Like any other field of social sciences, the development of Public Administration as a study and also, as a practice is a response to evolving social contexts. As it is an eclectic field of study, it has adapted its key concepts and theories predominant in that period of time from the other fields of study. Thus, one can look at its development by identifying key concepts of economic, sociological and other studies that have contributed to how it is today.
According to Brillantes and Fernandez (2008), the development of Public Administration can be classified as traditional/classical Public Administration and modern Public Administration (2). The traditional/classical Public Administration mainly leans on the models of Organization theory. These models are classified into three, namely, the classical, the neoclassical or human relations and the integration theory or modern theory (Cabo 36). The classical theory became the conceptual foundations of the traditional public administration (Cabo 37). There are 3 schools of thoughts under this theory.
One is the Scientific Management which searches for the “one best way” for an organization to work efficiently, that is, increased productivity with minimal waste and costs (Cabo 37). In doing so, the model suggests that there is a scientific way to achieve production goals. It then postulates that to increase workers’ productivity, “the best way” is that there should be a competitive management, a clear division of duties between management and labor, and a scientific method and technique in selecting, training, and motivating employees (Cabo 37).
With this, time and motion studies became a prevalent method in looking for the “one best way” (Cabo 37). However, although these studies have indeed improved productivity, it was heavily criticised later on because it failed to account the individuals’ common sense and judgement in the organization (Laegaard and Bindslev 15). Nevertheless, the model is still useful in evaluating technical processes both in the private and public sector to this day (Laegaard and Bindslev 15).
Meanwhile, as Scientific Management focuses on increasing productivity, the second school of thought, the Administrative Management, focuses more on the efficiency of management of organization (Cabo 44). It contends that a general theory of administration which can be both applied in the private and public sector is highly possible and that studies must seek to discover and understand the underlying principles that govern it (Fayol cited in Cabo 40, Brillantes Jr. and Fernandez 3). According to Henry Fayol, there are 14 principles of administration.
These are: division of labor, authority, discipline, unity of command, unity of direction, subordination of individual interest to general interest, remuneration of employee, centralization, scalar chain of hierarchy, order, equity, stability of tenure of personnel, initiative, and esprit de corps (Fayol cited in Cabo 40-41). Meanwhile, Gulick and Urlick (1937) further enhanced Fayol’s ideas into a comprehensive theory of administration (Brillantes Jr. and Fernandez 3) and contended that there are 7 administrative functions the management should perform (1937 cited in Cabo 42).
These are planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting, and budgeting or POSDCORB (Gulick and Urlick 1937 cited in Cabo 42). In general, Administrative Management offered practical ways to organization and management (Cabo 43). They are, however, criticised because of the lack of systematic methods (Cabo 43) and over-simplification of administrative conditions (Simon cited in Laegaard and Binslev 16) which resulted to contradicting principles (Simon cited in Cabo 43).
Lastly, the third school of thought, the bureaucratic model, is different from the other two as it includes social and historical perspective in its approach to organization (Laegaard and Binslev 16). Its main contention is that for an organization to function smoothly, bureaucracy must consist of neutral professional public employees and that public employees must act as if the superior’s interests are his own (Weber cited in Laegaard and Binslev 16). It identifies 5 characteristics of an ideal bureaucracy, namely, hierarchy, division of labor, formally written rules and procedures, impersonality, and neutrality (Weber cited in Cabo 44).
The classical theories, in general, defined many of the key concepts of the Organization theory which greatly enriched the traditional Public Administration. However, they are criticised as having very little regard to the worker or employee within the organization as persons (Cabo 44). The worker is seen as economically-driven (Cabo 44) and therefore the social-psychological aspects, which may also contribute to his productivity, is not taken into account. Thus, in response, the neoclassical model of Organization theory was proposed.
Rather than focusing on the mechanical aspect, the theory focuses more on human relations and sees organizations as social systems composed of interpersonal relationships (Cabo 47). It looks into the how people interact with one another in the organization, how they behave, their feelings, motivations, and aspirations (Cabo 47). One of the key ideas of the theory is the result of the Hawthorne experiments wherein it was found out that informal work groups, rather than management demands, have greater influence on employee productivity (Cabo 48).
