The Role of Administration in Government

There can hardly be any doubt that the role of civil servants in contemporary society is quite removed from the understanding of the role associated with the ideals upon which democratic institutions are built. Generally speaking, contemporary administrators play a much more independent role than the neutral, loyal and ‘implementing’ role of the bureaucrat that the electoral chain of command implies. Current expectations are that the administration plays a creative and inventive role in the political system.

Studies have also shown that the role of the civil servant is by no means a unified one. Civil servants instead occupy many parts in public administration and their role is thus much more complex and multi-faceted than described in the classic policy/administration dichotomy (Aberbach et al. 1981; Ehn 1998, 295). This situation is evident in the development of public institutions in both North America and Western Europe, but the development manifests itself differently depending upon historical and cultural differences in the public sector’s development in the individual national context.

(Poulsen, 2007) The dominant theme during much of the time in which Gulick wrote was that politics and policy considerations should be separated from administrative matters. Gulick’s own position was that it is impractical, impossible, and THE ROLE OF ADMINISTRATION IN GOVERNMENT 3 undesirable to make such strict separations. According to Gulick, administration involves the determination of major policy; the development and adoption of specific programs; the creation of the organization; provision of personnel; authorization of finances; administrative supervision Gulick attributes two meanings to the word politics.

In its vulgar sense, the word means seeking selfish advantage or advancement through the control of rulers, but its true sense points to the actions by which ruler’s control. The problem is that there in no objective way of distinguishing between vulgar and true politics, since the distinction lies in the motivation of the actor rather than in the action itself. Therefore, attempts to control the vulgar aspects of politics in administration run the danger of denying the true political function of administration. Efforts to keep politics in its vulgar sense out of administration have proven to be impractical.

Prohibition of political activity in a system of checks and balances, results in a virtually powerless government that “can’t go wrong because it can’t go at all. ” Efforts to eliminate politics from administration by setting up independent public agencies only frustrate efforts to establish an integrated government that is capable of planning. In sum, Gulick maintains that the old dichotomy between politics and administration has broken down, and he argues that a new doctrine should be developed that permits “the fullest possible use of the expert in an appropriate framework of political and professional responsibility.

(Fry, 2008) THE ROLE OF ADMINISTRATION IN GOVERNMENT 4 Public administrative culture is changing to be more flexible, innovative, problem solving, entrepreneurial, and enterprising as opposed to rule-bound, process oriented, and focused on inputs rather than results. The concept of ‘role’ needs to incorporate the notion of ambiguity, and a role analysis must incorporate conflict and change as essential concepts. This may be done through the linkage of some of the theoretical work on the notion of identity and identifications.

Within my theoretical work, I particularly have been interested in discourse theory. Before making this linkage, however, a clarification is needed. Often we see a tendency to mix up the concepts of ‘role’ and ‘identity’. Either everything is seen as roles or everything as identities or both at the same time. Confusion often results from the concept of ‘identity’ being used differently; so let me define my terms. First, we have a philosophical understanding of identity that is connected to the concept of ‘difference’ (Connolly 1991).

Second, we have an understanding of identity as something that is connected to a person’s perception of self. The two understandings are not contradictory, but they emphasise different THE ROLE OF ADMINISTRATION IN GOVERNMENT 5 aspects of the concept of identity. In the first understanding, identity means that ‘something’ is ascribed a certain meaning by being different from something that it is not. The identity – what it is – equals its difference from what it is not. This ‘something’ may be anything from persons to things to concepts (Connolly 1991, 64).

If we transfer this understanding of identity to roles, a role gets its identity or is ascribed meaning by being different from other roles. For example, the role of minister differs from the role of civil servant. In this sense, a role may be seen as an identity. However, I choose to keep the concept of role – as roles are an integrated part of any public institution – and then use the concept of identity to describe a person’s perception of self. Now let us return to the understanding of the concept of role within discourse theory and its linkage to the concept of identity.

The question of what American scholars know about government seems strange, since the answer cannot but be: a lot. All of the social sciences have in the course of the 20th century developed substantive interests that are, at least partially, relevant to understanding government Consequentially, what we know about government is fragmented across disciplines and thus we run the risk of not knowing what we actually know. Perhaps, one could say that we have something of an overview THE ROLE OF ADMINISTRATION IN GOVERNMENT 6

of government in the study of public administration,1 but what we know in the study is also quite dispersed across a range of specializations. In fact, the more central the role and position of government has become, the more our knowledge and understanding of it has become fragmented. Intra- and inter-disciplinary fragmentation or specialization. serves experts. While a generalist’s perspective is appreciated, it is the specialist’s perspective which dominates the study of public administration.

