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
"The student new to Public Administration might be struck by the longstanding disciplinary commitment to grounding empirical observation in theoretical frameworks. This makes The Public Administration Theory Primer an essential companion for new explorers or old hands in the field. Providing an essential map—complete with commentary on roadside attractions and directions through scenic by-ways—the authors not only introduce core bodies of theory and their development, they never fail to assess the applicability of each. The reader will be left with a strong sense of the landscape and good idea of where to head for an extended exploration."
Jonathan GS Koppell, Director, ASU School of Public Affairs, Lattie and Elva Coor Presidential Chair

"The Public Administration Theory Primer is the perfect starting point for any student of public administration. It provides a well documented overview of an exceptional range of topics. It is the perfect Christmas gift for the graduate student in your life."
Kenneth Meier, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Texas A&M University and Professor of Public Mangement, Cardiff University in Wales

Praise for the First Edition:

"Frederickson and Smith have drawn a road map of the field’s big questions—and the most promising directions for resolving them. It’s an important and lively contribution to the debate about the future of public administration theory."
Donald F. Kettl, University of Wisconsin, Madison

"By their shrewd selection of proven and emerging scholarship, Frederickson and Smith show the extent to which the study of public administration is and must be founded on theory. In their treatment, public administration has become an inspiration and a forum for some of the best thinking in the social and behavioral sciences."
Laurence E. Lynn, Jr., Texas A&M University

"Much of the administrative theory literature is partial, polemical and difficult to penetrate. This volume is very different from that pattern. It provides the reader with a road map to access a broad range of theories. It unpacks the controversies in the field and allows the reader to gain a sense of the intellectual debates surrounding this topic."
Beryl Radin, University of Baltimore

"This book proves there is nothing as practical as a good theory. The Public Administration Theory Primer is an important addition to the field."
Brinton Milward, University of Arizona

"[This] book is remarkable, and welcome, for the absence of the defensiveness and ambivalence one finds in the field toward theories originating outside of public administration."
Public Administration Review

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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 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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