Governments are complex organizations with hierarchies and forms of control and management. For efficient operation, their activities should be based on practices supported by empirical evidence. Public administration is an academic discipline that constitutes the basis for effective public policies and their implementation. This paper will discuss what public administration is, what jobs exist in the field, and what changes may come in the future.
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Public administration can be viewed from two different perspectives – practical and academic. It is an implementation of the government’s public policy and a discipline that yields academic knowledge and frameworks while studying this implementation (Ongaro, 2020). Another goal of public administration from a theoretical perspective is to prepare professionals for the work in civil service (Ongaro, 2020). Individuals with a degree in public administration can work at a variety of government levels, including budgeting, human resources, public communications, and law. Due to the fact that governments have to handle a diverse range of concerns, public administration is not an isolated field. Instead, it is a mix of management, accounting, ethics, and other studies with the aim of improving the lives of citizens and ensuring stable government function.
Policy-making is central to public administration because it is the means through which governments interact with citizens. Therefore, decision-making is a significant component of the field, and students preparing for public administration roles often spend time studying public behavior and response to various government decisions. For instance, the US public was outraged by the country’s participation in the Vietnam War and lost confidence in the government (Hughes, 2016). Many people called for changes in the administration because of their perceived inefficacy (Hughes, 2016). Along with policy analysis, the core elements of public administration are organizational theory, ethics, budgeting, and human resource management (Ongaro, 2020). This broadness of the field requires professionals to be proficient in multiple disciplines.
Where I Fit
The multi-disciplinary nature of public administration means that professionals in this field may work on a broad range of project types. For instance, some individuals work designing and facilitating social services, while others are responsible for public safety. Although I study all aspects of public administration, I am more inclined toward economic development in communities. The roles that I will be able to take are policy analysis regarding the local economy, facilitation of employment, and ensuring that people have educational opportunities to be able to compete for open jobs. These concerns should be addressed both at the federal and local levels. Since most public administration jobs are filled on a non-election basis despite being connected to politics, my career will start at a local level. When I have enough experience and expertise, I can propose my candidacy for an elected position to work on issues of a larger scale.
The ultimate goal of public administration, despite the vastness of the field, is to make decisions that benefit communities. Therefore, aside from having expertise in macroeconomics, policy analysis, and organizational theory, I should have a solid base in ethics. Decisions should not be based on guessing and instead should rely on empirical evidence and ethical concerns. Walker et al. (2019) suggest a replication process that can bring scientific methods to the field of public administration. My responsibility, in this context, is to get acquainted with such techniques to be able to make sound decisions as a professional in the public sector.
The field of public administration has changed significantly for the last several centuries. Before the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883, non-elected government jobs would be disseminated among companions and friends of a winning political party (Waller, 2020). Many labeled this principle as a spoils system because people would get civil service jobs without any competition (Waller, 2020). The act required that the majority of federal positions are awarded based on the results of entrance exams and candidate qualification (Waller, 2020). This reform meant that public administration was becoming an academic discipline instead of being a patronage-based profession (Waller, 2020). Also, it created a clear division between politics and civil service. Contemporary scholars today are calling for further changes in the field. Most people believe that the inefficiency of governments is caused by bureaucracy, and changes will come only when public administration will draw experiences from the private sector (Waller, 2020). In other words, public administration should be based on the same principles that are driving organizations in the private sector. One of the examples is the competition between different corporations in terms of technological advancements.
Public administration is an extensive subject both in academia and practice. It encompasses operations in the public sector and designing and implementing policies aimed at improving the lives of communities. Therefore, ethical and evidence-based decision-making is critical in public administration. For improved efficacy, some people are suggesting the discipline to start using the knowledge commonly applied in the private sector. Competition and strive for improvement can lead to efficiency and effectiveness among government organizations.
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Hughes, R. (2016). The American south and the Vietnam war: Belligerence, protest, and agony in Dixie. Journal of American History, 103(2), 541-542. Web.
Ongaro, E. (2020). Philosophy and public administration: An introduction (2nd ed.). Edward Elgar Publishing. Web.
Waller, I. (2020). The Pendleton Act: Time for a change. Tenor of Our Times, 9(1), 49-58.
Walker, R. M., Brewer, G. A., Lee, M. J., Petrovsky, N., & Van Witteloostuijn, A. (2019). Best practice recommendations for replicating experiments in public administration. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 29(4), 609-626. Web.