Public Administration Theory Primer / Edition 1

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In the past thirty years public administration has developed more systematic patterns of inquiry about the substance of public organization behavior, public management, and public policy implementation. This work has contributed to an increasing reliability in understanding public administration. The work of public organizations has been examined with improved conceptual methodological and theoretical forms of analysis. The forms of analysis seek to create knowledge that is retraceable, cumulative, and at least at some level, replicable. These forms of analysis aspire to be scientific, using scientific here to mean a kind of formal rationality by which the insights of the next generation. Knowledge, then, becomes collective and cumulative. This is not to suggest that the social world, of which public administration is a part, is as amenable to formal scientific applications as is the physical world. It is not. But it is to suggest that the art and science of public administration should be just that - both art and science. The science and art of policy administration is definable, describable, replicable, and cumulative.

A further purpose of this book is to describe in some detail several theories and analytical approaches that contribute to what we know about policy administration. If we can accept that each approach to the subject of policy administration is guided. At least in some rudimentary way, by a theory or set of theories, the questions are: Which theories or approaches are the most promising, the most influential? Which are the most important now and likely to be the most important in the future? The purpose of this effort is to set out a detailed description of the author's selection of key theories in contemporary public administration in the hope that this will improve the reliability of our knowledge and our understanding of public administration.

This primer is designed to fit into Public Administration Theory courses at the advanced undergraduate level, as well as for courses in the MPA curriculum.

Author Biography: H. George Frederickson is Distinguished Professor of Government at the University of Kansas. Kevin B. Smith is an associate professor of political science at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He has authored or co-authored several books including The Ideology of Education and The Case Against School Choice, and is published widely in academic journals.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“In all honesty, I revere this book. Many graduate students refer to the text as their “bible.” It is the number one recommended resource for preparing students for comprehensive exams. My students regard it with equal deference and appreciation, saying that it is the source that they use to make sense of the hundreds of readings I assign in the seminar. This book is more than just a work of scholarship. It is a companion that provides constant reassurance along the path of my career, and without it I am all but certain I would never have earned my doctoral degree or found inspiration for the research questions I pursue as a faculty member. Words cannot begin to express how many times this book has sparked a research question or helped me to articulate a puzzle to work on […] I would recommend this book in a heartbeat. As mentioned above, this is a succinct introduction to almost every major idea in the discipline of PA in the past 130 years. This book is an absolute necessity for graduate students (especially in comps preparation) and scholars (in fostering new research ideas). The book is an intellectual treasure, headed by a masterful scholar, which provides a sense of comfort and awe.”
Casey LaFrance, Western Illinois University

"The Public Administration Theory Primer is a succinct, clearly written text that engages thematically with historical and contemporary developments within public administration. Its broad topics leave readers with a clear understanding of how and why theoretical lenses emerged, and lead to critical thinking regarding the applicability of some theoretical foundations today.”
Staci M. Zavattaro, University of Central Florida

“I have not found a better book or any other work that comes close to competing with this book for its purpose, which in my mind is to integrate in one volume the intellectual development of the field of public administration.[…] This is the book that I should have used during my doctoral studies in the late 1990s. We studied many theories and concepts, but none of the assigned readings made any effort to integrate and synthesize the theories into a ‘plot’ of some sort. I found myself unable to critically use the material because I was learning ‘facts’ and not how to think—I was working with the pieces of this complex puzzle, but I was not aware of the big picture. It was only after I started teaching that I discovered The Public Administration Theory Primer. It has made my teaching of the subject enjoyable, refreshing, and rewarding. I strongly encourage you to consider the primer if you are a serious student of the interconnectedness of public administration.”
Alejandro Rodriguez, University of Texas, Arlington

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813398044
  • Publisher: Westview Press
  • Publication date: 1/31/2003
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

H. George Frederickson is Distinguished Professor of Public Administration at the University of Kansas.

Kevin B. Smith is professor of political science at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Christopher W. Larimer is associate professor of political science at the University of Northern Iowa.

Michael J. Licari is Associate Provost for Academic Affair, Dean of Graduate College, and associate professor of political science at the University of Northern Iowa.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction: The Possibilities of Theory 1
2 Theories of Political Control of Bureaucracy 15
3 Theories of Bureaucratic Politics 41
4 Public Institutional Theory 67
5 Theories of Public Management 95
6 Postmodern Theory 127
7 Decision Theory 161
8 Rational Choice Theory 185
9 Theories of Governance 207
10 Conclusion: A Bright Future for Theory? 229
References 249
Index 267
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