Introduction to Public Administration

Introduction to Public Administration
Unit Four
Paradigms of Public Administration
Learning objectives
Students studying this unit should be able to:
1. Describe the early development of public administration in the United States.
2. Distinguish between each of the five major public administration theory paradigms.
3. Discuss how the paradigms changed the practice of public administration.
4. Explain views on the future of public administration in the 21st Century.
Public administration in the United States is an evolving field. The nature of the
administrative state changed as the nation matured and grew in both physical size and
population. The intellectual history of the field is usually divided into five periods or paradigms
beginning in the 1880’s with the publication of a paper by Woodrow Wilson. But there is a
history predating that paper. Knowing the intellectual history of the field helps to place the
present state of the field within an historical context. The founding of the nation and its fragile
beginnings, through the Civil War, the industrial revolution, increasing population and
urbanization, and two World Wars have all shaped the development of public administration.
The development of technology and the information age are further influencing the development
of the field. What will public administration look like into the 21st Century?
Pre-1800’s: The Early Years
The Constitution written by the founders presented the basic framework for running the
government; however, as with any new system, the initial implementation was rarely without
Introduction to Public Administration
challenges. Often change was needed in response to issues that arose over time. The early years
of public administration is a story of firsts: the first President, the first Congress, the first
executive cabinet, the first laws, and the first regulations.
As a basic framework, it was not a complete model for the new government. Many of the
details were left to the first generation of leaders, and they were acutely aware of that
responsibility. This also meant that early experiences and challenges would play an important
role in the development of public administration.
One example of the challenges our government faced was the Whiskey Rebellion in
Pennsylvania and Ohio, during 1791 to 1794, that was an internal test of the Federal
government’s ability to enforce law and maintain unity. Another challenge was the War of 1812
with the British, which firmly established the United States as a nation capable of defending
itself from outside aggressors. These first challenges tested the
new government’s ability to respond to and protect the new
nation from both internal and external threats.
George Washington, serving as the nation’s first
President, faced several challenges in particular by being the first
to occupy the office. He had to learn how to be President while
developing a “presidential” leadership style and defining the inner
workings of the Presidency. He also needed to collect information
on public opinion and manage the new executive cabinet.
President Washington understood the fragile nature of the
new nation (Cook and Klay 2015). This understanding appears in
Figure 5: George Washington by Adolph
Ulrik Wertmuller. The original is located
at Metropolitan Museums of Art, Public
Introduction to Public Administration
how some of his contemporaries described his style as being thoughtful and deliberate. As a
decision maker, he sought information from many sources before arriving at final decisions. This
deliberateness attested to his awareness of the importance of his being first to serve as president
and consequently setting precedents for future administrations to follow. Among these
precedents, he focused on developing a professional public administration valuing education and
expertise and committed to defining public administration in terms of its being a trust between
the government and those it represented. In his farewell address, Washington reminded the
nation about the importance of focusing on common shared values rather than on the differences
that were sure to emerge as the nation grew and matured.
Frederick Mosher describes these early years of public administration as “government by
gentlemen” (Ingraham 1995, 17). Government during the first 40 years of the nation’s history
was dominated by landed gentlemen. The right to vote and a prerequisite to government service
rested on holding a certain station in society. The vote was limited to landing-holding men, and
from that group emerged the first public servants.
Following the election of Andrew Jackson as
President in 1828, the “Spoils Era” (Ingraham 1995, 20)
begins. Spoils refers to the practice of giving government
jobs as rewards for supporting political candidates. The
political process and access to government jobs was extended
to the “common” men of the nation.
Reform of the spoils system began after a disgruntled
political supporter assassinated President James Garfield.
Figure 6 Andrew Jackson by Alexander Hay
Ritchie, United States Library of Congress’s
Prints and Photographs, digital ID
Introduction to Public Administration
Congress passed, and President Chester A. Arthur, signed the Pendleton Act of 1883 creating the
merit system of civil service.
The end of the nation’s first 100 years also saw an increase in government regulation.
The Sherman Antitrust Act was passed in 1890, beginning a new period of government
regulating businesses to protect the public against behaviors of business labelled as anticompetitive (Vogel 2017).
