Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

An Analysis on Development of Public Administration Study in Western Countries

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

An Analysis on Development of Public Administration Study in Western Countries

Article excerpt


Public administration study has been conducted for several hundred years in western countries, while the countries in different areas presenting diverse development paths and research approaches. Continental European countries represented by France and Germany which fail to get rid of the influence of jurisprudence till now as yet due to the close integration of early study of public administration and administrative law, embody the value orientation of nationalism and features of self-reform. Nevertheless, public administration study in countries like Britain and the Unite States shows a tendency of managerialism with strong characteristic and tendency of comparative research.

Key Words: Pubic administration; Public administration study; Administrative model; The new right


Political system started with the appearance of government. Public administration emerges as the times require because political system has to form the government and require government's corresponding behavior in order to realize its goals. Therefore, public administration, which emerged at the same time when government appeared, has a long history. However, as a special field of study, it started rather late. Public administration has gradually become an academic field and major since German scholars, in the 1900s, tried to discuss cameralism, a theory of systematical management of government affairs. Public administration studies began to appear in the writings of Prussian cameralists in the 18th century and those of researchers in the 19th century, although these studies "tended to emphasize issues related to the continental system of administrative law". This paper aims to discuss the diverse development paths and characteristics of study of public administration conducted in western countries by reviewing the administration study development in both continental European and AngloAmerican countries.


In European continent, state evolution and public administration development has been closely related since the Middle Ages. During the 16th and 17th centuries, with the formation of national states and sharp rise of national significance, governments' duties in European countries were gradually enhanced with increasingly sophisticated contents, involving military, economic and social fields. Along with the ever-growing expansion of government size, the number of governmental administrative staff increased accordingly. In this context, fields and majors related to national state structure, public personnel training and public office management began to appear in continental European universities, and the corresponding professorships were set as well. At the end of the 18th century, almost all of the universities in Germany had set such research fields and professorships. Although it didn't set independent public administrative courses and corresponding professorships yet, France, in the same way, started to discuss and seek for development in this field. Emergence of the "state" concept in this period helped to push forward the development of public administration and public administrative study in Germany and France.

In continental European countries, textbooks and journals on public administration constantly appeared and spread at the end of the 18th century. In this respect, the United States is a whole century late.

In the end of the 18th century, French Revolution triggered the transformation of Europe nations and promoted the development of public administration in European countries. The abolishment of absolute monarchy drove European countries to build the rule by law, requiring the government to protect citizens' rights and freedom; as a result, constructing and strengthening legal system were demanded. Thus, the public administration study evolved into administrative law study. In the middle of the 19th century, a new type of public administration emerged in continental European countries. …

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