Management Analysis in Public Organizations: History, Concepts, and Techniques

By Ray C. Oman; Stephen L. Damours et al. | Go to book overview

MA. If a key role of government is to improve the quality of life of its citizens, then MA must meet this challenge of definition and measurement. Also, quality involves product quality and quality control. Industrial management and public administration have been criticized, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, for delivering goods and services that lacked quality. By 1980 the U.S. automobile had become almost a symbol of the lack of attention to quality and quality control in U.S. industries. Again, quantitative factors are easier to measure than is quality. The key for U.S. management here is to incorporate a commitment to quality equal to that which already exists for time and costs. The task for MA is to include quality considerations in policy analysis and program evaluation so that quality considerations help in making final decisions.

Looking to the future of public administration and MA, it is worth asking what ideas or lessons of the past are important to carry forward. There are two thoughts in this regard. The first concerns the "crisis of public administration." If this crisis is primarily concerned with the lack of a single theory or paradigm or even a single direction of inquiry for public administration, then it will likely carry into the decade of the 1990s. However, this crisis can be viewed as a sign of health in a field or profession still able to accept new ideas and still undergoing transformation.

Another issue for the 1990s will be how to couple the relatively new fiscal and expenditure austerity with the need for social equity. If history is a valid guide, those at the lower end of the economic spectrum usually bear a disproportionate share of any cutbacks. Can MA find more-creative solutions to this important problem? If not, this can mean not only a decline in the viability and the respectability of public administration and MA, but it could also mean the decline of our civilization.


NOTES
1.
Vincent Ostrom, The Intellectual Crisis in American Public Administration (University, AL: The University of Alabama Press, 1974), p. 10.
2.
H. George Frederickson, New Public Administration (University, AL: The University of Alabama Press, 1980), pp. x-xii.
3.
Ibid., p. 122.
4.
Ibid.
5.
Ibid., p. xi.
6.
Ibid., p. xii.
7.
Herbert Kaufman, "Administrative Decentralization and Political Power," Public Administration Review ( Washington, D.C.: ASPA, Jan./Feb. 1969): 3-15.

-169-

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