Public Administration as a Discipline

Public administration is a field, both practical and theoretical, concerned with governmental best practices. Hence, policies developed and implemented by officials are the main focus of this knowledge domain. One can argue that this concept refers to the management of public programs. Apart from the described elements, public administration can be examined as an academic discipline. The aim of this paper is to explain the specifics of public administration as a discipline, explain the unique viewpoints of it, discuss lenses used to review issues, and evaluate scholarly work in this domain.

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From the perspective of discipline, contemporary public administration scholars aim to examine and develop best practices for the state government using managerial approaches. According to Buwa (2016), Woodrow Wilson is considered to be the first scholarly author who mentioned public administration in the context of academic knowledge in 1887. Since then, many elements and viewpoints regarding this aspect of governance have changed and developed. Currently, the unique overview of the national issues presented by this discipline is the view of the movement responsibilities from a managerial perspective. The efficiency and perception of public organizations by the state’s citizens are emphasized (Basu, 2017). Hence, this discipline avoids politics when aiming to resolve governmental problems. Instead, it aims to use best practices, for example, those used in business, to find a solution. Since the academic foundations of public administration were established recently, it intersects with other knowledge domains, for instance, with political or social sciences (Sarker, 2018). Therefore, public administration scholars can review issues from multiple dimensions and apply concepts that will help find a practical solution, which is the unique viewpoint of this discipline.

People in public administration view problems through the lens of social sciences, managerial practices, politics, philosophy, real-life best practices, and even behavioral sciences. This multidimensional perspective allows evaluating operations of public establishments differently. Current debates revolve around the specifics of this discipline, its practical application, and scope due to its intersection with other knowledge domains. On the other hand, researchers focus on applying methods and strategies from different disciplines for improving practices applied by public organizations.

Scholars in the field write about a variety of debates regarding the strategies for improving public services to help citizens receive excellent services. They conduct first-hand research using data from other scholarly works. As such, these works are mostly descriptive and explain prior research on the matter and approaches that can be used by public administration professionals. However, Jake, Walle, and Kim (2015) argue that empirical research can be conducted in public administration as well. The authors recommend using randomized experiments and intervening in real-life public organizations to improve knowledge in the field.

Outside sources quoted or references by scholars in the field usually total at three per page and include works from different disciplines. One notable example is Woodrow Wilson (1887), who, in his essay about public administration, quoted political philosopher Hegel, theologist Bluntschli, and a German writer Bluntschli. Hence, the use of a large number of books and scholarly papers, including those focusing on social sciences, is common. Another example is a work by Grimmelikhuijsen, Jilke, Olsen, and Tummers (2016) discussing the application of psychology in public administration, which cites over 120 other resources. This signifies the extensive research that scholars in this field conduct to develop best practices and recommendations.

The published knowledge in the field is constructed by combining two elements. Firstly, one examines a theoretical foundation, which can include a public administration concept, a managerial theory, or a best practice in a specific domain. Secondly, one has to evaluate the prospective application of the proposed methodology in a real-life setting. For instance, a review of public administration best practices for developing countries by Sarker (2018) incorporates prior studies in the field that focus on developed countries. Next, the author presents suggestions regarding the adjustments that governmental bodies of developing counties should make to implement these practices. Having practitioner points is vital since this discipline has to provide solutions to real-life governmental issues.

The sources that public administration scholars rely on are mostly articles published by researchers in different fields or books. In general, the authors use reliable scholarly literature when writing their papers. The prior paragraphs provide an understanding that public administration scholars develop their works based on a large number of appraised sources such as books or articles. To evaluate the quality, they review the reliability of the source and its specifics. For instance, works in the fields of philosophy and politics do not necessarily contain scientifically relevant information. However, scholars use well-known theories and approaches to develop by established authors. For instance, the field of behavioral science contains many experiments and empirical evidence that can suggest best practices for public institutions (Grimmelikhuijsen et al., 2016). Overall, the discipline of public administration continues to evolve by incorporating practices from different fields. The main advantage of this domain is the use of a multidisciplinary approach to resolving issues in administrative management and public services.

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Basu, R. (2016). The discipline of public administration today: New perspectives. Indian Journal of Public Administration, 62(1), 1–8. Web.

Buwa, S. (2016). Evolution of public administration as a discipline and Woodrow Wilson’s essay. Web.

Grimmelikhuijsen, S., Jilke, S., Olsen, A. L., & Tummers, L. (2016). Behavioral public administration: Combining insights from public administration and psychology. Public Administration Review, 77(1), 45–56. Web.

Jilke, S., Van de Walle, S., & Kim, S. (2015). Generating usable knowledge through an experimental approach to public administration. Public Administration Review, 76(1), 69-72. Web.

Sarker, N. I. (2018). Public administration as an academic discipline and social science. In A. Farazman (Ed.), Global encyclopedia of public administration, public policy, and governance (pp. 1-9). Basel, Switzerland: Springer.

Wilson, W. (1887). The study of administration. Web.

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