Midterm Review: Chapters 1-6
Chapter 1: What is PublicAdministration?
As in other parts of the world, governments in Canada are being challenged to respond to such
forces as rapid social change, the emergence of a global economy, startling advances in
information technology, and the public’s insistence on a more open and participating decisions-
The work of public administration in Canada was once largely limited to public servants and
their political superiors, producing a village-like setting in which roles and expectations were
clear and certain and issues were handled without elaborate rules and procedures.
Public Servants are expected to devise appropriate solutions to societal challenges, in part
through efforts to reinvent, rethink, reshape, and revitalize government in general and the public
service in particular.
Importance and Meaning of PublicAdmin
The range of governmental activities includes the traditional functions of administration of
justice, conduct of external relations and defence of the country, as well as newer responsibilities
such as health care, environmental protection and scientific research.
The two major areas of government activities are the provision of services and the enforcement
of regulations. Virtually every government department and agency is involved in research related
to its service or regulatory function.
Public administrators play a large role in formulating and implementing policies to fulfill their
government’s service and regulatory responsibilities which are performed through what is known
as the public bureaucracy, which is an organizational system for achieving government
The Meaning of PublicAdmin
Atypical one-sentence definition of public administration includes “the study and practice of the
tasks associated with the conduct of the administrative state” and “the coordination of individual
group efforts to carry out public policy”. The emphasis in these and most definitions is on the
implementation of policy; there is insufficient recognition of the role of bureaucrats in the
formulation of program and policies.
The terms “public administration” and “public bureaucracy” are often used interchangeably, but
they do not mean the same thing. Public admin refers to a field of practice (occupation) – work
for federal or provincial government – and to a field of study (discipline) focusing on public bureaucracy. Public bureaucracy is the system of authority, people, offices and methods that
government uses to achieve its objective.
PublicAdmin vs. PrivateAdmin
Two major characteristics of government account in large part for the differences between public
and private admin.
1. The vast scope and complexity of government activities
• Public administration operates less efficiently than private. Governments are not
oriented toward a single goal but rather many goals simultaneously, some of which
my conflict and some of which cannot be stated openly.
• Politicians are also first and foremost concerned with winning public support. The
public judges politicians not on how well they manage departments but by their
policy initiatives and public personae.
• There is a greater emphasis on accountability in the public sector. This arises from the
fact that all of us are forced to contribute financially to government and thus we
expect some say over its operation and or at least an indication that matters are being
handled properly. Sometimes there is a greater need for accountability because
recipients of services have nowhere else to go (health care, education, etc.)
• The human resources management is much more complicated in the public sector as
it is harder to hire or fire government employees. HR management is required to
promote sensitivity and responsiveness to the needs of a certain minority group.
2. The political environment within which these activities are conducted
• Public admin is service to a public, whereas the primary point of private admin is
profit. Public admin results from the need for bureaucrats to assist elected politicians
to respond to public demands and requirements for government services.
• The public nature of public administration requires that much of it be conducted in a
“fishbowl”. Many more government decisions are subjected to public scrutiny
(compared to private decisions, which can remain private).
The Study of PublicAdmin
In the United States, the study of the field is generally acknowledged to date from 1887 with the
publication of Woodrow Wilson’s essay, “The Study ofAdministration”. He stated administrative study was required for two reasons:
1. To discover what governments can properly do
2. To determine how they can do these proper things with the utmost efficiency and the least
This was written more than a century ago, however it is still reasonable.
Environment and Size of PublicAdmin
To its limit, globalization means that everything that happens happens to everyone and at the
same time. For many, globalization is identified with its economic dimension, which is the
movement from a world of distinct economies to a global economy characterized by worldwide
markets for investment, production, distribution and consumption.A key element of
globalization is that it forces governments and bureaucratic agencies to be creative in order to
remain competitive in the new global marketplace. Economic globalization also puts a premium
on governments’ability to act quickly, so there is pressure to make decision making in the public
sector more flexible and open to new ways of organizing itself.
New computing and information processing technology facilitate better access to government
services and make it simpler for citizens to communicate with their governments. Frontline
workers in government are now better able to produce decisions because of easy availability of
information. However, technology also produces problems. It holds great potential for invasion
of privacy, and advances in health care face governments with difficult decisions.
