The approaches to the study of Public administration can be categorized from many angles such as normative approach and empirical approach. Normative approach concentrates on what public administration should be. Empirical approach sets its eyes on description and analysis of actual administrative Situations. Another classification of approaches is based upon the objects of study the individual scholar seeks to emphasize, such as;
- Philosophical approach
- Legal approach
- Historical approach
- Scientific approach
- Case Method Approach
- Institutional and Structural Approach
- Behavioural Approach
The Philosophical approach takes within its purview all aspects of administrative activities. Its goal is to find out and enunciate the principles or ‘ideals’ underlying these activities. This approach is found in Locke’s ‘Treatise on civil Government’, Plato’s ‘Republic’, ‘Hobbes’, ‘Leviathan’, etc. The philosophical approach is perhaps the oldest approach to public administration as of all other social sciences.
The legal approach is the systematically formulated approach and traces its ancestry to the European tradition of rooting Public administration in law. Public administration was considered to be a part of law, concentrating on legally prescribed structure and organization of Public authorities. This approach was formed at a time when the functions of the state were narrowly limited and simple in nature. The legal or juristic method is mostly used in France, Germany, and Belgium. These countries have a long tradition of administrative law. The administrative law is an important branch of Public law and is conceived in quite broad terms so as to include the organization and functions of public authorities and with the problem of their correlation, powers and responsibilities. Public administration is considered to be a part of administrative law and as such it is studied in the legal framework. In India also the administrative study was mainly preoccupied with the legal foundations of administrative authority and its procedures and was narrower in its scope than that of European continent because there law itself was conceived in broad sociological terms whereas in India, it had a narrow juristic connotation.
The historical approach to the study of public administration Seeks to recreate a segment of history. It Studies the public administration of the past with a particular time span, organizing and interpreting the information in a Chronological order. This approach naturally commands a powerful attraction in a society having rich past and can be valuable in identifying the uniqueness of the administrative system.
Public administration like many other social sciences makes use of the inductive method of proceeding from particular to general through observation for collecting the data, classification of data and verification of the hypotheses. The scientific management movement gave a great fillip to the use of this method in the development of effective techniques of organization and management and of budgeting and supply. Administration was separated from politics. It was treated as a mechanical organization and was subjected to the rigours of laws of mechanics. Although the Study of public administration has now passed off the Stage of scientific management fad, many activities of the office management, accounting and control of material and supply are still determined on the scientific principles. Measurement of work, time and motion studies, work flow charts, cost accounting and opinion sampling and polls are the techniques based on the Scientific and technical method for the solution of administrative problems.
Case Method Approach
A case is a narration of what has actually taken place in administration, keeping in fact the context and all relevant dimensions. Ably, handled, the case method approach is a sensitive one, seeking as it does to reconstruct the administrative realities and gives to students a flavour of the administrative Process. The case approach has been motivated by a commitment to the objectives and methods of social sciences. It has been shaped also by a considerable sensitivity to traditional concerns of humanities and by practical interest in pedagogy as against research. The case method to the study of public administration began to be popularized in the thirties. The case method has come to stay in public administration, but it cannot become the dominant approach. In Public administration, case study is essentially historical method. It is a method in which an administrative decision, in any given question or issue, is made the focal point for historical exposition. Its aim is to point out as to what factors or considerations- political, economical, and personal or any other-influence the decision of the administrator and also to know the process of decision or policy-making. The case as presented to the student in the file on monograph comprises every possible aspect of the situation. It is best presented as a running account embodying explanations of various procedures as they occur in relation to the circumstances. It provides the student with indications concerning the legislative and institutional framework within which the problem to be solved by the administrative agencies arises. It also, wherever possible contains notes to help the analyst understand the psychological back-ground, the characters of the people who took part in the case, the tensions among the staff of the administrative organization concerned, and other factors. The account as a whole is intended to reconstruct and explain, with reference to the greatest number of identifiable factors, the initiation, procedure and conclusion of the operation concerned and more specially, the process of formalizing the administrative decision. The case histories are prepared with the help of relevant documents and files, inquiries and interviews with officers concerned and all other sources of the case. ‘Public Administration and policy Administration’ published by the interuniversity case programme of the United States was a pioneering use of this technique. Following this several national institutes of public administration of various countries have launched their own study programme. Early in the sixties the Indian Institute of Public Administration (I.I.P.A) brought out three books on case studies the I.I.P.A and the National Academy of Administration have prepared about eighty case studies in memography form for their training use. The I.I.P.A recently published four more volumes of its case Studies. Some of the limitations of this that, re-living another person’s life through case studies never succeed. Secondly, the most significant part of a decision is the agony of it; one cannot re-lire the agony anxiety and put himself in another individual’s position.
Institutional and structural Approach
This approach to the study of public administration is the oldest and in point of number, it has the largest following. But it is least homogenous of all schools of public administration as it includes among its protagonists, teachers and research workers with varied training, ranging from political scientist to specialists in scientific management techniques. The common features of this school which distinguishes it from other schools of administrative thought. These features are of follows
- The followers of this school took policy administration dichotomy quite seriously. They defined the task of administration as nonpolitical or technical which lay merely in carrying out the will of political authority by either neutral means. They directed all their efforts to discover ‘principles’ of public administration.
- The early work of this school is characterized by an empirical and pragmatic approach. Their sole aim was to describe a set of facts and not to build any theories. This view prevails particularly in United States during the period between the two world wars and its greatest exponents were Leonard.D.White and Luther Gulick.
