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Take Away Point Memo on Intellectual Crisis of Public Administration

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Several concepts by Vincent Ostom in his book The Intellectual Crisis of Public Administration struck and appeal to me intellectually. These concepts include:

  • Bureaucratic administration only concentrates power to the office of the executives
  • Concentration of power to the executives inevitably leads to abuses
  • It is important to abandon the traditional theory of public administration that was defined by Max Weber and Woodrow Wilson as they only apply to local organizations or organizations with limited number of people.
  • Democratic administration helps practitioners of public administration to view members of the public as their central focus
  • Democratic administration makes public servants to refuse to obey unlawful commands from their masters.

The above rationale was chosen for my take-away due to several reasons. Bureaucratic administration only concentrates power to the executives and presidents of public administration offices (Ostom, 2008). The presidents are given power of formulating and implementing policies without involving the employees or servants in the administration. In addition, the executives are given the mandate of changing  routine and cultures of public administration without involving the employees. Concentration of power to the executives leads to abuse of power. In bureaucratic administration, nobody has the right of questioning or reviewing the work done by the executives. The executives end up abusing power by misappropriating funds. In addition, the executives sometimes abuse their power by exceeding the scope of their authority. Critics argue that it is not logic for the Congress to pass laws and trust political appointees to implement them as most public administrations still practice bureaucracy. Although Congress passed ObamaCare, people fear that the bureaucratic administrations creating rules for its implementation are accountable to nobody.

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Traditional theories of Max Weber and Woodrow Wilson do not apply to modern organizations (Ostom, 2008). Max Weber and Woodrow Wilson emphasize on observation of rules while making decisions. However, organizations that are successful in the modern world allow for flexibility of rules in an attempt of encouraging innovation while making critical organization’s decisions. Democratic administration is the only form of administration that helps the rights of all members of the public to be observed effectively. In democratic administration, the practitioners of public administration view the members of the public as their central focus. Due to this, they always provide goods and services that aim at satisfy the needs of the public. In addition, they listen to complaints brought forward by the public and try to amend their services to improve the level of public satisfaction. In democratic administration, the public are given the right of raising their own ideas and comments regarding the formulation of new policies without fearing criticisms from the authorities. In my profession, the managers try to practice democratic administration by involving us in major decisions that may affect the normal running of our organization. In addition, we are always encouraged to raise innovative ideas on how we can change the culture of our organization so that it allows participatory leadership.

Democratic administration also makes public servants to refuse following unlawful commands from their masters. Some managers only think of financial gains of a public administration. They sometimes fail to observe ethics so that the organization can make huge financial gains. In democratic administration, the servants have a right of refusing to implement commands that are contrary to their ethics and beliefs. In addition, the servants have a right of refusing bribes that the executives may offer to make them commit fraud. Accountability and transparency is thus maintained in public administration.

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