Revisiting Waldo's Administrative State: Constancy and Change in Public Administration

Revisiting Waldo's Administrative State: Constancy and Change in Public Administration

Revisiting Waldo's Administrative State: Constancy and Change in Public Administration

Revisiting Waldo's Administrative State: Constancy and Change in Public Administration

Synopsis

The prevailing notion that the best government is achieved through principles of management and business practices is hardly new -- it echoes the early twentieth-century "gospel of efficiency" challenged by Dwight Waldo in 1948 in his pathbreaking book, The Administrative State. Asking, "Efficiency for what?", Waldo warned that public administrative efficiency must be backed by a framework of consciously held democratic values.

Revisiting Waldo's Administrative State brings together a group of distinguished authors who critically explore public administration's big ideas and issues and question whether contemporary efforts to "reinvent government," promote privatization, and develop new public management approaches constitute a coherent political theory capable of meeting the complex challenges of governing in a democracy. Taking Waldo's book as a starting point, the authors revisit and update his key concepts and consider their applicability for today.

The book follows Waldo's conceptual structure, first probing the material and ideological background of modern public administration, problems of political philosophy, and finally particular challenges inherent in contemporary administrative reform. It concludes with a look ahead to "wicked" policy problems -- such as terrorism, global warming, and ecological threats -- whose scope is so global and complex that they will defy any existing administrative structures and values. Calling for a return to conscious consideration of democratic accountability, fairness, justice, and transparency in government, the book's conclusion assesses the future direction of public administrative thought.

This book can stand alone as a commentary on reconciling democratic values and governance today or as a companion when reading Waldo's classic volume.

Excerpt

Dwight Waldo’s The Administrative State: A Study of the Political Theory of American Public Administration (1948) established that public administrative theory is also unavoidably political theory. This insight—obvious to us now—fundamentally changed the study of public administration, presumably forever. Henceforth scholars would analyze the political dimensions of public administrative theories, practices, and reforms. Exploring the politics of administration remains a constant element in the field, even as public administrative theory and practices have changed dramatically. But what has remained constant and what has changed in the political theory of American public administration since The Administrative State first appeared? This is the question addressed by Revisiting Waldo’s Administrative State: Constancy and Change in Public Administration. The editors and seven public administration scholars provide their collective answers with a particular focus on the philosophical, political, ideological, and constitutional underpinnings of the public administrative reform movement that began to sweep the United States in the 1990s.

Our collective effort was made easier by Waldo’s updating of his book in 1984, which took the form of a fifty-six-page introduction preceding a reprinting of the 1948 text (Dwight Waldo, The Administrative State: A Study of the Political Theory of American Public Administration, 2nd ed. [New York: Holmes & Meier, 1984]). The first edition was issued by the Ronald Press of New York, 1948. All references in this volume are to the second edition unless otherwise noted; the text of the first edition appears essentially unchanged in the second . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.