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Rethinking Public Administration inthe 21st Century: Today’s Research andTomorrow’s AgendaBy Rumki BasuNew PerspectivesAs a young discipline whose history can be traced back to 1887,public administration has always drawn upon established andolder disciplines like political science, law, economics, history,psychology and sociology. In more recent decades its identity hasbeen further problematised by association with such subjects asmanagement, and business studies. As a practical activity, it hasoften been caught in a political crossfire – of having to work withcompeting ideologies and changing political regimes.Thesecleavages, as they bear upon public administration, have foundexpression in two areas of study – the role and character of thestate; and the nature of public bureaucracies.We will begin with a discussion about some of the wider issuesconcerning the role of the state, with particular reference topublic administration.What follows is an examination of thecharacter of bureaucracy, the nature of administration and theidea of the public servant as they evolved or were “constructed” inthe 20th century under different political regimes.This willinclude some of the engaging and perennial debates about thedirection in which the subject should proceed to grow. It will beargued that, while there is a vocational dimension, publicadministration, must, if it is to enjoy any disciplinary relevancetoday, re-establish its roots in the social sciences.Public Administration ReviewP a g e 1 23ISSN: 2249-3360, Vol. No. XVIII, 2017P.G. Department of Public Administration, Utkal University

Rethinking Public Administration inthe 21st Century: Today’s Research andTomorrow’s AgendaBy Rumki BasuThe boundaries between state and non-state institutions aremore loosely drawn and their relationships are more complexthan ever before.Over the last two decades this trend hasgathered momentum, featuring governance through markets,through communities and through associations.Anotherimportant debate revolves around the supposed “hollowing” outof the state due to its diminished capacity to govern. The 20thcentury state underwent many transitions (from the laissez faireto the totalitarian) with various shades in between; but in everypolitical system administrative capacity was the crucial variablein the performance of governments. Political will could transformadministrative performances and public sector outcomes.Thestate is a source of empowerment for the citizen, for example inupholding human rights administering welfare or in dispensingother entitlements.If we look at the new perspectives in administrative studies wewill notice 3 universal concerns:: Administrative coordination Administrative effectiveness Administrative accountabilityWe should attempt to locate the centrality of these issues eventoday in different public administrative contexts in both thedeveloped and the developing world. A keen diagnostic sense ofthe new twists that fresh problems present in every generation is2

Rethinking Public Administration inthe 21st Century: Today’s Research andTomorrow’s AgendaBy Rumki Basuthe key to recognizing the critical linkages between the past,present and the future.administrativeTo give an example, connectedness of the public, the private and the voluntarysectors and must incorporate new ways of making complexbureaucratic organizations more responsive to citizen needs.Politics/ Administration Dichotomy – The Standard omyisconventionallyacknowledged as one of the most important and enduringtheoretical constructs in public administration. Woodrow Wilson,who is universally acknowledged as the founder of the disciplineof Public Administration, argued that administration is a “field ofbusiness” and lies far removed from the strife torn world ofpolitics.Administrative questions, according to him are not“political” questions Although politics sets the last mandate foradministration, administrators should be apolitical and neutralin performing their tasks.Scholars in the field of lsonvacillates between the two poles of thought regarding the“separability” and “inseparability” of administration from politics.Wilson’s essay does not offer a blue print for a properunderstanding of the politico-administrative relationship but itdoes point towards critical and interesting research realms forfuture scholars to explore.The real importance of the politics3

Rethinking Public Administration inthe 21st Century: Today’s Research andTomorrow’s AgendaBy Rumki hitsnormativeIn other words, the proposed principle is thatelected officials have the legal right to make policy decisions, andit is the duty of career civil servants to carry out those policies ingood faith.The politics – administration dichotomy has since its inception,been a contested area of public administration.Democraticgovernments accord higher status to the elected politicians,whereas, in terms of the canons of democracy, the bureaucracymust be subject to the control of the ruling political party. governmental operations increasingly permit and even requireadministrators to become involved in making “political” decisions,specially in the regulation of the private sector. The fact is n“administration” and “politics”, especially at higher levels ofpublic governance.Administrators in the discharge of theiradministrative functions, have to exercise “discretion” and make“value” choices.In this rapidly changing modern world the important question toask is, how far this distinction should continue to be treated assacrosanct today when the governance reality is the continuing“interlocking” of politics and administration. Is complementaritya necessity?It is important to appreciate the role of publicadministration in the “old” governance model as a basis for4

Rethinking Public Administration inthe 21st Century: Today’s Research andTomorrow’s AgendaBy Rumki Basuunderstanding the relationship between public administratorsand a wider array of actors in the “new” governance gadequateadministrative capacity and ensuring that it is under firmdemocratic control exercised the minds of many cadministration in its formative years. At one end is the argumentthat “discretion” ought to be evaluated in the light of the need forautonomy efficiency and competence – in brief, the need forscientific and professional management. At the other end is theclaim that discretion ought to be contextualized in terms of dresponsiveness, in short, democratic control. The chapter revisitsthe standard narrative with new suggestions.New Public Management, Public Value and the New PublicServiceIn the history of public administration, the subject has faced twointellectual thrusts from time to time – the empirical and thenormative. The former emphasized on efforts to make the subjectan applied science and a body of teachable knowledge.Thenormative thrust pulled it in the direction of social sciences 5