Political culture refers to the values, beliefs, and attitudes we hold about political life, and
surveys reveal that people are less confident in government. There has been a negative shift in
attitudes towards governments.Amajor implication of this change is that governments must
consult more widely and in a more varied fashion with interested public. People are clearly
unhappy with both the level and type of traditional interactions with government.
The last two decades of the 20 century saw difficult financial times for governments, whose
expenses often exceeded their available revenue. Governments responded with a variety of
actions to reduce public obligations and restore fiscal health. Demography
One demographic factor with significant implications for public admin is the changing age
composition. With the baby-boomers aging there is a different need for service and government
administration. Another factor worthy of special mention is the greatly increased participation of
women in the labour force, which has changed child care and family related programs. Finally
governments need to become more sensitive to shifting preferences in a more culturally varied
Legacy of Past Reforms
Long-term forces gave support for the recent creation of new bureaucratic forms, and these came
to be identified with a theory of organizational behaviour called the new public management.At
the same time, the public service realized that a more complicated web of relations had replaced
the simple arrangement or bargain between ministers and their bureaucratic advisors.
In Canada, expansion in the scope and complexity of government activities since the end of
WWII has been accompanied by substantial growth in public expenditure and in the number of
government employees. The increase in total expenditure at all levels of Canadian government
has resulted in a large number of public employees required to carry out increased government
responsibilities.Awide variety of jobs are available to those who aspire to become Canadian
public servants. The complex and technical nature of government operations has brought about a
significant qualitative change in the public service.
Issues and Themes
Power of Bureaucracy
There is a concern that the expertise and experience of public servants along with the sheer size
of the public service put at risk democratic practices. Many bureaucrats have lots of education
for their position, whereas many elected politicians have little education/experience in the
position they are placed. Bureaucrats tend to have long tenures, and politicians turn over quite
The Right Organizational Form
Historically, bureaucracy has assumed a precise shape in which a hierarchical arrangement of
superiors and subordinates carry out their duties in accordance with a precise set of rules and
procedures. Bureaucracy has also at times been used to describe the various processes that tie
together appointed officials with other players in the political process. This set of bureaucratic
forms and processes have served Canada and other countries quite well, because they help
contribute to the efficient and equitable delivery of services to the citizenry. There is a quest to find the one right organization for the task at hand. This quest extends, albeit in a less determined
way, to processes involving public services and others participating in the formulation and
administration of government programs and policies. The processes relate to such matters as
cabinet approval of departmental proposals, financial management of public resources, and inter
government collaborations in the making of public policy.
Crowded World of Public Admin
The activities of public servants now include numerous relations with newly prominent players
in the political process. Appointed officials now must interact with the media, pressure groups
and interested members of the public, and they also must be aware of the rising influence of the
End of the “Bargain”
There are signs that the bargain in which public servants acting as loyal and professional advisors
to elected officials is beginning to crumble. Increasingly, ministers are unwilling to protect
anonymity of public servants and at times seek to place the blame on them. With a fear that
appointed advisors wield too much power, elected officials have begun to seek council outside
the public service.
An examination of public admin sometimes reveals a different dynamic at play, one which sees
public servant competing with each other and with others in the political process in the pursuit of
differing values and interests. With this, the policies of government often represent a compromise
that inevitably arose out of the bargaining inherent in this competitive atmosphere.
Chapter 2: PublicAdmin and Organization Theory: The Structural Foundation
We investigate the basic structures that constitute the bureaucratic organizations in government
and their interactions with other bodies in the political process. It also means taking a close look
at some of the essential duties of public bureaucracies. Theories grapple with the challenge of
offering clear and accurate descriptions of organizational forms. They also put forward
suggestions for enhancing the performance of organizations and ensuring that services are
provided more fairly and efficiently. Theories of organization offer us the framework for better
explaining the behaviour or operation of various structures that may arise in public admin.
Max Weber and Classical Bureaucratic Theory
The first person who systematically studied the emerging phenomenon of bureaucracy was a
German scholar named Max Weber, who was born in 1864. He believed there were three sources
of authority: 1. Traditional authority – the right to rule or exercise authority legitimated by such factors
as heredity, religious beliefs, or divine right.