As far as American scholarship is concerned, efforts at connecting different specializations and bodies of knowledge are limited. We need better frameworks and meta-languages to encompass the specializations and we need comparison, juxtaposition and synthesis of different ways of looking at the same thing (Hood, 1990, pp. 119-120). In this article I explore barriers to developing coherence to the study. Observations in this paper mainly concern the state of the study of public administration in the United States of America, given its alleged identity crisis (Raadschelders, 1999)

Though the roles ascribed to these several actors indicate, in rough fashion, the relative degree of involvement in policy and political activity, Gulick concedes that the acts of all public officials are a “seamless web of discretion and action” and that discretion is likely to involve the official moves from the elected official to the technician. Nevertheless, not all policy matters are referred to the top, and, THE ROLE OF ADMINISTRATION IN GOVERNMENT 7 consequently, much discretion inevitably resides at the bottom, where “public servants touch the public.

” Moreover, any particular decision is political, not technical, if the public deems it to be such. A strong case can be made that the very nature of the U. S. system of government encourages fragmented policies. The separation of powers, checks and balances and federalism mean there is no one institution responsible for making policy. To illustrate, the federal government has a perspective on immigration reform much different from that of the governors of states mandated to provide services to a growing number of illegal immigrants. Interest groups with opposing points of view on an issue also come into the mix.

The lack of coordination among agencies responsible for implementing policy also contributes to fragmentation. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U. S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Coast Guard, as well as the local and state police, have responsibilities in preventing illegal drugs from entering the country. Not only do their jurisdictions overlap, but each is determined to protect its turf. Anyone who has seen how local law enforcement officers and the “feds” are portrayed on television police shows has an inkling of the problem.

The 9/11 Commission concluded that the lack of coordination and information sharing THE ROLE OF ADMINISTRATION IN GOVERNMENT 8 among intelligence and other federal agencies was a factor in the success of the 2001 terrorist attacks. The most obviously troubling situations found in an organization can usually be identified as symptoms of underlying problems. (See Table 1 for some examples of symptoms. ) These symptoms all indicate that something is wrong with an organization, but they don’t identify root causes.

A successful manager doesn’t just attack symptoms; he works to uncover the factors that cause these symptoms. |TABLE 1 | |Symptoms and Their Real Causes | | | | | |Symptoms | |Underlying Problem | | | |Low profits and/or declining sales | |Poor market research | | | |High costs | |Poor design process; poorly trained employees | | | |Low morale | |Lack of communication between management and subordinates | | | |High employee turnover | |Rate of pay too low; job design not suitable | | | |High rate of absenteeism | |Employees believe that they are not valued | | |

All managers want to make the best decisions. To do so, managers need to have the ideal resources — information, time, personnel, equipment, and supplies and identify any limiting factors. Realistically, managers operate in an environment that normally doesn’t provide ideal resources. For example, they may lack the proper budget or may not have the most accurate information or any extra time. THE ROLE OF ADMINISTRATION IN GOVERNMENT 9 So, they must choose to satisfy to make the best decision possible with the information, resources, and time available. Today’s business world is highly competitive.

The way for an organization to survive is by reshaping to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world. Resistance to change is a dead-end street for employees and for the organization. Leaders need to emphasize action to make the change as quickly and smoothly as possible. Organizations go through a four-stage life cycle. For some organizations, the four periods of growth come and go very rapidly; for others, that process may take decades. Failure to follow through with the needed changes in any of the four growth periods could mean the end for an organization.

Throughout these periods of change, which is just about all the time for a good organization, leaders must concentrate on having their people go from change avoidance to change acceptance. The five steps that accompany change—for individuals facing life-altering circumstances and for organizations facing fundamental shifts—are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. Often a worker’s first reaction to change is to resist it. An employee becomes comfortable performing tasks and processes a certain way.

These comfort levels provide employees with the security of knowing that they are the masters of work environment. Employees fear that change could disrupt their lives by making their jobs harder or causing them to lose their sense of control. THE ROLE OF ADMINISTRATION IN GOVERNMENT 10 We are entering a new era of public ethics where performance and morality will be accorded equal priority. We reject the notion of some Reinventionists that performance management alone will assure the proper level of public ethics.

However, we also reject the contention of Frederickson and others that public entrepreneurship is too dangerous from an ethical perspective and should be rejected as a viable public management strategy. REFERENCES Raadschelders, Jos C. N. Administrative Theory & Praxis (Administrative Theory & Praxis). Dec2005, Vol. 27 Issue 4, p603-627. 26p Denhardt, R. B. (2011). Theories of Public Organization (6th ed. ) Boston: Wadsworth. Denhardt, Robert B. , and Janet Vinzant Denhardt, (1999) Leadership for Change: Case Studies in American Local Government. Arlington, VA: Price Waterhouse Coopers Endowment for the Business of Government.

Denhardt, R. B. , & Denhardt, J. V. (2000). The new public service: Service rather than steering. Public Administration Review,(606): pp. 549-559. Fry, B. R. & Raadschelders, J. C. N. (2008). Mastering Public Administration: From Max Weber to Dwight Waldo. (2nd Ed. ). Washington, DC: CQ Press. Shafritz, J. M. and Hyde, J. M. (2012). Classics of Public Administration (7th ed). Boston: Wadsworth. http://www. ginandjar. com/public/III-NEW-PARADIGM OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION Paulson, Hank, (2010). On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System, New York: Business Plus.