Reevaluating Executive‐Centered Public Administrative Theory

David H. Rosenbloom

in The Oxford Handbook of American Bureaucracy

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199238958
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

Reevaluating Executive‐Centered Public Administrative Theory

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This article describes how presidents and public administration scholars have embraced executive-centered public administration despite its questionable constitutionality. It concentrates the historical development and limitations of executive-centered public administrative doctrine as applied to the U.S. federal government's domestic policy arenas. It then shows how the push for executive-centered public administration led to an ineluctable push-back from the legislative and judicial branches of government in a system of separate institutions sharing power. Chronicled next are the efforts of the George W. Bush administration to use the so-called unitary executive branch theory as the epitome of executive-centered public administration to decouple itself from separation-of-powers constraints while confirming the adage that one should be careful what one wishes for. The article finally presents a challenge for students of American bureaucracy to develop an administrative theory that is more suited to U.S. constitutional principles.

Keywords: executive-centered public administration; U.S. federal government; domestic policy; George W. Bush; unitary executive branch theory; American bureaucracy

Article.  11656 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Institutions

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