Introduction to Public Administration Upul Abeyrathne, Senior Lecturer,

Introduction to Public
Upul Abeyrathne,
Senior Lecturer,
Department of Economics,
University of Ruhuna,
• To Introduce the academic discipline of public
• To distinguish between administration activity
and study of public administration
• To Examine the nature of public
Expected outcomes
• Capacity to demarcate between public
administrative activity and academic discipline
• Capacity to understand the complexity of
modern public administration
Administrative Activity
• As an activity, public administration is old as
the human civilization itself. The academic
discipline of public administration is just
hundred years old.
• However, modern public administration differs
considerably from the ancient and medieval
form of public administration
• They were authoritarian, patriarchal and elitist in
• Major concerns of the earlier public
administration have been the maintenance of law
and order, collection of revenue, while the
welfare has been purely incidental or optionally
• Administrators were small in numbers
• The administrators were selected at the
discretion of the monarch or ruler or king.
• They were just personal servants of the king
• The officials had been hereditary.
The impacts on the government
• Governmental problems have become all
• It touches our lives from cradle to grave. Some
times even before we are born and after we die
• This implies a multiplication of state functions
and these functions are highly specialized
• The former system of bureaucracy has become
inadequate and incompetent to deal with the
complex political and public problems of modern
• The form of the public administration has
become that of a public bureaucracy
• They are recruited on the basis of public law
• They perform within a legal framework
• The administration of the state has become more
and more public oriented.
Modern Public Administration includes
traditional role + New Functions
• Public Services like roads and transport
• The main instruments of socio-economic
• The relative decline of traditional social bonds
have to be substitute by the state
• Taking care of the weaker section of society,
husbandry and midwifery.
The Increasing complexity of public
problems enlarge the role of public
Gerald Caiden (1971) The Dynamics of
Public Administration: Guidelines to
current Transformation in Theory and
Practice , Rinehart and Winston, New
Delhi pp. 25
1. Preservation of the polity
2. Maintenance of stability and order
3. Institutionalization of socioeconomic change
4. Management of large-scale commercial services
5. Ensuring Growth and Economic Development
6. Protection of Weaker sections of society
7. Formation of Public Administration
8. Influencing Public Policies and Political Trends
Meaning and Definition
• Public administration is the management of
affairs at all level of government
• Public administration is wider field of
Sample Definitions
• Administration is determined action taken in
pursuit of a conscious purpose. It is the
systematic ordering of affairs and calculated use
of resources aimed at making those things
happen which one wants to happen (F. M.
• This definition highlights
• Administration is concerned with achivement of
given purpose
• It involves organization
• Economy
• Effectiveness
• Administration is getting thins done; not
• “Administration is the organization and
direction of human and material resources to
achieve desired ends” (J.M. Pfiffner,1960).
• 1. Cooperative effort
• 2. Pursuit of common objectives
Two Perspectives on the Scope and
Range of Activities
1. Broader Perspective: Include all the activities
having for their purpose the fulfillment of public
2. Narrow Perspective: Only the activities
concerned with the executive branch of
Broader Perspective
• “Public Administration is detailed and
systematic application of law’” (Woodrow
Wilson, 1887)
• “Public Administration consits of all those
operations having for their purpose the
fulfillment or enforcement of public policy as
declared by a competent authority” (L.D.
White, 1926)
Broader Perspective
• The above authors had equated the sphere of
activity with the implementation of law and
public policy
Narrow Perspective
• They equate the public administration with
the functions and activities of the executive
• Emphasizes the managerial aspects
• “ Administration consist of getting things
done by coordinating the efforts of the people
so that they can work together to accomplish
set tasks. (J.M. Pfiffner, 1960)
Specific Environment of Public
Administration makes different
from the general study of
• Public administration
• a) is a cooperative group efforts in a public
• B) covers all the three branches-executive,
legislative and judicial -and their
• C) has an important role in the formulation of
public policy and is thus a part of the political
• D) is more than and different in significant
ways from private administration
• E) As a field of study and practice has been
much influenced in recent years by the
human relations approach
• F). Is closely associated with numerous private
groups and individuals in providing services to
the community (Felix A Nigro, 1965. 12
• Covers both perspectives discussed above
• Public administration operates in a political
• Managing the set objectives in public policy in
this political context is specific.
Scope of the study
• At fullest range, public administration
embraces every era and activity under the
jurisdiction of public policy….. By established
usage, the term has come to signify primarily
the organization, personnel practices and
procedures essential to effective performance
of the civilian functions entrusted to the
executive branch of government (F.M. Marx,
1964. 5)
The what and the how
• Pfiffner identify that public administration is
concerned with what and how of the
The What
• Technical knowledge of a field which enables
an administrator to perform his task (Subject
• There are four groupings of subject matter
• 1. What government does- determination of
objectives, internal administrative policies and
plans and range of governmental business.
• 2. How a government organizes its staff, and
finances its work that is the structure of
government organizations
• 3. How administrators secure cooperation and
teamwork . Study of such problems as
administrative responsibility, leadership,
direction, coordination, delegation,
headquarters-field relationships, supervision
and public relations
• 4. How administration is held accountable?
This means study of internal control, and
control of administrative activities by the
legislature and the courts.
How of the administration
• Techniques of management
• POSDCoRB theory
• Thank You