Whatever Happened to Public Administration?

H. George Frederickson

in The Oxford Handbook of Public Management

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780199226443
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management C

 Whatever Happened to Public Administration?

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  • Business and Management
  • Public Management and Administration
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour


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Concepts of governance as public administration reflect a long-standing theoretical debate in the field, the matter of distinctions between politics, and policy on one hand and policy implementation or administration on the other. Easy dismissal of the politics–administration dichotomy serves to focus the study of public administration, particularly by some governance theorist, on the constitutional and political context of the organization and management of the territorial state or jurisdiction. From this perspective governance becomes steering and public administration becomes rowing, a lesser phenomenon in the scholarly pecking order, not to mention a lesser subject in governance. Public administration, thus understood, is the work that governments contract-out, leaving governance as the subject of our study. Although the lines between politics, policy, and administration are often fuzzy and changing, and although there is not a politics–administration dichotomy, it is nevertheless important to understand the empirical distinctions between political and administrative phenomena.

Keywords: governance; public administration; policy implementation; politics–administration dichotomy; contract-out; politics

Article.  9315 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Public Management and Administration ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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