Since the fifties of the last century, there has been a shift in this approach. Although the study has retained its institutional character, yet the policy administration dichotomy has been qualified after being found too hasty. More attention is now being given to the normative aspects of public administration and administration is being viewed as an element in political theory and the accepted political Values. Scholars like John. M. Gaus and Paul Appleby of this school have frankly given up the technical view of public administration and they approach public administration from the broad political standpoint.
This approach examines public administration by studying individual and collective human behavior in administrative situation. It brings to bear upon administrative problems on inter-disciplinary approach which includes Sociology, individual and social psychology and cultural anthropology. Originated in the United States this approach focuses on the actual behavior of persons and groups in organizations and has four Characters which are of follows
- The increased attention to the individual and his relationship to the administrative organization in which scientific-management approach tended to consider him rather as a thing or a means, without taking in to account the different aspects of his personality and his relationship to interests and social group other than the administrative organization in which he worked. Increased attention to the individual in administration is based on more realistic research concerning motivation, decision making process and nature of authority.
- Administration is studied as a social system with the result that whereas formerly attention was concentrated exclusive on formal and rational relationships of the organization, now informal relationships of men in the organization receive equal attention.
- On account of these developments, more importance is given to communication. This is understandable because an administration is described as a complex aggregate of human relations. Under the traditional approaches the only recognized means of communication were the formal orders and circulars issued by the superior to the subordinates and reports and returns submitted by the subordinates to their superiors. But under the new approach, the informal means of contact and communication receive of as much attention as the formal ones.
- Replacement of the theory of Sovereignty by that of legitimacy. The concept of political sovereignty had given birth to the theories of hierarchical structure, line of authority, chain of command, delegation and others. Under the new approach, there is an increasing tendency to analyse the reason why given persons, considered individually and collectively, feel that they must obey orders. Thus emphasis is put on administrative leadership and motivation.
In this method a new approach is followed by comparing the behavioral pattern of public administration in different countries, this comparative method has been used in studying the contemporary system of government and administration. The Behavioural science and the case study approach has impacted a distinct shift in the techniques of comparative approach in which the normative study of comparative administration merged gradually into the empirical and explanatory writings on different administrative systems. The recent trend is towards a nomothetic approach whereas earlier it was towards ideographic approach. Ideographic approach showed interest in concrete situations, case studies, area information and particular facts while the present emphasis is on theory or testable propositions which assert regularities of behavior and correlation between variables. The new trend involves a greater interest in the environment factors as they interact with public administration. It is now realized that these factors conditions and are conditioned by governmental behavior and hence their study is an essential part of study of public administration.
The Consensus Approach
The principles of public administration developed at the time were devices suggested to achieve efficiency. This efficiency-oriented approach coupled with the anti- patronage movement was strengthened by the view that policy making and policy implementing are two different things. Policy –determining was considered to be field of politics, and policy-implementation, the field of administration. It is now accepted that administration is involved in policy formulation also. It is now wrong to say that policies can be formulated without the advice or assistance of administrative staff .The whole theory of ‘delegated legislation’ disproved the dichotomy between politics and administration. According to Appleby,” Public administration is policy-making”. It is not autonomous, exclusive or isolated policy-making. It is policy-making on a field where mighty forces contend- forces engendered in any society. Further, public administration cannot be fruitfully studied apart from its political and social setting.
The Structural approach concentrated on the description of the administrative structure of the government bodies. This approach emphasizes the study of PODSCORB techniques of administration. But the administrative structure and techniques cannot be studied without proper reference to the environment in which public administration is working as well as the human factor. According to the scientific management approach, the problems of the public administration should be studied by the methods and spirit of science. Taylor concentrated on the work methods, machines and materials. He was concerned with the questions of mechanical efficiency. Scientific management taking efficiency as the objective, views administration as a technical problem concerned basically with the division of labour and specialization of functions. This approach is considered defective because it ignores the human elements in administration.
The socio-psychological approach or the Behavioural approach believes that public administration should be concerned with the study of human behavior in organization and operations of the various organizations. According to Simon decision making is the most important activity of administration. Human beings who work in an organization have aspirations and desires. Their behavior is conditioned by their psychology, motives and social environment. The administrative science should study these ‘facts’ of behavior without getting involved in the question of ‘values’. This new approach is universalistic in character and its purpose is to build a system of interlocking generalizations about how organizations actually behave in these organizations.
The approaches to the study of public administration can be summarized as
- Public administration was studied from the background of administrative law .The emphasis in this jusrisdical approach is on formal structures both constitutional and administrative. It has been concerned with officers, with duties, limitations, prerogatives and disabilities of officers and with legal, litigation and rights of Citizen.
- In the comparative public administration approach stimulated by the United Nations, the emphasis is on understanding the problems of administration operating under different socio –political and cultural settings.
- Another approach is to study public administration in relation to political parties and pressure groups.
- Historical approach is also a fascinating area of study. Many lessons can be learnt by studying the history of administration.
- Institutional approach is to study the structure. It deals with the study of organs of the State.
- The Behavioural approach claims to explain administrative processes that are common to many forms of organization. The focus is on human behavior, including Psychology, Sociology and anthropology.
The Post War Trend of Public administration has been:
- The assault upon the politics –administration dichotomy
- The assault upon the claims to science and to universal principles of administration, and
- Sociological studies of bureaucracy.