POLS 2250 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Visible Minority, Wield, Economic Globalization

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9 Aug 2016
Week #1 – January 5th-9th, 2015
Chapter 1: What is Public Administration – Page #3-15:
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 participative decision-making process
Being a public servant means engaging in very difficult work, with failure always just around
the corner
This period in public administration is also troubling because the forces of change have
rearranged the manner in which those in government carry out their duties
The work of public administration in Canada was only largely limited to public servants and
their political superiors, producing a village-like setting in which roles and expectations were
clear an certain issues were handled without elaborate rules and procedures
Technology and a more aggressive media now make public servants much more open to the
public, and various bodies interest groups, new investigative entities, the courts have
emerged to play a larger role in the shaping of government actions
Despite these disruptions and changes, public servants remain centrally involved in public
There are expected to devise appropriate solutions to societal challenges, in part through
effort to reinvent, rethink, reshape, and revitalize government in general and the public
service in particular
Though the disruptions and difficulties apparent in public administration are unsettling, they
are also present in public servants with opportunities unavailable until now
Importance and Meaning of Public Administration:
The growth of responsibilities in all spheres of Canadian government federal, provincial,
and municipal has a great impact on the daily lives and future prospects of Canadian
The range of governmental activities includes the traditional functions of administration of
justice, conduct of external relations, and defense of the country, as well as newer
responsibilities such as health care, environmental protection, and scientific research
Federal public servants control and inspect air traffic; protect coastal waterways against
pollution and overfishing; guard prisoners in penitentiaries and rehabilitate offenders; protect
our health and safety by inspecting food, water, air, and medicine; issue millions of cheques
annually to seniors and needy Canadians; help unemployed Canadians find jobs; and
support science, technology, and the delivery of foreign aid
The two major areas of government activities are the provisions of services and the
enforcement of regulations
The service functions include the delivery of mail, the maintenance of roads and highways,
and the administration of grants and loans
Among the regulatory functions are the prevention of unsafe workplaces, the support of
Canadian culture, and the enforcement of fair housing and employment regulations
Virtually every government department and agency is involved in research related to its
service or regulatory functions
Many important functions of government, such as the preservation of internal law and order
or the administration of justice, is taken for granted unless the services are discontinued or
disrupted for some reason
Even though many political leaders aspire to limit the size of the public sector, governments
involve themselves in all facets of the lives of Canadians
The extensive and pervasive activities of Canadian governments have a great deal to do with
public administration
Public administrators play a large role in formulating and implementing policies to fulfill their
government’s service and regulatory responsibilities
These responsibilities are performed through what is known as the public bureaucracy or
bureaucracy, which is an organization system for achieving government objectives
Elected representatives, especially political executives, participate actively in the making of
public policies
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Week #1 – January 5th-9th, 2015
Public servants also have considerable influence on the content of the policies and make
most of the decisions required to implement them
The role of bureaucracy is the major focus
The Meaning of Public Administration:
Public Administration 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 use of managerial, political, and legal theories and processes to fulfill legislative,
executive, and judicial governmental mandates for the provision of regulatory and service
functions for the society as a whole or for some segments of it
These definitions indicate the scope and purpose of public administration, but they are
incomplete in their coverage and very general in their wording
The terms “public administration” and “public bureaucracy” are often used interchangeably,
but they don’t mean the same thing
Public administration refers to a field of practice (or occupation) and to a field of study (or
Public bureaucracy is the system of authority, people, offices, and methods in other words,
an organizational form that government uses to achieve its objectives
A workable definition of public administration is that it deals with the public, civil, or civic
service, including all matters of concern within itself, all the matters which impinge on it, and
all matters on which it impinges
The definition fixes on the public or civil service and also notes that public administration
goes beyond the inner workings of bureaucratic agencies and structures
Definitions and discussions of public administration often contain references to public policy /
o Public policy a course of action chosen by government to address a societal
Often the term is accompanied by reference to a program
o Program a set of activities used to carry out the policies of government
Public Administration vs. Private Administration:
The meaning of public administration can be clarified by comparing it with private (or
business) administration
Administration in all organizations involves cooperative group action
All large organizations must provide for the performance of such functions of general
management as planning, organizing, staffing, and budgeting
There are, however, many distinguishing factors in the administration of public sector
organizations, and these differences have important implications for the study and practice of
public administration
At the very least, these differences suggest the need for caution in transferring practices and
technologies from private sector organizations to public sector organizations
The first and most frequently cited difference is that the overall mission of public
administration is service to the public, whereas the primary raison d’être of private
administration is profit, or what is often described as “the bottom line”
The service orientation of public administration results from the needs for bureaucrats to
assist elected politicians to respond to public demands and requirements for government
Private administration is profit-oriented because the survival of private sector organizations
ultimately depends on making a profit
Its commonly argued that a second difference is that public administration operates less
efficiently than private administration
Governments are not oriented towards a single goal such as profit maximization; rather, they
typically must satisfy several goals simultaneously, some of which may conflict with one
another, and some of which cannot even be stated openly
In this complex environment, it is not surprising that governments sometimes do things that
would not stand the test of businesslike principles
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