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POLI 2Q98 Lecture Notes - United States House Committee On Oversight And Government Reform, Transport Canada, Privative

Political Science
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Public Administration
What is the public sector?
Public vs. private sector: management techniques influence public administration
Purpose of public administration is supposed to be good for public
What is the measure of “good” public administration? Public monopoly on coercion
Is public administration accountable?
Human resources management public servants generally have tenure and other fights
as public servants
Cabinet secrets vs. public knowledge: what the public sees vs. what other bureaucrats
see is difficult but “at the top” there can be a lot of public security
Trade-offs between democracy and administration efficiency
Power dispersed vs. concentrated
Suspicion of executive power vs. enhancing it
Power to politicians, interest groups and citizen’s vs. power to experts and
professional bureaucrats
Political bargaining and accommodation vs. desire to “keep politics separate”
The size of public sector and its changing environment
In Canada, significant growth in administrative capacity during WWI and WWII
Major growth of governments at federal and provincial levels, 1994-1980
Efforts to control spending and reduce the size of government in the 1980’s- today
More recently, increased spending on security
Further issues and themes
What are the real powers of public bureaucracy in Canada?
Is the public bureaucracy the “right” size or responsibilities that it carries out
Whither the “Westminster Model”
The origins of public administration
Certain social and economic preconditions
Development of a money economy is a presupposition for bureaucracy, because
bureaucrats are compensated with money
According to Weber, professional, paid bureaucracies developed in ancient Egypt; the
later Roman Empire; Roman Catholic Church; China; 19th century Europe; 19th – 20th
century corporations

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Ancient Athens earliest democratic governance
The collection of taxes
Development of an autonomous capacity to collect taxes also a major feature of early
public administration
Some countries, such as the United Kingdom were relatively late to develop this
capacity, relying instead on a feudal model with delegated authority to non bureaucrats
Capacity improved as British Empire developed: Empire could not have been
managed without relatively sophisticated public bureaucracy
Diversity of administrative tasks
In ancient Egypt, evidence that professional bureaucrats were involved in the public
regulation of waterways for navigation, agriculture and drinking water
By 19th century, new technologies bringing in new administrative requirements: public
lands for settlement and development; waterways including canals; railroads; the
New technologies required professional, increasingly public and collective regulation,
led to an increase in State’s administrative capacity;
The concentration of the means of administration
Karl Marx vs. Max Weber: Weber felt that Marx got it all wrong, that the real problem
with capitalism was not the concentration of the means of production but the
concentration of the means of administration in bureaucracy
More a European or continental debate, because Weber not translated and published in
English until after WWII
The study of public administration: the classical approach
The “classical” approach begins with Woodrow Wilson’s 1887 article that set out the
politics administration dichotomy;
Wilson defined the scope of the study of public administration
Scientific Management movement, centered mainly in the U.S.
The (re)discovery of Weber after WWII also influenced the “classical” approach
The behaviouralist approach
Some overlap with the “classical” approach, especially regarding the study of
“classical” bureaucratic models;
Part of wider movement in the social science, emergence of political science;
Dominant in political science before the rise of more “rational-choice” approaches;
Today the behaviouralists’ study of “actual behaviour” competes with “rational
choice” emphasis on methodologies from economics

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The state of the art in Canada
Development of academic journals, e.g. Canadian Public Administration, Canadian
Journal of Political Science;
Development of “in-house” training capacities, e.g. Management Development Centre
Development of academic programs
Crosses boundaries of law, political science and public policy
Max Weber and the “Ideal Type of Bureaucracy”
Weber’s Ideal Type (IT) was NOT intended to be a description of reality;
Was NOT intended to be a hypothesis; and
Was NOT intended to be a normative “ideal model” of bureaucracy
Weber wrote that his IT “has nothing to with any type of perfection other than a
purely logical one
Seven main characteristic of Weber’s “Ideal Type” (Barker, pp 18-19)
(1) Hierarchy: unified command structure, administration is carried out on a
continuous basis, not simple at pleasure of leader;
(2) Specialization of Labour: tasks within the organization divided into functionally
distinct areas each with requisite authority and sanctions
(3) Employment and Promotion based on merit:
- Officials appointed on the basis of a contract
- Officials appointed, not elected: according to Weber, election modifies the
strictness of hierarchical subordination
- Appointment on the basis of professional qualifications
- Career structure exists with promotion based on merit and may also be based on
(4) Full-time employment
- Officials have fixed monetary salary and pension rights
- The official’s position is his or her sole or major occupation
- Full-time employment facilitates control over the official within the hierarchy
(5) Decisions made on the basis of impersonal rules:
- Not simply the existence of these rules but the quality and mode of application
of those rules that distinguishes bureaucratic organization
- The official is subject to a unified control and disciplinary system in which the
means of compulsion and its exercise are clearly defined
(6) Importance of Written Files:
- Administration is based on written documents;
- Memos; databases; “institutional memory”
(7) Bureaucratic employment separate from bureaucrat’s private life:
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