The emergence of New Public Administration (NPA) can be traced back to the late 1960s when the American society appeared to be in a state of disruption, dissolution, and breakdown. At that time world was facing serious economic and social problems. Unemployment, poverty, population, etc., we’re increasing very rapidly and it was considered that these problems were due to the inefficiency of the administrator. It was thought that the machinery of public administration was not responding to the needs of the people as it was considered that policy formulation was an area for the political leaders, while the administrators have to only implement the policy so framed. Hence, there arose a need to rethink the objective and scope of public administration and the concept of New Public Administration emerged as a result thereof.

Nigro and Nigro observe: “While there is no doctrine to which all persons associated with the new public administration subscribe, most emphasize the principle of social equity – the realization of which they feel should be the purpose of public administration. They believe that in the past Public Administration has neglected the question of values concerning the social purposes of government and that public officials have emphasized efficiency and economy of execution, often at the expense of social equity. These officials, they say, profess neutrality but in fact have been far from neutral, even catering to special interests.”

FEATURES OF NPA

NPA focuses chiefly on the following things:

(i) Change and Administrative Responsiveness i.e. operational flexibility and organizational adaptability to meet the environmental change should be in-built in the administrative system.

(ii) Relevance/Rationality of changes – i.e. people should see changes as relevant meaning thereby that changes should be specific to need of the area and the needs of the people.

Earlier approaches to NPA considered that rationality in decisions should be from

(iii) NPA advocates emphasis on Management – worker relations. There should be equal emphasis both on efficiency and human considerations. The new approach has to satisfy both the efficiency and the human relations criterion to achieve success.

(iv) NPA suggests that small decentralized and flexible hierarchies in organizational structures are more suitable in view of the increasing role of the administration.

(v) Since public affairs are highly varied and complex, no single approach in the study of public administration out of various approaches, namely management approach, human relations approach, political approach, public-choice approach, etc., would be adequate to guide the actions of administrator. Hence education in public administration should be heterogeneous and wide-based, as is advocated by NPA.

(vi) Three Anti-goals of NPA: NPA has advocated 3 anti-goals and hence its literature is called “anti-positivist”. These are :

(a) Rejecting a definition of public administration as value-free i.e. public administration should be value-oriented since not all the inclinations to the values are bad and hence are desirable at some of the time.
(b) Rejecting a rationalist and perhaps deterministic view of humankind sine human-behavior is quite unpredictable. Public Administration studies should hence focus on what the administration should “become” instead of focusing on what the administration should “be”.
(c) Rejecting “Politics – Administration Dichotomy” since administrators today are involved in policy formulation and policy implementation at all stages.

(vii) Four Goals of NPA: NPA advocates 4 goals to be achieved in the future namely – Relevance, Values, Equity, and Change.

RELEVANCE: Contemporary Public Administration has been adversely criticized as it had done nothing to solve the problems and issues confronting society. In view of this, the present concept of NPA suggests that administrators should deal explicitly with the political and normative implications of all the administrative actions. In this regard relevance of administrative actions not only to the administration but also to the public should be kept in mind.
VALUE: NPA rejects procedural neutrality and emphasizes that public officials have to advocate the interests of the disadvantaged people. However, emphasis on personal values that benefit the elite sections of the societies should be rejected.
SOCIAL EQUITY: A public administration system that fails to work for the changes and fails to redress the grievance of the minorities is likely to be eventually used to suppress those minorities. Hence the goal of administration should be to bring about social equity and thereby harmony and social integration in the society.
CHANGE: Change is necessary to prevent Public Administration from coming under the dominance of the powerful interest groups. Now the question arises as to what changes are desirable and what should be the direction of these changes? In NPA, these changes should bring about social equity and the changes brought about should suit the future needs.

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