2. Charismatic authority – based on the outstanding personal characteristics of an individual
3. Legal or rational authority – legitimated by rules and regulations obeyed by both rulers
Characteristics of Weberian Bureaucracy
The modern bureaucratic form consisted of a number of related characteristics. When combined
in the same organization, the result was what he called the pure or “ideal-type” bureaucracy.
Can also be described as the unity of command, which means for each position in the hierarchy,
there is only one supervisor. The clear line of authority produced by unity of command was one
reason Weber felt that bureaucracy was more efficient than previous forms of organization
Specialization of Labour
Division of responsibilities was significant because a person could become very efficient when
able to concentrate on a specific job.
Employment and Promotion Based on Merit
There was an assurance of competence. Employment and promotion based on an objective test of
merit provided this assurance and thus increased the efficiency of operation
Employment in the bureaucracy was full-time activity and major source of income of the official.
It ensured that the official would develop allegiance to the bureaucracy and that the bureaucrat’s
hierarchical superior could exercise real control over the day to day activities of the official.
Decision Based on Impersonal Rules
If a particular benefit is to be provided without regard to race or religion, then a member of the
bureaucracy would risk severe penalties if he or she allowed personal prejudice to affect the
decision made. This reliance on impersonal rules increases confidence in the bureaucracy by
establishing a regime of certainty in dealings.
Importance of Written Files Prove that he or she has abided by the rules in making decisions, then he or she must maintain
written records, first, of the rules themselves, and second, of all decisions made and the rationale
for those decisions. The bureaucrat’s allegiance to the rules takes precedence over allegiance to
his or her superior.
Bureaucratic Employment is Separate from the Individual Bureaucrats Private Life
It is always clear that the power is attached to the position rather than the individual. The
bureaucrat is not permitted to obtain any personal gain, other than a fixed salary, from his or her
Webers Views on Bureaucracy
He agreed that bureaucracy was the most efficient method of organization; however he foresaw
many of the problems familiar to anyone who interacts with the bureaucratic organizations.
Weber understood that the technical superiority of bureaucratic official might put them in a
position to overwhelm leaders of the organization. He feared that the bureaucratic vales of order
and security might prevail over those which we cherish and see as essential to an open, thriving
Criticisms of Weber
Amajor line of criticism is that Weber dwelt too much on the structural aspects of bureaucracy
and not enough on the human side of the organization. It is suggested that because Weber viewed
bureaucrats as mere cogs in the mechanism, he overstated the impact of the organization on
workers and overlooked the effect of the worker on the organization. The term “red-tape” arises
from this excessive obedience to requirements and regulations as does the reluctance of
bureaucracies to consider changes in their operation.
Others criticise weber because of perceived internal inconsistencies in his model of bureaucracy.
The model relies on professional or expert decision making to ensure efficiency, but it is possible
that superiors may lack the knowledge to make the best decision. To be productive, organizations
require fewer rules, less hierarchy, and employees free to innovate and meet the challenges of an
increasingly complex and competitive world.
Ahierarchical organization can soon produce so many levels that it becomes difficult to operate
within the firm or government or to comprehend its overall structure. The emphasis on a strict
division of labour increases the chances that workers will become bored with doing the same
activity every day. It is also easy to require that people be hired and promoted on merit, but
measuring merit can be difficult when trying to include all social differences. Full time
employment also appears to ignore the cost advantages of part time or casual workers and a
government agency can effectively choke on the presence of too many files. Some contend that bureaucracy and it qualities of hierarchy, specialization, and standardization
represent a necessary condition for achieving sound management in government.
Fredrick W. Taylor and Scientific Management
F.W. Taylor, born in 1856, was a mechanical engineer who began his career working as a
technician on the factory floor and spent much of his later life in either a supervisory or an
advisory capacity dealing with problems of production management. His major concern was the
proper arrangement of the human and mechanical resources of the factory so as to minimize
waste, particularly waste of workers time.
He posited two reasons for this behaviour:
1. What he regarded as the natural tendency of employees to do as little work as possible.
2. Work was sometimes arranged in such an awkward manner that no reasonable human
being could physically perform what was expected by superiors.
The obvious solution to the problem was to establish scientific standards based on the proven
physical capacities of workers and then refrain from adjusting those standards arbitrarily.
