Public administration theory

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Public administration theory is the amalgamation of history, organizational theory, social theory, political theory and related studies focused on the meanings, structures and functions of public service in all its forms.

A standard course of study in PhD dedicated to public administration, public administration theory often recounts major historical foundations for the study of bureaucracy as well as epistemological issues associated with public service as a profession and as an academic field.

Important figures of study include: Max Weber, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Luther Gulick, Mary Parker Follett, Chester Barnard, Herbert A. Simon, and Dwight Waldo. Herbert Simon advanced a public administration theory that was informed by positivism. The influence of positivism today can be seen in journals such as the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory and the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.[1] In more recent times, the field has had three main branches: new public management, classic public administration and postmodern public administration theory. The last grouping is often viewed as manifest in the Public Administration Theory Network (PAT-NET) and its publication, Administrative Theory & Praxis.

Classical Public Administration Theory[edit]

Classical Public Administration is one of the three main branches of public administration theory. This branch includes notable theorist such as Woodrow Wilson and Max Weber, whom contributed notable works to public administration. In the United States of America, Woodrow Wilson is known as 'The Father of Public Administration' , writing the "The Study of Administration" in 1887. In this work, Wilson advocated that a bureaucracy should be ran like a business, promoting ideas like a merit based promotions, and a nonpartisan system. [2]

Selected works in the history of public administration theory[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Whetsell, Travis and Patricia M. Shields (forthcoming) "The Dynamics of Positivism in the Study of Public Administration: A Brief Intellectual History and Reappraisal, Administration & Society. (doi:10.1177/0095399713490157) Also see Simon, Herbert. 1947 Administrative Behavior
  2. ^ McCandless, Sean A. (September 2013). "One More Time". Administrative Theory & Praxis. doi:10.2753/ATP1084-1806350302. Retrieved September 25, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Shafritz, Jay M.; Hyde, Albert C., eds. (2011). Classics of Public Administration (7th ed.). Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. ISBN 9781111342746. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Sherwood, Frank P. (1990). "The Half-Century's 'Great Books' in Public Administration". Public Administration Review 50 (2): 249–264. doi:10.2307/976872. 
  5. ^ Straussman, Jeffrey D. (1985). "V. O. Key's "The Lack of a Budgetary Theory": Where Are We Now?". International Journal of Public Administration 7 (4): 345–374. doi:10.1080/01900698508524496. 
  6. ^ Stivers, Camilla (2009). "Postcards from the Past: Messages from TVA and the Grassroots". Public Administration Review 69 (6): 1196–1199. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6210.2009.02081.x. 
  7. ^ Tipple, Terence J.; Wellman, J. Douglas (1991). "Herbert Kaufman's Forest Ranger Thirty Years Later: From Simplicity and Homogeneity to Complexity and Diversity". Public Administration Review 51 (5): 421–428. doi:10.2307/976411. 
  8. ^ Spears, Larry C., ed. (1995). Reflections on Leadership: How Robert K. Greenleaf's Theory of Servant-Leadership Influenced Today's Top Management Thinkers. New York: J. Wiley. ISBN 0471036862. 
  9. ^ Rowe, Mike (2012). "Going Back to the Street: Revisiting Lipsky's Street-Level Bureaucracy". Teaching Public Administration. doi:10.1177/0144739411435439. 

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