The Study of Public Administration
• How would you define public administration in one phrase, one paragraph, or an
• Is public administration a profession or just an occupation?
• How does a public administration career offer the potential of a great adventure?
• What are the differences between public administration and private
Scope of and Understanding Public Administration
1. What is the “public” in public administration?
2. What is meant by “administration”?
3. The Concept of the “Publicness”
4. The idea of “administration”
Determining the “Publicness” of Public Administration
Public goods that are produced in the public interest. Some goods are found to be
beneficial to the public, and therefore government looks after the production of these
goods and services.
a. The Extent of Public-Private Distinction
Publicness is understood from the public’s distinguishing features: including its
service norms, such as impartiality and openness; its principles, such as equality
and representation; its monopolistic and complex nature; and its longer and
broader social implications.
b. The Composition of Service Recipients
The public, in this sense, represents a shared and universally accessible domain
involving the interests of all citizens.
c. The Magnitude and Intensity of its Socioeconomic Role
Nature of the Role PA Places in Society
PA’s broader and more intensive roles represent its wider societal impacts, and
thus greater publicness, whereas its narrower and weaker role implies its limited
social impacts, and thus less publicness.
Example: beer in Quebec vs. beer in Ontario
d. The Degree of Public Accountability
The process in which the public extracts accountability from the public sector.
Example: procedures to address people’s grievancese. The Level of Public Trust
The credibility, leadership, and responsiveness to serve the people.
In its broadest sense it refers to:
• The activities of groups cooperating to accomplish common goals, that is,
a cooperative group behaviour.
In its narrow sense, it means:
• Those patterns of behaviour that are common to many kinds of
cooperating groups and that do no depend upon either the specific goals toward
which they are cooperating or the specific technological methods used to reach
• How a job is done, not the method used.
• How the method was chosen.
• How the people were selected.
• How the task was divided.
• How employees learned their particular job.
• How they learned to perform.
• How their efforts are coordinated to achieve the goal.
What is Public Administration?
Why do we need Public Administration?
• US President Woodrow Wilson: “Most important part of government.”
• Prime Mister Harper wouldn’t exist if there’s no administration.
Public Administration is:
• a government in action
• the executive
• the opportunity to operate
• the most visible side of government
• as old as government
1. According to Frank Marini:
A professional practice
Vocation, occupation, field of activity
An academic field
…seeks to develop an understanding, criticisms, and improve professional
Public administration simple reflects, on one hand, to the administration or management
of issues which have principles to do with the society, and its sup-parts which are notessentially private (your family is not public), commercial or individualistic, and on the
other hand, to the disciplined study of such issues.
In its simplest form, public administration has to do with managing the issues and affairs
of government and other public activities.
2. Jay M Shafritz and EW Russel have clustered the various definitions into:
Public administration cannot exist outside of its political context. It is this
context that makes it public, that makes it different from private or business
a. Public administration is what government does
b. Public administration is both direct and indirect
Government employees provide direct services to the public.
Direct example: Canada post delivers mail for the country. Canada
post employees are bureaucrats.
Direct example: electricity is a direct service.
Indirect example: garbage
Hybrid services – public city hires a private company to pick up
c. Public administration is a phase in the public policymaking cycle