This was the beginning of the time-and-motion study that has stirred so much controversy on
factory floors. The purpose of these studies was to lean the ideal method of performing a
particular task from the most efficient employees. This is the “one best way” employed by Frank
and Lillian Gilbreth.
Taylor pointed out that workers could be more productive if management took greater care in
organizing the work. He put particular emphasis on such factor as determining the optimal
working rhythm necessary to maximize output.
Taylor also emphasised the importance of financial factors as a motivating force.
Some writers suggest that Taylor showed a lack of concern for the workers. It is clear that we
view management as very enlightened and workers in a rather condescending manner.
Taylor’s main contribution to organization theory was his emphasis on the scientific approach to
work management and his emphasis on the important role of management in organizing the
The Canadian Experience – From Patronage to Merit
The Canadian federal government gradually began adopting some of Taylor’s ideas to speed up
the move from a patronage-based public service to a merit-based one, thus simultaneously
moving toward the Weberian concept of bureaucracy. The Civil Service Commission, established 1908, was the outgrowth of a number of reports
indicating that the prevalence of patronage appointments in the Canadian civil service was
having a detrimental impact on its efficiency. The CSC began the process of entrenching the
merit principle by administering competitive examinations to applications for government
Gradually the powers and responsibilities of the CSC evolved, until in 1918 it was given the
power to make appointments to positions and to reorganize departments.
The positions had to be described in great detail because this was the starting point for the
mechanistic process of matching the person possessing the proper qualifications with the
appropriate position. The next step was to be a sweeping reorganization of the entire
governmental bureaucratic apparatus, streamlining and reducing the number of departments and
The scientific management approach to job classification made it possible to match in a
mechanical fashion, the skills required in a particular job with the skills possessed by a given
Gulick and Urwick and the Scientific Theory of Organization
Span of Control
Span of control refers to the number of subordinates who report to one supervisor
Small spans of control may appear to tighten control for the superior-subordinate relationship,
but they loosen the overall control of the organization by extending the number of levels and
thereby making the top that much more removed from the bottom. To cut down on the number of
levels will reduce the distance between top and bottom, but the resulting increase in the span of
control at each level will lessen the control that each level can maintain.
Appropriate span of control depends on the interactions of several things:
• The mature of the work supervised
• The level of training of the subordinates
• The extent of geographical decentralization of the work
• The overall stability of the organization
Research shows as well that the span of control does indeed have an effect on the productivity or
performance of an organization. Reducing the number of levels between the top and the bottom of the organization decreases the
isolation of those at the top and ensures that they will be more in touch with the organizations
environment. It also reflects the fact that contemporary workers are much better trained than
previous generations and workplaces are more mechanized. Both these factors reduce the level of
detailed supervision needed.
Organization of Duty
They argued that the process of organizational design should work simultaneously from the top
down and from the bottom up.
Gulick suggested that each worker could be characterized in four different ways:
1. The major purpose he or she serves, such as furnishing water, controlling crime or
2. The process he or she uses, such as engineering, medicine, carpentry, stenography,
statistics, and accounting
3. The persons or things he or she deals with or serves
4. The place where he or she renders the service
In designing an organization, employees who had all four things in common would be grouped
together in the same organizational unit.
The question of which of the four should be the dominating principle occurs in a very practical
way when deciding how to arrange the legal services function in a large, multi-functional
It is difficult to resolve this question of the best method of organization. In general it can be said
that governments are most often organized by purpose. But some governments also have
departments with a special mandate to look after the unique problems of particular areas.
Staff and Line Functions
Job of the executive could be summed up as: POSDCORB – planning, organizing, staffing,
directing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting activities
Aline function is directly involved in producing and distributing the goods or services provided
by the organization
Astaff function is a function that aids, advises, and supports the employees providing the line
function, usually without dealing directly with the clients or output of the organization. In some cases the staff department will render advice that the line department would rather not
hear or act upon. Line officials might argue that to carry out their duties appropriately, they
cannot be constrained by the whims of some group that does not fully understand the operation
of the organization
Organizations usually try to resolve possible difficulties between line and staff officials by
establishing clear lines of authority and procedures to be followed in particular cases. These
procedures seldom anticipate every circumstance.