1887 to 1926: Brightline between Politics and Administration
Scholars and researchers often view the Reform Movement that began in the 1880’s as
the birth of the study of public administration as an academic discipline. For example, in 1887,
Woodrow Wilson published “The Study of Administration” (Wilson 1887); also, academic Frank
J. Goodnow published his book Politics and Administration (2005) in 1900. Both men shared
similar ideas about how to reform public administration.
Woodrow Wilson (1887) extended the idea of reform
beyond civil service to all administrative functions. He did
not believe that the Constitution dictated administration. He
instead equated public administration with the field of
business. He also distinguished between the academic fields
of political science and public administration. He saw politics
as the process of establishing law and policy and
administration as the execution of the law and policy. In
executing law and policy, administration must consider public
opinion. Administration extends to all levels of government
and has administrative principles that are transferable.
Figure 7 Woodrow Wilson by Pach Brothers,
New York. This image is available from the
United States Library of Congress’s Prints and
Photographs under digital ID cph.3a04218
Introduction to Public Administration
Frank J. Goodnow (1900), on the other hand, saw a merit-based administration as not
incompatible with a democracy because democracy defines the political system rather than the
administration. Administration is a science to be learned and practiced by trained professionals
who should take on the role of executing policies in an effective and efficient manner. Both
Goodnow and Wilson write of the “will of the state.” Politics is about establishing the “will of
the state,” and administration is about carrying out that will.
1927 to 1937: Developing Administrative Principles
The industrial revolution; rise of the corporation as a dominant form of business; and
increasing numbers of social, economic, and political problems led to an increased importance in
the effective management and organizational leadership.
Three key individuals associated with the birth of classical management theory are Max
Weber, Frederick Taylor, and Henri Fayol. Frederick W. Taylor gave testimony to Congress on
January 25, 1912 on the science of management. In his testimony, he describes four basic
principles: the study of the work to done, the selection of workers, the merger of selected
workers and the science of the work to be done, and the equitable division of labor between
workers and management. Taylor’s scientific principles complemented the idea put forth by
reformers of public administration as a science.
Administrative reforms extended to the state and local levels of government, as well. For
example, in The Movement of Budgetary Reform in the United States, William F. Willoughby
wrote about the use of the budget as a mechanism linking politics and administration
(Willoughby 1918). Also, new forms of local government appeared that incorporated a
professional manager or administrator over the business affairs of local government (Burns
Introduction to Public Administration
In 1937, Luther Gulick published “Notes on the Theory of Organization” addressing
principles for managing organizations (L. Gulick 1937). That same year, he and Lyndall Urwick
also published Papers on the Science of Administration introducing the mnemonic POSDCORB
(short for planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting) into
the study of management (Gulick and Urwick 1937). These seven activities were identified as
the core set of functions performed by management in an organization.
Gulick also worked with Louis Brownlow and
Charles Merriam to produce the Report of the
President’s Committee on Administrative
Management in 1937 (Shafritz, Hyde and Parkes
2004, 99). President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed
the committee to study and suggest reorganization of
the executive branch as a result of the increase in the
number of agencies created during the 1930’s New
Deal, as referred to above.
1938 to 1947: Challenging the Existing Paradigms
The more mechanistic view of management and administration that emerged with the
development of public administration as a science, the scientific method, and classical
management theory was challenged by the Human Relations Theory. Key contributions to this
school of thought include Elton Mayo’s studies at a Western Electric plant from 1924 to 1932
that demonstrated the importance communication between management and employees; Herbert
Simon’s work on decision-making; Chester Barnard’s writings on informal and formal
Figure 8 Not credited. Image available from the
United States Library of Congress’s Prints and
Photographs under the digital ID cph.3a13587
Introduction to Public Administration
organizations (Shafritz, Hyde and Parkes 2004, 104); Abraham Maslow’s writings on motivation
theory; and Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y.
The Human Relations Theory focused on interactions between people in the work
environment. The focus shifted from tasks and activities toward trying to understand why people
behave as they do and what factors influence or drive people. The chief contribution of human
relations theory was to focus more on the behavioral aspects of management over the more
technical approach to studying it.
