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The traditional model of public administration - Essay Example

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The traditional model of public administration

The characteristics of this bureaucratic state were set out most clearly by the German sociologist Max Weber in 1920, with strong echoes of earlier writings by the American Woodrow Wilson (Hughes, 1998):
Further refinement of the traditional model of public administration came through the application of private sector based ideas of 'scientific management', which introduced efficient operational methods based on standardization of tasks, 'one best way' of fitting workers to tasks, and systematic control of tasks, processes, and workers (Hughes, 1998,33-34). These principles were easily adapted to bureaucratic structures. A final addition to the traditional model was the application of the insights of social psychology, in a 'human relations' approach which is often contrasted with the scientific management approach, but in practice sought to achieve greater efficiency of performance too, though by paying attention to the need to motivate workers rather than merely control and direct them (Hughes, 1998, 35-6).
Unfortunately,Unfortunately, the ideal bureaucracy model had never happened in the real life. The critique of the traditional model is based in a comparison of the 'ideal' model of bureaucracy with what happens in real systems of public administration. The following differences can be identified:
i. In many systems there is no clear separation between policy and administration, either in terms of decision-making processes or the respective roles of administrators and politicians, which are often fused together.
ii. Decision-making processes do not, in any case, conform to the rules of technical and economic rationality, but are affected and shaped by processes of conflict, negotiation and exchange between interests both internal and external to the state bureaucracy
iii. Hierarchy and centralization combine with a formal, sometimes slavish adherence to rules and procedures to produce defects (or bureaucratic ...Show more

Summary

The traditional model of public administration is based on the bureaucracy theory. It is characterized as "an administration under the formal control of the political leadership, based on a strictly hierarchical model of bureaucracy, staffed by permanent, neutral and anonymous officials, motivated only by the public interest, serving any governing party equally, and not contributing to policy but merely administrating those policies decided by the politicians." The traditional model of administration was an improvement compared to the earlier one, which was regarded as the replacement of personal administration with an impersonal system based on rules…
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