Herbert Simon and the Proverbs of Admin
Simon saves most of his attack for the idea of organizing but purpose, process, people or place.
He points out that not only is the overall idea contradictory in one of the four must take
precedence, but that the concepts themselves are fuzzy and that some of them shade into one
The crucial point remains evident: if judgment and discretion are so important in applying these
principles, can they really be called “scientific?”
To accomplish this, he argues that good empirical work on the efficiency of existing
organizations is needed more than additional theories.
Decentralization and Deconcentration
Decentralization suggests a placing of real discretionary authority in the outlying unit.
Deconcentration, on the other hand, suggests a physical dispersal of members of the
organization with only very limited delegation of decision-making authority.
Geographic decentralization is decentralization by place, but it can also be based on any of
Gulick and Urwick’s other classical methods of organization.
Some employees of the federal government are located across the vast expanse of Canada in
field units that vary greatly in purpose, size, and organization. This deconcentration of the federal
governments operations is essential to the successful development and implementation of its
policies and programs.
The subsequent geographical dispersal of the public service is a government response to the
challenge of providing a broad range of services to a population that is spread across a large
country. Virtually all government departments now have field units, although the size of these
units varies enormously.
There must be a balance between accountability to rules specified in head office and
responsiveness to regional needs. Officials in the field always feel pulled between the two. From the standpoint of head office, the problem is to maintain mechanisms to ensure that
officials in the field are complying with head office rules and procedures without unnecessarily
restricting the freedom of field officials to be responsive to local conditions.
The advantages of decentralization by place include good coordination, within each region and
responsiveness to regional needs. The disadvantages include possible departures from national
objectives and a complex form of organization.
The advantages of decentralization by purpose (process, or people) are the simpler form of
organization and the uniformity of program administration across the country. Its disadvantages
are a lack of coordination of the program at the regional level and a weaker responsiveness to
Chapter 3: PublicAdministration and Organization Theory: The Humanistic Response
This new view took more notice of informal structures and the need for greater flexibility and
autonomy in the workplace. The humanist perspective the employee constituted a complex
individual who could achieve a high level of productivity with the application of the appropriate
motivation. Innovative behaviour
The organizational humanists focused on what actually happened on the factory floor. The
informal system was categorized by the network of friendships, workplace banter and informal
sanctions that occur in every work setting.
Mary Parker Follett
Circular response means no one unilaterally acts on someone else; rather people interact with out
another in ways that influence both parties. Integration referred to the need to combine diverse
elements into a useful whole.
It was however, the particular genius of Follett’s contribution that she recognized and held fast to
the nation that the process of change that generates conflict also provides the opportunity for the
further changes necessary to resolve that conflict. She frequently emphasized the significance of
executives exercising leadership rather than wielding power.
Roethlisberger and Dickson and the Hawthorne Experiments
This led experimenters to focus on the Hawthorne or sympathetic observer effect – the idea that
workers given special attention will experience an increase in morale, which will lead to greater
Chester Barnard and the Importance of Cooperation His crucial ideal was that an organization is a cooperative system held together by a good
communication system and by the continuing desire of individual members to see the
Members of the organization continue to make contributions to it, but only when they receive
adequate inducements to encourage them to continue to do so. The essence of good management
is maintaining a balance between these two. The inducements offered to workers could be in the
form of monetary rewards, but Bernard felt that other forms of inducement such as loyalty, good
working conditions, and pride in both the work and the organization were probably more
He felt that workers were rather docile, uninspired creatures who depended on leadership to
accomplish anything. It was the responsibility of the executive to establish good communication
systems that would in turn instil the appropriate company spirit in employees.
Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
The five levels in the hierarchy of needs are as follows:
1. Physiological – food, shelter, clothing, sex, and sleep
2. Safety – security, stability, freedom from fear
3. Belongingness and love – friendship, love, membership in some community
4. Esteem – achievement, competence, independence, prestige, status
5. Self-actualization – self-fulfilment, attaining ultimate goals in life
Instead, management must be sensitive to the fact that workers have a variety of needs beyond
the simple need for money.
Some of the concepts are poorly defined.
Douglas McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y
Attitudes of individual managers
Theory X – depicts people