agencies accordingly. New public management there by became prevalent throughout the US bureaucracy.

Some critics argue that the New Public Management concept of Americans as “customers” rather than “citizens” is an unacceptable abuse. That is, customers are a means to an end, profit, rather than part of the policy making process. Citizens are in fact the proprietors of government (the owners), opposed to merely the customers of a business (the patrons). In New Public Management, people are viewed as economic units not democratic participants. Nevertheless, the model is still widely accepted at all levels of government.