1948 to 1970: Struggle for an Identity
Early signs of a struggle for an identity of public administration showed up as early as 1945
with Paul Appleby’s book Big Democracy. Appleby identifies three complementary aspects that
differentiate government from other organizations:
• Breadth of scope, impact, and consideration
• Public accountability
• Political character
Questions about orthodoxy and the politics/administration dichotomy were addressed by
Dwight Waldo in The Administrative State published in 1948. Waldo speculates about whether
the orthodox theory of public administration will remain the dominant theory or if something
new might come in the future to challenge it.
Waldo sought to advance a discussion about the future of public administration when, in
1968 after joining the faculty at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, he hosted a meeting of
young public administration scholars known as Minnowbrook, so named after its location in
Introduction to Public Administration
upstate New York. The conference has been held every 20 years since 1968 to advance the
discussion of public administration.
1971 to Present: Breakthroughs
New Public Administration (NPA)
The Minnowbrook Conference brought young scholars in public administration together
at one location to talk about the discipline. The result was fresh new thoughts on the field,
including many that challenged the foundational principles of the orthodoxy in place since the
early twentieth century. A new framework was coined, “New Public Administration.”
H. George Frederickson (1971) wrote about the New Public Administration framework
that emerged out of Minnowbrook (Shafritz, Hyde and Parkes 2004, 315). The orthodox view of
public administration was about being effective at providing services to the public in the most
efficient and economical fashion, as stated above. The focus was on the institutions rather than
on the people. The Human Relations theorists turned attention to the relationship between
managers and workers but focused on how to make better decisions. New Public Administration
shifted the focus to achieving social equity through change.
The New Public Administration (New PA) rebutted the idea of a division between
politics and administration. Instead, New PA reasoned that policy was inherently a part of
administration. It saw administrators not as neutral implementers of law but rather as active
participants of changing policy to ensure that it protected the interests of the most vulnerable.
Frederickson used the example of the Department of Agriculture. The focus of the agency is on
farmers, but farm workers and consumers might be harmed by some of the policies implemented.
According to Frederickson, the job of administrators, therefore, is to implement laws in such a
way that they protect other less-powerful groups from being harmed by the policy. This new
Introduction to Public Administration
school of thought represented a radical shift in the perceived role of the administrator and
rejected the idea that some bright line existed between politics and administration.
It was not long after New PA arrived on the scene that an opposing or alternate view of
public administration surfaced. Calls to adopt New Public Management began appearing in the
1980’s. The election of Ronald Reagan as President ushered in a period of hostility toward
government. Government was viewed as an overbearing landlord extracting rents from citizens
and businesses and living high on the hog. Government was deemed inefficient and incapable of
delivering services efficiently and effectively. Policy makers and administrators were not thought
of as being focused on the economical use of resources. Instead, government was thought of as
wasteful and out of touch with the people it served.
New Public Management (NPM)
New Public Management (NPM), probably best exemplified in the writings of Osborne
and Gaebler during the 1990s, focused on making government operate more like a business
(Osborne and Gaebler 1992). This unit’s author would argue that the rise of NPM was a reaction
to the focus on social equity by New PA. This period also marks the beginning of troubles in the
U.S. over civil discourse and cooperation among people in finding solutions to problems. Issues
were being seen in increasingly black and white terms, with very few gray areas, thus leading to
harsh debates and conflict that began to take on a winner-take-all mentality that has only become
more prominent in our current political, economic, and social discourse.
NPM’s key themes include control, value, and efficiency. Social equity has little room in
a framework focused almost exclusively on measuring and proving the value of every dollar
raised and spent at all levels of government. Managing using performance measures thus became
a dominant practice in government. If programs and activities could not be justified through
Introduction to Public Administration
documented and measurable performance measures, then maybe it should not be done. NPM
resulted in an increased focus on privatizing government programs and activities. It was argued
that the private sector would do a better job at efficiently and economically delivering services to
the public. NPM introduced terms like entrepreneurial and innovative into the vocabulary of
public administration.
21st Century and Beyond: New Directions?
This unit’s author is hard pressed to explain to students and scholars what comes after
NPM. The discipline seems to be in a post-NPM period. Where we go from here is still open to
discussion and debate. A few observations might help to focus the discussion on what is next. In
particular, the effects of advancing technology should be considered. For example, technology is
making the world smaller, speeds up processes, replaces the legacy manual paper-based
processes with new cloud-based systems, increases the need for advanced technical training of
administrators, and increases the focus on security.