Rethinking Public Administration inthe 21st Century: Today’s Research andTomorrow’s AgendaBy Rumki BasuAdministration for “whom”, “what” and “how” became the centralconcerns of theory.Contemporary public administration with an overemphasis on“market” and a relative de-emphasis of the state in the matter ofproduction and supply of public goods and services has beendescribed as “governance without government”.Within publicadministration, the most important reform movement since the1980’s has been the New Public Management (NPM).Itsymbolizes the transfer of market principles and managementtechniques from the private into the public sector symbiotic withand based on a neo-liberal understanding of state and theeconomy.It is popularly denoted by concepts such as flathierarchies, customer orientation, contracting out and marketbased governance.The public manager is the main driver ofchange and there is an increasing focus on public accountability.NPM has been a driving force for reform globally and has tippedthe balance between control and autonomy in favour ofautonomy features.However some of the structural changesrequired under NPM was both politically and administrativelydifficult, so the development has been from simple integration(old public administration) through complex, fragmented complexity concerning political control and autonomy.NPMchallenges the Weberian hierarchical model, in as much as itaccentuates results, but seems to be careless about how they are6

Rethinking Public Administration inthe 21st Century: Today’s Research andTomorrow’s AgendaBy Rumki Basuto be achieved. NPM follows the managerial way of doing things,and that means it puts process above hierarchy.At the sametime, the Weberian principles have shown unusual resilience.Predictability, accountability and legality derive from elementsthat form a part of the democratic governance paradigm A rangeof weaknesses have emerged following almost two decades erialistpublicA new discourse of public management hasemerged, which draws heavily on the work of Mark Moore.Itsignals a shift away from strong ideological positions of market,versus state provision. This is reflective of a growing recognitionthat public services have inherent social values which may not beadequately addressed by the economic efficiency calculus ofmarkets. Moore asserts that the task of a public sector manageris to create “public value”.As contrasted with NPM, a salient feature of the public valueparadigm is its emphasis on “collective preferences” whichdistinguish it from the “individualist” focus of the NPM Publicvalue creation relies on the politically mediated expression ofcollectively determined preferences which stand for what thecitizen determines as “valuable”.“publicvalue”remainsHowever a clear definition ofsomewhatelusiveandmanyareconcerned at the way Moore has sought to carve out anautonomous space for the public manager flouting the known7

Rethinking Public Administration inthe 21st Century: Today’s Research andTomorrow’s AgendaBy Rumki Basucanons of the politico-administrative equations required in aparliamentary system of governance.Against this background, Robert and Janet Denhardt suggest anew role of governance today in the operation of governanceprocesses.The government’s central role in establishing theoverall legal and political rules in society protecting economicinterests and standing guarantee to the maintenance of the basicdemocratic processes and upholding public interests is reemphasized.Government’s role is visualized in terms ofbrokering interests among citizens and other groups so as tocreate shared values. Robert and Janet Denhardt claimed thatthe New Public Service (NPS) should be called a movement builton work in democratic citizenship, community and civil society,organizational humanism and discourse theory. The NPS seemsoverly concerned with the role and behaviour of the civil servantin administration.The primary role of the civil servant isconceived not in terms of controlling and steering society but interms of helping the citizens to articulate and meet their sharedinterests.The civil servant is being exhorted to imbibe thecanons of a new democratic administration. The NPS marks ialisttrend in NPM thinking but also to offer animportant and viable alternative to both the traditional and thecurrently dominant managerialist models.8

Rethinking Public Administration inthe 21st Century: Today’s Research andTomorrow’s AgendaBy Rumki BasuPublic administration theory in its over a hundred year history,has been building on ground realities and real life administrativesituations. Theory without the ability to predict and understandthe questions that most need answering, is not worth doing,theory relevant to 21st century age and times will be inevitablylively and relevant.The key to theoretical advances in thediscipline of public administration is to keep one foot in the socialsciences and the other in the ground realities and administrativepractices of the age.The Public and its PoliciesPolicy formulation and execution is the main task of the executivearm of the government.Public policies are those which aredeveloped by governmental bodies and officials, though nongovernmental actors and agencies may also exert direct orindirect pressure or influence in the policy making process.Public policy is based on “law” and “authoritative” sanctions.However policy making is mostly a matter of “persuasion” and nopolicy can be successful unless policy makers carry people withthem. That is commonly experienced in liberal democracies buteven in authoritarian political systems where there are limits tocoercive power.Not only is the practice of public policyimplementation largely a matter of persuasion but “policysciences” itself is a loosely organized body of precepts andapproaches rather than a tightly integrated body of systematicknowledge, more art and craft than genuine “science”.Policy9

