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University of Guelph
Political Science
POLS 2250
Tim Mau

WHAT IS PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION?  PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION: 1) A FIELD OF PRACTICE (OCCUPATION); - federal, provincial, local bureaucracies 2) FIELD OF STUDY (DISCIPLINE) - educators  PUBLIC BUREAUCRACY – “SYSTEM OF AUTHORITY, PEOPLE, OFFICES AND METHODS THAT GOVERNMENT USES TO ACHIEVE ITS OBJECTIVES” - through bureaucracy, public servants and institutions, values are delivered to the public  WOODROW WILSON (1887) – FIRST TO ARTICULATE THE NEED FOR A SCIENCE OF ADMINISTRATION - former president of the U.S. (after publishing his articles) - most political thinkers at the time were directing their attention to the consititution - the state was more limited in what it was doing (government revenues and expenditures were relatively non-existent in comparison to today’s welfare state) - government’s business could be made more business-like - well-functioning administrating systems can provide valuable lessons - Leonard White: administration is a singular process from every perspective o ADMINISTRATIVE STUDY REQUIRED FOR 2 REASONS:  DISCOVER WHAT GOVERNMENTS CAN PROPERLY DO - what is the appropriate role of the size and scope of the state (should we be looking for a more activist state or a limited state that stays in the background)  DETERMINE HOW THEY CAN DO THESE PROPER THINGS WITH THE UTMOST EFFICIENCY AND LEAST POSSIBLE COST - new public management is a recent notion within Canada, national topic around the world PUBLIC VS. PRIVATE ADMINISTRATION SIMILARITIES – POSDCORB - planning, organizing, staffing, developing, coordinating, budgeting - not important elements DIFFERENCES 1. PUBLIC GOODS/INTEREST VS. PROFIT / BOTTOM LINE - public goods/interest – public sector (ex. Air Canada) – the state will get involved financially in some economic areas because they do not make financial sense for privatized companies - profit/bottom line – private sector 2. PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION – LESS EFFICIENT a. NO PROFIT MOTIVATION b. PROVISION OF UNPROFITABLE SERVICES - many things government’s do that are not profitable because the private sector is not interested c. POLITICAL CONSIDERATIONS i. ELECTIONS - every 5 years constitutionally, historically every 4 years - political parties identify platforms and make decisions to be re-elected rather than what is best for the country ii. DURATION - in terms of providing leadership and direction, short terms in office make this difficult - engaging and succession planning (better in private sector where a CEO would help a vice president of a company to take on the senior role) iii. CABINET SOLIDARITY - government’s will consult and debate behind closed doors about policies – once the government makes a decision, every member must stand behind it or resign their position iv. MINISTERIAL INTERFERENCE - the minister or their political staff will interfere in the operation of a department - younger staffers (public servants) can meddle v. NEED FOR CONSISTENCY IN PROGRAM DELIVERY - affinity or loyalty reward cards to customers (seen in private sector companies) but in public sector companies, everyone must be treated equally vi. NEED TO PROTECT MINISTER - from embarrassment - public servants are less willing to be innovative or take risks because their job is on the line vii. RE-ELECTION - difficult for long-term thinking within government due to short periods in power (4-5 years) whereas private sector companies seek long-term potential, growth, changes, etc. viii. NEUTRALITY - many individuals in government have secure positions and cannot be fired or let go due to a change in political party - we do not have a politicized bureaucracy - public servants in this case, need to remain neutral and not be affiliated with a specific party and therefore lack passion to wards policies or programs that could enhance efficiency in the context of service provision 3. ACCOUNTABILITY IS MORE COMPLEX IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR - triangular hierarchy in private sector companies (CEO has all power) - minister is supposed to be ultimately responsible within one department in public sector (government) but need to be sensitive to the prime minister as well as the clark and privy counsel’s opinions - central agencies (pm’s office, privy counsel’s office): need to make sure that the broader goals of government are being worked towards 4. HR CONSTRAINTS - (human resources) - much more difficult to be hired or fired in public sector - hiring decision take too long within government and individuals would receive other offers from private sector companies 5. MEDIA SCRUTINY - more focus on government within media in comparison to the private sector 6. PERSUASION AND DIRECTION - in government, managers seek to mediate decisions - in the private sector it is easier to make decisions when in a superior position (little contradiction) - it is important to study public administration because it is good to understand the inner workings of the
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