Public Administration: The State of the Discipline

Ed. Lynn, Naomi and Aaron Wildavsky. Public Administration: The State of the Discipline. London: Chatham House Publishers, 1990.

Public Administration represents an early, and up to this most most useful and complete academic response to the legitimation crisis that has overtaken government, public service, and associated fields of study.

Much of the challenge to public administration stems from the rerooting of cultural, economic and political pediments. It may well be, as one of the founders of contemporary public administration recently told us, that “the foundations have rotted away.” But that is only part of the story. Public administrationists themselves surely must carry a heavy burden of responsibility: for not reading each others’ literatures, pursuing singlemindedly diverging and mutually isolated approaches of study, and failing to produce a unified theory or practice of the field. Political scientists who have alternately abandoned the largest portion of government as being beyond the pale of serious political-science study or imperialistically tried to absorb all management into the concepts of power and politics deserve a measure of blame as well.”

– From a review in The Journal of Politics, Vol. 53, No. 3, Aug. 1991.