6 Foundations of Public Administration

Public administration is founded on six assumptions. Bit by bit, they have come from the research and work of many social scientists and of course, public agencies. Despite this, some have questioned about their true existence. And those who see them work know that these assumptions are not set in stone. Majority of the public administration materials are actually focused on either renovating or eliminating them because of their weaknesses. No matter what the objection is, these assumptions do get the job done and thus, have turned into a worldwide craze. It would be pretty difficult to find any government completely free of them. Because of this and more, they must be understood thoroughly.

1. Purpose/Instrumental rationality: Max Weber was one of the theorists to first explain it. The work of instrumental rationality is to emphasize the result a specific available or a concept based effort can produce. It ignores the fundamental question of the real world aftermath forming from the use of that effort. Scientific method, experts and power flowing from top to bottom are all expressions of this rationality.
Weakness: It has a tendency to leave the lower level public servants in the dilemma of ethics, for not every instruction can be converted into words flowing from top to bottom.

2. Efficiency: This means that any program to be approved and started must show result and adhere to the common ideology of the country. Anything that does not work must be eliminated. In short, the depiction of performance measurement is very important.
Weakness: Performance measurement has always been an issue. There is no way to measure every work of the government. For instance, certain environment programs can take years to show signs of result. Hence, the idea of efficiency for them is blurry.

3. Professionalism: This refers to all the factors that the public employees must abide by while doing their work.Values are the examples of this. For instance, to prevent fraud and biases, the government has rules promoting transparency and fairness. Anyone failing to abide by them can be penalized. Professionalism also takes into account the knowledge of the employees connected to their work. What this means is that not just anyone is allowed to make laws or handle criminals. Such tasks are given to lawyers, judges, cops and the military. All of them must abide by procedural policies.
Weakness: Professionalism certainly is necessary in all organizations. However, its weakness is in how the professionals are perceived as all knowing which unfortunately is not always true.

4. Positivism: According to this, things in the world can be understood through knowledge derived from science. In simplest sense, it promotes the use of research to understand national or community problems and outcomes of the programs.
Weakness: It promotes the misconception that we can know everything by using the knowledge we already have. Secondly, scientific method shows results in numbers which may not represent the entire population.

5. Functionalism: This is about approving what the public agencies can do. They have a mission and their work must be directed towards it.
Weakness: Functionalism is quite conservative. It leaves no room for innovative thinking or any other mission unfamiliar to the organization. In some cases, employees may simply come up with artificial problems to keep their job.

6. Managerial leadership: Once again, this is connected to hierarchy. The good manager is the one who abides by all of the assumptions given above.
Weakness: This just makes bureaucracy stronger.

You may also like:
Policy Sciences of Tyranny
Bureaucracy in the Structure of the Government
Theories of Max Weber
Agenda Setting

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