Contemporary Public Administration
The field of Public Administration has been very active in recent times, and with changes role of government globally, Public Administration is currently engaged in some som searching. Today, some of the major theoretical concerns, apparently contradictory, are:
- Application of Public choice theory to Public Administration, posing Market vs. State debate as contending providers of public good.
- Decentralisation and democracy – enhancing participation at the work place and grass-root level empowerment.of the people.
- Thorough scrutiny of the Weberian theory of bureaucracy; rational bureaucracy’ being assailed as self-aggrandizing, priority-distorting and budget maximizing.
- Organisational pluralism, suggesting that let the consumers ‘choose’ and no more of ‘imposed’ organisation. As a consequence, suggestions are being offered for load shedding of Government, privatisation, decentralisation and people empowerment, encouragement of NGOs – in the voluntary sector. Organisational pluralism is manifesting itself in the advocacy of enhanced social capacity as against governmental capability. Administration is being treated as just one form of Governance. The concept of Governance’ opens up possibilities of Government through non-bureaucratic agencies (other than formal Government).
- “Performance Partnership” in the form of different levels coming together like Public-Private joint effort. And net working of Government, NGO’s Private Agencies is being pursued and suggested.
- Small Government in terms of down-sizing and grass-roots people’s efforts is yet another idea being broached now. In this context, decentralisation of Government and people’s efforts are being more and more advocated. Another kindred suggestion is the reconceptulisation of Government’s role: steering, policy-orientation, “enabling rather than doing”. Also, reexamination and assertion of “Public Interest” has led to a revival of interest in this core concept. Neo-institutionalism in the form of institutional capacity-building is being advocated, and institutional studies are having field day.
- Transparency of Governance and open-citizen-friendly administration via citizen’s charter are now being advocated. Also, the gender’ issue has been brought to the fore, arguing that public administration has virtually been male preserve. Alongside the discourse of bureaucratic rationality, there is need for the juxtaposition of the discourse of “domesticity” connoting feelings, emotions and human warmth. Also, e-governance – using computerised systems – for quick information processing and citizens’ assistance, is being advocated and installed.
Public Administration to-day is reflecting in large part the changing nature of practice of Governments especially in the developed world. The practices of traditional Public Administration have come under increasing attack-from neo-liberal economists, interest group theorists and rational choice scholars who have provided the intellectual ammunition for respective politicians determined to reduce the size and scope of the public sector. This is scarcely surprising since the theoretical changes have tended to emphasise the significant extent to which Public Administration is political and is part of the overall process of determining “who gets what”. Approaches to Public Administration are also embedded in wider conceptions of the State, the relationship between State ad market and of citizenship. Changes in the ideological climate are, therefore likely to impact upon Public Administration, and this is what is evident now.
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