Chester Bernard (1938) then explained that the informal groups are significant in an organization because it fosters social integration by providing for the social-psychological needs of workers such as pride, prestige, and loyalty (Cabo 49). In general, the theory enriched the study of Public Administration as it makes human perspective an equally important organizational concern (Cabo 49). There are, however, criticisms that arise on the concepts of the theory. Although it has offered explanations on organization performance, it has failed to explain adequately other aspects of organization behaviour and performance (Cabo 49).
More so, the human relations approach is prone to management manipulation of informal groups just to get workers do what management dictates (Cabo 49). Thus, in order to deal with the weaknesses of both the classical and neo-classical theories, the integrative or modern organization theory was proposed. The theory tries to understand and explain the organization in a more holistic method, integrating the classical approach with the social-psychological perspective of human relations (Cabo 50).
With this, the theory then proceeds to look into aspects of organization where management and workers meet their goals. Four streams of thought fall into the modern organization theory, namely, the decision-making theory, industrial humanism, open-systems theory, and the contingency approach. With decision-making theory, bounded rationality is being established contrary to the complete rationality of the classical model (Cabo 51). This is because, in every organization, decisions made are bounded with organizational and human limitations (Simon cited in Cabo 50-51).
Rather than getting everything they want, people tend meet half-way and make satisficing decisions to achieve their goals (Simon cited in Cabo 51). Meanwhile, with Industrial Humanism, it is contended that the formal organization structure itself facilitates adverse effects on the workers’ performance (Cabo 52). Thus, social and psychological concepts like human needs and motivations should be considered in the formulation of key aspects of organization such as in job designs, organization structure, and management functions, among others (Cabo 51).
The Open systems theory, for its part, sees the organization as an open system that is continuously interacting with the environment and is affected by it (Cabo 53). Thus, for organizations to survive and grow, it must be dynamic and adaptable to the changes in the environment. Therefore, inputs such as human and material resources are seen as essential in its operations and success (Cabo 51). Lastly, the contingency approach in the modern theory basically suggests that there is no single technique or method that is applicable to all situations (Cabo 55).
Managers or administrators must be able to determine the need at hand and make use of the existing management and administrative ideas. Public Administration as a study, did not however, stop at looking institutions and its processes at organizational level. It went beyond so as take more of the social responsibility expected of Public Administration, that is, for the welfare of the public it serves. The events that followed after Word War II marks the beginning of this new development stage called the modern Public Administration.
As post-war effects, coupled with internal political-economic factions, were felt, many of the third world countries had been struggling to jump start economic development (Cabo 64). Thus, the study and practice of Public Administration, particularly the traditional Public Administration was introduced to third world by Western powers. As the field was seen as an agent of social change (Brillantes Jr. and Fernandez, 5) and served as a guide for development, it took a new identity and is now called Development Administration.
Development Administration is a sub-phase of modern Public Administration wherein traditional Public Administration is used to describe the societal problems and craft solutions in the third world context (Cabo 64). The goal was to “steer countries along the path of economic and social progress” by strengthening the bureaucracy to ensure efficient and effective implementation of policies and programs (Cabo 64). According to Gant (1979), Development Administration characteristics can be best explained by purpose, loyalties, and attitude (Cabo 64).
By purpose, DA seeks to stimulate and facilitate national development, implement policies and programs determined by the people and introduce change and innovative structures and processes that will help achieve development goals (Cabo 64). By loyalty, the bureaucracy establishes pledges to the people through their elected representatives and by attitude, DA is positive, persuasive, innovative, and outward looking (Cabo 64). Although the theory seeks to help third world countries gear towards development, it has somehow failed to achieve its goals as the model yielded varied results (Cabo 64).
Few of the main reasons that have caused the mixed results are the culture factor and the existing social, economic, and political contexts in a particular society (Cabo 64). Development Administration leanings towards Scientific and Administrative Management (Cabo 63) failed to capture the external factors brought about by differences in social contexts. Meanwhile, the New Public Administration, another sub-phase of modern Public Administration, first emerged in the United States as a response to the observed widening of gap between prosperity and status of well-being among the people (Cabo 66).
The main goal of the New Public Administration was to achieve social equity (Cabo 66). In order to do so, the government must not take a value-free stance as being promoted by the traditional Public Administration (Cabo 66). Rather, it must protect and promote the welfare of the disadvantaged groups (Cabo 64). It is from this theory that the concept of Reinventing Government, a newer sub-phase, is built upon.