Clearly, the advances of technology is changing our lives in very fundamental ways. All
our data is stored in places we can neither see nor visit. We access our data, and we initiate and
process transactions from our desks on computers. We are connected to the world from the
comfort of our couch, bed, or office chair. We have access to information sooner than we did in
the past. Such access is changing to live, instantaneous updates. Artificial intelligence (AI) is
aiding us in making decisions. AI is going to become an extension of our own minds. When we
need an answer to a question, we will be able to ask our phone, tablet, or computer, or maybe
even just think out loud in our office or home and quickly receive an answer. Technology has
both a bright and dark side to it. It connects us and frees us from physical locations but leaves us
at risk because access is harder to control.
Introduction to Public Administration
Data is exposed to potential theft or even manipulation. Our software and data are accessible
by outsiders set on penetrating our elaborate protections and are often successful in these
nefarious activities. Private and public organizations are dealing with hostage situations.
Outsiders steal data, take control of hardware, or capture internal applications (such as email
systems) and demand payment for their return or release. Identity theft is on the rise. Few people
in the modern world—excluding those areas still untouched by technology—are not at risk.
Electronic business-to-business and business-to-customer processes are replacing face-to-face
transactions. All of this exposes us to risks that leave those responsible and accountable for data
security restless and often sleepless at night.
It is doubtful any of the past paradigms have prepared us adequately for the new challenges
and threats we face presently and will face in the future. We have entered a new information or
digital age. Life moves fast, and administrators must be able to keep up with it. That will be a
challenge faced by all future administrators. At a minimum, the field of public administration
must be able to keep pace with the changes in society. Ideally, public administration needs to be
in front of the change curve, thinking ahead rather than reacting and trying to catch up. The key
word for public administration going forward is governance. Attention is shifting from
organizations and institutions toward processes, technology, and people. Students reading this
textbook may be those future scholars who will be challenged to seek a new paradigm that
appropriately addresses the new context in which we live and work. That is the challenge.
This textbook introduces many students to what is likely their first course in public
administration. The authors hope that, after completing their study of the material in this text
(from beginning to end), students will have a new appreciation for the role of the public
Introduction to Public Administration
administrator in our modern society. Students should keep their minds open to all the knowledge
to which they will be exposed during their studies. No subject is wasted. Every course on every
subject is relevant to helping students think more clearly, think more strategically, and become
more critical and discriminating in their choice of options. Observing and processing information
quickly will be critical, as will avoiding major missteps.
This section took a journey through time. It began with the founding of a new nation,
through its adolescence, into adulthood. Now, as a full-grown adult nation, it is faced with
challenging situations, dangerous threats, and limitless opportunities. One thing this author
would argue has not changed over time is the requirement that administrators be professional,
which means being well rounded, thoughtful, deliberate, and decision-makers. The politicsadministration dichotomy is clean and neat. Unfortunately, life is not clean and neat. Politics is a
part of administration as much as administration is a part of politics. Think of it as a Reece’s
Peanut Butter Cup; you can’t have one unless you have both the chocolate and the peanut butter
Introduction to Public Administration
Additional Learning Resources
A. Read more about the Whiskey Rebellion at:
B. Read more about the War of 1812 at:
C. Video on President George Washington’s cabinet:
D. Additional reading about George Washington are available at :
E. Additional reading about Woodrow Wilson are available at:
F. The full text of Frank Goodnow’s Politics and Administration: A Study in Government
(1900) is available at: Google Books under Politics and Administration: A Study in
Government. (1900). United Kingdom: Macmillan.
G. Video on the Spoils System:
H. Reading: Pendelton Act of 1883 –
I. A brief video clip on the history of antitrust laws in the U.S. may be viewed at:

YouTube video

J. The following video explains the Classical Theories of Management: (Organizational Communication Channel 2017)
K. Frederick Taylor’s testimony: Google Books Free E-book – Frederick Taylor Testimony
L. Teaching American History – Brownlow Report
M. Video clip on Mayo’s Hawthorne Studies (AT&T Archive Video on Hawthorne Studies)
(AT&T 1973)
Introduction to Public Administration
N. Video clip about Chester Barnard ( (Barnard 2016)
O. Video clip on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (
(Organizational Communication Channel 2016)
P. Video clip on McGregor’s Theory X and Y (
(Organizational Communication Channel 2016)
Q. A short article on Dwight Waldo from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School
( (Lowery 2001)
Introduction to Public Administration
ACCG. Advancing Georgia Counties. 2019. (accessed October 29, 2019).
