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Revitalizing public administration

Gerald E. Caiden

Current situation of public administration is analyzed, as seen from different world perspectives. Shortcomings in theory and practice of public administration are considered. Main issues to strengthen and develop public administration from a global perspective are stated.

Public administration has been highly questioned over the last few decades. It has been impaired because significant areas of it have been intellectually privatized. The excesses of collectivism and public administration's inability to prove its superiority to private administration have also affected this field of study.

The role of the administrative state is being discussed. After a century of uninterrupted growth, it can be foreseen that the administrative state will shed activities that perhaps it should never have attempted at all, although there are activities reserved for the exclusive performance of public administration. These would include law making, foreign relations, control of the armed services, public health, and education.

According to the International Monetary Fund, indebted countries must reduce their public activities because they cannot get credit anywhere. The debt crisis draws attention to a budget reform, to increase efficiency and effectiveness in this field.

When analyzing whether the public gets the best value for its money, the outcomes are disappointing. Value-for-Money (VFM) considerations have to enter calculations in policymaking. Tackling bureaupathologies is another substantial element to overcome the current situation.

Tackling and reducing public maladministration would not necessarily raise the performance of public administration. In this regard, the following factors must be considered: debureaucratization, public accountability, public ethics, complaint handling, public participation, enhancing status, enlarging research.

Globalization poses new intellectual challenges that must overcome the traditional idea of the nation. Public administration, after focussing on country specific systems and cultures, has been lagged behind such fields of study as political science, social science and economics. The country specific have to be placed within a global context and related to universalistic frameworks. Without adequate globalization, public administration will continue among the second rank academically and will fail to reach its potential professionally.

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