Rethinking Public Administration inthe 21st Century: Today’s Research andTomorrow’s AgendaBy Rumki Basustudies is distinguished by an action orientation.They areorganized around questions of what we as a political communityshould do, rather than questions of what it should be. Policiesare debated in many diverse institutional settings. Each operatesaccording to a different set of rules, with a different agenda, andon different timelines, each responds to different set of pressuresandurgencies,eachprofessional ethos.hasitsownnorms,languageandPlace, site and moment often obstruct the“persuasive” practice of the vocation of policy studies. Besidespowerful structural and institutional forces pull policy makers ina particular direction which are often revealed in accounts ofnetworked ldeditsownbeginning with the famous distinction between “policy” and“administration”.Policy makers aspire to “make policy” in ageneral rule setting way, envisioning administrators applyingthosegeneralrulesdiscretionary fashion.toparticularcasesinaminimallyOne aspect of this is the aspiration, orrather illusion of total central control. All the great managementtools of the last century were marshaled in support of thatproject: linear programming, operations research, cost benefitanalysis, management by objectives etc. It was soon discoveredover the next hundred years that there is never any single, stablecentral authority that can be in complete control. It is a hardfact of political life that the notional “center” is always occupied10

Rethinking Public Administration inthe 21st Century: Today’s Research andTomorrow’s AgendaBy Rumki Basuby many competing authorities.Every bureaucrat whether onthe street or in some branch office knows the difference erabandoning“planning” will not solve problems. Creating “managed markets”intheestablishedcapitalistdemocraciesor “marketizing”economies of socialist countries don’t always lead to desiredoutcomes. Fully “rational” policy making can never be achieved.At best, we “satisfice” – set some standard of what is “goodenough” and connect ourselves with reaching that goal.Politics and policy are both at the end of the day about “who getswhat, when, how?” The story of policy is in part a story aboutconstraints and also a story about change. Policies get made inresponse to problems. Policies change for all sorts of reasons.The problems change, the environments change, technologieschange, alliances change, staff change and interests change aswell.Policy may be viewed either as a dependent or an icalandenvironmental factors that help determine the content of policy.For example, how do the distribution of power among pressuregroups and governmental agencies affect the policy outcome, orhow do urbanization and national income help shape the contentof policy? If public policy is viewed as an independent variable,the focus shifts to the impact of policy on the political system andthe environment.Then the question arises as to what effect11

Rethinking Public Administration inthe 21st Century: Today’s Research andTomorrow’s AgendaBy Rumki Basupolicy has on social welfare? How does it influence future policychoices or mobilize support for the political system?Secondly, factual knowledge about the policy making process andits outcome are a prerequisite for prescribing on and dealing withsocietal problems normatively.Many public administrationtheorists believe that the study of public policy should be directedtowards ensuring that governments adopt appropriate policies toattain certain desirable social goals. They reject the notion thatpolicy analysts should strive to be “value free” contending thatpublic administration cannot remain politically neutral or silenton vital contemporary social, economic or political problems.They want to improve the quality of public policy in ways theydeemdesirable, notwithstanding thedisagreementmayexistinsocietyfact that substantialoverwhatconstitutes“desirable” or the “appropriate” goals of policy. The chapter willexamine all these problematic issues and their implications onpolicy choices in states.Democracy, The State and the tiontakescognizance of the fact that the roots of public administration liein the primacy of “public interest” and the placing of thebureaucratic apparatus under the control of democraticallyelected leaders.Many procedural requirements as “openinformation”, “accountability” and “public participation” are12

Rethinking Public Administration inthe 21st Century: Today’s Research andTomorrow’s AgendaBy Rumki Basudeliberately added to the policy making and implementationprocess, all under the scrutiny of a fairly independent media.Second, democratization introduces mechanisms that serve aschecks and balances in the ruling political regime in order toensure the horizontal accountability of administrative organs.This includes certain basic mechanisms of accountability such aslegislative committees, parliamentary debate, public hearings,ministerial control, ombudsman and media publicity.Thecontemporary NPM induced changes in governance customerorientation) – have had critical implications for democracy andthe citizen.Democracy has come to mean governmental accountability interms of delivering goods and services, addressing public ion,ascertaining citizen entitlements and guaranteeing equality andjustice.Thus under the current mode of governance thestandards of public accountability have become instrumental innature, specially in terms of an overemphasis on proceduraleconomic criteria (e.g. efficiency and productivity) rather thansubstantive public concerns (e.g. equality and representation).With post NPM developments in theory, like the concept of NewPublic Service there is renewed focus on the people and thecitizen in the role of “engaged” governance.13

Rethinking Public Administration inthe 21st Century: Today’s Research andTomorrow’s AgendaBy Rumki BasuIn a democracy, citizen administration nexus is axiomatic.Inreality, governments have become “big”, creating a hiatusbetween citizens and administration. These developments havenot been healthy for a democracy. Citizens have be

By Rumki Basu 4 administration dichotomy has to do with its normative implications. In other words, the proposed principle is that elected officials have the legal right to make policy decisions, and it is the duty of career civil servants to carry out those policies in good faith. The politics – administration dichotomy has since its inception, been a contested area of public administration .