With the rapid changes in many of the societies nowadays, the advent of modernization and the expanding field of technology, the previous theories of Public Administration are seen as anachronistic (Cabo 73). Unlike the New Public Administration that sees the government as the driver of social change, Reinventing Government sees the government as a facilitator to bring about change through collective efforts (Cabo 74). Coined by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler (1993), the theory seeks to improve government performance by changing the ways and means of the government in achieving its goals (Cabo 75).
It contends that the government must act in entrepreneurial ways (Cabo 74), that is, to maximize productivity and effectiveness at lower costs. The theory builds up on the assumption that government is a crucial factor in collective undertakings to solve social problems and that civilized society cannot function effectively without it (Cabo 74). It is also the task of the government to uphold equity or equal opportunity as it is critical to the nation’s success (Cabo 74). Reinventing government has 10 principles laid down by Osborne and Gaebler.
These are: catalytic government: steering rather than rowing, community-owned government: empowering rather than serving, competitive government: injecting competition to service delivery, mission-driven government: transforming rule-driven organization, results-oriented government: funding outcomes not inputs, customer-driven government: meeting the needs of the customers, not the bureaucracy, enterprising government: earning rather than spending, anticipatory government: prevention rather than cure, decentralized government: from hierarchy to participation and teamwork, and market-oriented government: leveraging change through the market (Osborne and Gaebler 1993, cited in Cabo 74-79).
Currently, one of the new streams of Reinventing government is the E-government, wherein access to public information and processing of documents have been made available through the internet thereby making the government more reachable to the people and transactions which involves them faster and more convenient (Fang 1).
Also, there is a proposition from Barzelay (2001) that the New Public Management which is into reinventing government, must turn towards policy approach for it to be able to enhance both study and practice of the field. With the policy approach, analysis may then be undertaken weighing consequences of combinations of government rules and routines in a particular context (Barzelay 158) to determine what works and what does not. Reinventing government, however, takes high risks if implemented. It entails radical change and doing so may then entail costs and risks which are too much to take by political leaders and public managers alike (Halachimi 1995 cited in Cabo 80).
In addition, getting the consensus of stakeholders who will be affected by the changes may be difficult (Cabo 80). The theory is also being criticized for looking at the people as customers or end users of policies rather than as citizens or participants in the policy-making process (Brillantes Jr. and Fernandez 7). Nevertheless, the field has evidences of success in Australia, the United Kingdom, and in New Zealand (Barzelay 162). Thus, it only signifies that reinventing government is possible. As being discussed above, the development of Public Administration has generally been a response to the context from which they are crafted upon. They are born out of the need to be able to solve pressing issues and concerns in a particular period.
However, even though society has evolved to something very different from where the concepts and theories were formulated, the thoughts and ideas are still evident in the practice of Public Administration today. A good example is evident in the State of the Nation Address of the President of the Philippines, Benigno Simeon Aquino III. In his SONA, concepts of Organizational classical theory, such as efficient and effective implementation of programs and projects based on scientific studies and the principles of administration such as discipline, order, and initiative, among others are evident. Application of the Neo-classical theory is evident in the program implementations of Community-Driven Development (CDD) and Bottom-top Budget Approach (BUB).
With CDD and BUB, it is the people and the local government that identify projects for their community. Meanwhile, New Public Administration concepts are reflected through the delivery of social services in health and education such as Philhealth coverage and more classrooms for school children. But in general, the government’s overall goal is to reinvent itself under the slogan tungo sa matuwid na daan. Although there has been much debate on the road the government has taken to change, it still is an effort to reinvent to gain back the trust of the people and to make its services more efficient and effective. In all these processes, it can be said that government plays a significant role in Public Administration.
As more and more models or theories are made available, the government, in coordination with stakeholders, must carefully determine what model/s to use to achieve desired change in the society. It is important that stakeholders should be knowledgeable of the strengths and weaknesses of each model and carefully evaluate the context and processes from which it will be applied so as not to over target or fall less to avoid erroneous operationalization of solutions. Nevertheless, as society continuous to evolve, academics and practitioners of Public Administration alike must continue to develop models that are timely and relevant in order to keep the discipline alive for the welfare of the people.