Globalization and Public Administration

Article excerpt

This article discusses globalization and its implications for public administration. Using a political economy approach, an analysis is made of the different meanings and perspectives of globalization, of the causes and consequences of globalization, and of the underpinnings or constitutive elements of globalization, a phenomenon that is all-embracing with transworld and for-reaching implications for society, governance, and public administration. Causes of globalization are discussed, such as the economic factors of surplus accumulation, corporate reorganization, shift of corporate power structure, global money and financialization, global state and administration, domestic decline, rising human expectations, innovations, and global supranational organizations such as the United Nations. Consequences of globalization are discussed, including the positive impact such as continuity and persistence of the state and public administration, but also its negative consequences such as threat to democracy and community, increasing corruption, and elite empowerment. Then a discussion is made of the converging, hegemonic global order with a question of possible counterohegemonic model that might alter the dominant world order. Finally, the article presents a number of significant implications--positive and negative--for public administration as a theory and practice, from both American and comparative/international perspectives.


As the new millennium approaches, a new civilization is dawning. The qualitative changes of this civilization have been the subject of many studies. For example, Huntington (1996) speaks of the "clash of civilizations," Fukuyama (1992) predicts "the end of history and man," and Korbin (1996) indicates a "return back to medievalism." The hallmark of this change is the process of globalization, through which worldwide integration and transcendence take place, evoking at least two different intellectual responses. On one hand there are those who argue that the growth of transnational corporations, in particular because of their "state-indifferent" nature, and the spread of global capitalism have made state irrelevant or even obsolescent (Ball, 1967; Naisbitt, 1994; Ohame, 1995). Some think of it as even the end of work (Rifkin, 1975) and of public administration (Stever, 1988). Others believe that global capitalism has led to the generation of suprastate governing agencies that are supplementing, if not supplanting, the territorial nation-states (Picciotto, 1989; Cox, 1993; Korten, 1995). Still others have suggested that this also has eroded the sense of community and urban power structure (Mele, 1996; Knox, 1997; Korten, 1995), causing the loss of urban jobs (Wilson, 1996). They also warn that the merging of the supranational governance agencies has deepened the dependency of less developed countries, exacerbated their fiscal crises, and created a serious problem of governability in those nations (Kregel, 1998).

On the other hand, some public administrators and public-policy analysts have predicted that global corporations will create a world order beyond nation-states (Reich, 1991), that is, a "global village" (Garcia-Zamor and Khator, 1994), a "world government" with "global management" (Wilson, 1994).

Some theorists have even attempted to develop a universal, global theory of public administration (Caiden, 1994). Others have vocally refuted the idea of the end of the state and have argued for the persistence of the nation-states with all the concomitant implications for public administration (Caiden, 1994; Heady, 1996; Scholte 1997).

Hirst and Thompson (1996), Zysman (1996), and Boyer and Drache (1996) have argued that globalization has been exaggerated and that states remain strong in the crucial functions of governance. Some realists in the international relations tradition have argued that "de facto [state] sovereignty has been strengthened rather than weakened" (Krasner 1993, 318). …