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Introduction to Public

Upul Abeyrathne,
Senior Lecturer,
Department of Economics,
University of Ruhuna,

To Introduce the academic discipline
of public administration
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

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
However, modern public
administration differs considerably
from the ancient and medieval form
of public administration

They were authoritarian, patriarchal and

elitist in character
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 undertaken
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
The officials had been hereditary.

The impacts on the

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 world.

The form of the public administration has

become that of a public bureaucracy
They are recruited on the basis of public
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

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 administration

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

5. Ensuring Growth and Economic

6. Protection of Weaker sections of society
7. Formation of Public Administration
8. Influencing Public Policies and Political

Meaning and Definition

Public administration is the
management of affairs at all level of

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. Marx,1964)
This definition highlights
Administration is concerned with
achivement of given purpose

It involves organization
Administration is getting thins done;
not doing.

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

1. Broader Perspective: Include all the

activities having for their purpose the
fulfillment of public policy.
2. Narrow Perspective: Only the activities
concerned with the executive branch
of government.

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

Narrow Perspective
They equate the public
administration with the functions and
activities of the executive only.
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 setting
B) covers all the three branchesexecutive, legislative and judicial
-and their interrelationships;
C) has an important role in the
formulation of public policy and is
thus a part of the political process,

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

Public administration operates in a
political setting
Managing the set objectives in public
policy in this political context is

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 government.

The What
Technical knowledge of a field which
enables an administrator to perform
his task (Subject matter)
There are four groupings of subject
1. What government doesdetermination 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