AT&T. “The Year They Discovered People (Hawthorne Effect).” AT&T Archive, 1973.
Barnard, Dr. Alan. “Herbert Simon – Why decision making is so difficult.” YouTube, July 4, 2016.
Burns, Nancy. The Formation of American Local Governments: Private Values in Public Institutions. New
York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Cook, Sam A, and William Earle Klay. “George Washington’s Precedents: The Institutional Legacy of the
American Republic’s Founding Public Administrator.” Administration and Society 47, no. 1
(2015): 75-95.
Cooke, Charles. Biography of an Ideal: The Diamond Anniversary History of the Federal Civil Service.
Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1959.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon. “Washington’s Presidential Cabinet.” YouTube, January 6, 2016.
George Washington’s Mount Verson. Cabinet Members. 2019. (accessed October 29, 2019).
GMA. Georgi Cities United. 2019. (accessed October 29, 2019).
Goodnow, Frank J. Politics and Administration. Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2005.
Gulick, Luther H, and Lyndall F Urwick. Papers on the Science of Administration. AM Kelly, 1937.
Gulick, Luther. Notes on the Theory of Organization. New York, NY: Columbia University, Institute of
Public Administration, 1937.
History Channel US Immigration Timeline. May 14, 2019. (accessed
October 29, 2019).
Hughes, Hip. “The Spoils System Explained: US History Review.” YouTube, May 8, 2014.
Ingraham, Patricia Wallace. The Foundation of Merit: Public Service in American Democracy. Baltimore,
MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.
Lowery, George. From Maxwell Perspective: Putting the Purpose in P.A. 2001. (accessed October 29, 2019).
NACo. National Association of Counties. 2019. (accessed October 29, 2019).
National Park Service. Learn History and Culture: Whiskey Rebellion. 2019. (accessed October 2019,
Introduction to Public Administration
—. Unfinished Revolution: War of 1812. 2019. (accessed October 29,
NLC. National League of Cities. 2019. (accessed October 29, 2019).
Organizational Communication Channel. “Classical Management Theory.” YouTube, October 23, 2017.
—. “Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y.” YouTube, September 9, 2016.
—. “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in the Workplace.” YouTube, September 12, 2016.
Osborne, David, and Ted Gaebler. Reinventing Government: How the Entreprenuerial Spirit is
Transforming the Public Sector From School House to Statehouse, to City Hall to the Pentagon.
Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1992.
Schuyler, Michael. Fiscal Fact No. 415: A Short History of Government Taxing and Spending in the United
States. Washington, D.C.: Tax Foundation, 2014.
Service, United States Postal. Significant Years in U.S. Postal History. 2006. (accessed October 2019, 2019).
Shafritz, Jay M, Albert C Hyde, and Sandra J Parkes. Classics of Public Administration. Belmont, CA:
Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2004.
Shafritz, Jay. The Dictionary of Public Policy and Administration. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2004.
U.S. Constitutional Topic: The Cabinet. October 22, 2010. (accessed October 29, 2019).
US Department of Justice. About DOJ. 2019. (accessed October 29,
US Department of the Interior. History of the Department of the Interior. 2019. (accessed October 29, 2019).
USA.GOV. U.S. History and Historical Documents. 2019. (accessed October 29,
Vogel, Anita. “The Evolution of America’s Antitrust Laws.” Fox News. YouTube, December 6, 2017.
Willoughby, William F. The Movement for Budgetary Reform in the States. New York, NY: D. Appleton
and Company, 1918.
Wilson, Woodrow. “The Study of Administration.” Political Science Quarterly 2, no. 2 (1887): 197-222. Pendelton Act (1883). 2019. (accessed October 29, 2019).

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Introduction to Public Administration
Just from $13/Page
Order Essay
Still stressed from student homework?
Get quality assistance from academic writers!
error: Content is protected !!
Open chat
Need assignment help? You can contact our live agent via WhatsApp using +1 718 717 2861

Feel free to ask questions, clarifications, or discounts available when placing an order.

Order your essay today and save 30% with the discount code LOVE