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Canada (161,663)
POLS 2250 (94)
Tim Mau (35)
Chapter 1


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Political Science
POLS 2250
Tim Mau

POLS*2250 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- making process. 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 governments service and regulatory responsibilities which are performed through what is known as the public bureaucracy, which is an organizational system for achieving government objectives. 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 possible cost This was written more than a century ago, however it is still reasonable. Environment and Size of PublicAdmin Environment Globalization 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 i
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