scope of public administration
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In modern times, public administration has a pivotal role. There are many discussions about the scope of public administration. In the definition of public administration, we come across viewpoints, taking the broader view taking the entire complex of all the three branches of the government; and the other taking narrow view by including only managerial part of the executive branch of government work. The differences of opinion center around whether the administration is mere execution of an application of policy or is a factor in the formulation of policy also.

Based on these differences, there are broadly two views about the scope of public administration. These are: 
1. The POSDCORB View of Public Administration, and 
2. The Subject Matter View

THE ‘POSDCORB’ VIEW OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

This view being narrower takes into account the only executive branch of the government. Henry Fayol, L. Urwick, and Luther Gulick are supporters of this view.

Henri Fayol believes that the main categories of Administration include Planning, Organisation, Command, Coordination, and Control.

L. Urwick has mentioned seven elements of administration and has summed up these elements in the acronym ‘POSDCORB’ each letter of which implies one element of administration. He explains these seven elements of administration in the following way:

P-Planning

That is working out in broad outline the things that need to be done and the methods for doing them to accomplish the purpose set for the enterprise.

O-Organizing

This means the establishment of the formal structure of authority through which work sub-divisions are arranged, defined, and coordinated for the defined objective.

S-Staffing 

This means all personnel function of bringing in and training the staff and maintaining favorable conditions of work.

D-Directing

It is the continuous task of making decisions and embodying them in specific and general orders and instructions and serving as the leader of the enterprise.

CO-Coordinating

This means the all-important duty of interrelating the work of various divisions, sections, and other parts of the organization.

R-Reporting

That is keeping informed those to whom the executive is responsible as to what is going on. This includes keeping everybody to inform records, research, and inspection.

B-Budgeting 

This means all that goes with budgeting in the form of fiscal planning, accounting, and control.

THE SUBJECT MATTER VIEW

POSDCORB view of the scope of public administration was acceptable for quite a long time but with changing system of governance in recent times, the scope of public administration has widened a lot.

It was then realized that the POSDCORB cannot define the scope of public administration as it represents only tools of administration whereas the real core of administration consists of various services performed for the people like defense, health, agriculture, education, etc. These services have specialized techniques that are not covered by POSDCORB activities. For example, food and agriculture administration has it’s found the technique of production distribution extension, etc which are are not covered by POSDCORB.

It was also realized that it the common techniques of management are very often influenced by the subject matter of the services to be rendered by a particular department of the government, for example, the organization for the maintenance of law and order is very much different from the organization for education, public health, agriculture.

Therefore the emphasis on the subject matter cannot be neglected. In short, it can be said that there is no need to reject either of these views regarding the scope of public administration.

The two views about the scope of public administration have been discussed above. It is, however, not necessary to accept only one of them to the exclusion of the other. Just as the human organ has both anatomy and physiology of its own, the public administration has the common techniques of POSDCORB as its skeleton and the specialized methods of various programs as its muscles and sinews. Without either of them, the public administration cannot function.

Here we can take a quote from Lewis Meriam:

Public Administration is an instrument with two blades like a pair of scissors. One blade may be a knowledge of the fields covered by POSDCORB, the other blade is knowledge of the subject matter in which these techniques are applied. Both blades must be good to make an effective tool.

Similarly, M.E. Dimock observed, “Administration is concerned with ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the government. The ‘what’ is the subject matter, the technical knowledge of a field, which enables the administrator to perform its tasks. The ‘how’ is the technique of management, the principles according to which the cooperative programs are carried out to success. Each is indispensable, together they form the synthesis called administration.”

Reconciling the two views, the scope of public administration ought to include – 

(i) Administrative Theory – which is general and abstract and largely consists of POSDCORB techniques common to all administration.

(ii) The study of the concrete application of the common administrative activity, such as agriculture, animal husbandry, public health, social welfare, defense, etc.

In addition, the scope of public administration should also include the administrative organization and methods at different levels of government, such as local administration, national administration, and international administration. It may also include the study of the administrative system in different countries and under different forms of philosophies of government.

READ ALSO:

MEANING AND DEFINITION OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
PUBLIC AND PRIVATE ADMINISTRATION
WOODROW WILSON’S VIEW ON PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
SIGNIFICANCE OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
NATURE OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
SCOPE OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION

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