Education for Public Administration: Graduate Preparation in the Social Sciences at American Universities

By George A. Graham | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I THE PROBLEM

PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION is not a fighting phrase, but it has provoked its share of controversy in the relatively short time it has been common currency in the educational world. The concept of public administration must obviously be related to the process of administering governmental operations. Yet the realm of governmental action has suddenly become so vast and so varied as to be productive of not one but many concepts.


WORDS AND CONCEPTS

The broadest view of public administration includes the whole complex field of governmental activities. So conceived, public administration is the totality of governmental operations, many of them highly specialized. A second view is that public administration is essentially a collection of distinct professional or vocational fields. A third view centers on the interrelations of the many people and organizations carrying on public business, emphasizing the managerial problem and process. A fourth view stresses the contribution of governmental experience to governmental policy, and the essence of public administration is conceived to be the formulation1 of public policy. No single concept dominates the thinking of scholars and officials today; each has its points and will doubtless make its contribution to the eventual orthodox concept. For the present the term public administration can be used most safely to mean the work of government performed by appointed officials and employees (except judges), and it is so used in this report, which treats of the function of universities and the role of the social sciences in preparing men for responsible administrative positions in the public service. Any other usage would be arbitrary.2

In a realm of action so rich in volume and in variety of effort there are obviously many problems to provoke interest. There is the problem of formulating plans and policies for adoption. There are the many

____________________
1
Formulation is, of course, distinguished from decision.
2
The words "education" and "training" are used interchangeably in this report, the latter the more frequently partly because of its implication of purpose and direction. The preference for the term "training," however, carries no implications about the nature or the methods of the educational process involved.

-3-

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