(Sample Material) Public Administration Study Kit: Chapter 1 - Introduction: New Public Administration

Sample Material of Public Administration Study Kit (Paper - I)

Chapter I - Introduction: New Public Administration


“New Public Administration” (NPA) idiom has broken fresh ground and imparted new substance to the discipline of Public Administration. It is no more ‘new’. Yet in the absence of any ‘newer’ Public Administration, it continues to be one of the latest landmarks in Public Administration. The movement has all but disappeared, though some of its scholars continue to subscribe to its basic premises of relevance, activism and equity. Having its source in the intellectual ferment and socio-political turbulence that marked the American life in the middle and the late 1960s, it has crept into the 1970s and after.

Causes of Genesis

By the end of 1960s the American society appeared to be in a state of disruption, dissolution and breakdown. The traditional Public Administration had shown its weaknesses in understanding the agony of the present social crisis. Its “acknowledged glacial pace and apparent remoteness”, could not meet the demands that have arisen in the contexts of social and economic crises. If failed to touch the fear of the nuclear bomb, mounting internal cleavages in the United States, the war in Vietnam that violated the moral conscience of the world, devastating population explosion, dangerous pollution of environment, dissension of racial and economic origin, increasing social conflict and deepening fears and anxieties about the future.

The term ‘New Public Administration’ was used to describe new philosophical outlook for Public Administration The traditional dogmas of Public Administration-’efficiency’ and ‘economy’ were found inadequate and incomplete goals of administrative activity. It began to be said that efficiency is not the soul of Public Administration. Man is the focal point of all” administrative activity who cannot be subjected to the mechanical test of efficiency. So the administration must be human being oriented and its approach shou1d be valuebased. It pleads for more relevance research; to describe and to act so as to improve lie according to human criteria. “New Public Administration is a movement inspired by younger scholars who challenged several tenets administration,” primarily the emphasis value neutrality in research and practice and appealed to scholars to take more provocative role guided not only by the search for efficiency but by a sensitivity to the forces of change, the needs of the client and the problems of social equity in service delivery.”

The major landmarks in the growth and emergence of New Public Administration are the following:

  1. The Honey Report on Higher Education for Public Service, 1967.
  2. The Philadelphia Conference on the Theory and Practice of Public Administration, 1967.
  3. The Minnowbrook Conference, 1968.
  4. Publication of "Toward a New Public Administration: The Minnowbrook Perspective" (edited by Frank Marini), 1971.
  5. Publication of "Publication Administration in a Time of turbulence" (edited by Dwight Waldo), 1971.

1. The Honey Report on Higher Education for Public Service, 1967

It was in 1966 that John Honey of Syracuse University undertook an evaluative study of Pubic Administration as a field of study in the U.S. Universities. The Honey report, submitted in 1967 identified four problems confronting the discipline which needed immediate action: (1) Inadequate funds at the disposal of eh discipline; (2) Uncertainly and confusion over the status of the discipline (Is it a discipline, a science, or a professions); (3) Institutional shortcoming (inadequacy of Public Administration departments); (4) Lack of communication between Public Administration scholars and the practicing administrators.

It was this report which aroused considerable interest in U.S. Universities. It was however, found wanting in several respects. It did not say anything about the role of Public Administration in crisis ridden society of the period. However, the report became the basis of discussions for the wider issue of the role of Public Administration in solving and creating social awareness.

2. The Philadelphia Conference on the Theory and Practice of Public Administration, 1967

In 1967 The American Academy of Political and Social Science organized a conference in Philadelphia under the chairmanship of James C. Charles worth.

Major viewpoints expressed in the deliberations of the conference are:

(1) The scope of the subject should remain flexible to facilitate its growth. The growth in the dimensions and functions of the administration is a continuous Process, it would be erroneous to that the demarcate rigidly the boundaries of the study of Public Administration.

(2) Again, it being obvious that administrators are involved in policy making process as advisers and facilitators besides being primarily concerned with policy implementation, the dichotomy between policy and administration and therefore between the study of government and study of Public Administration is meaningless.

(3) Too much emphasis on perfection of hierarchy and internal processes in administrative organisations results in rigidities in administrative performance which detract from its relevance and efficacy in rapidly changing environments; organizational innovations and management flexibility are therefore appropriate.

(4) The discipline and practice of Public Administration should pay increased attention to the social problems of urban squalor, unemployment, poverty, environmental pollution and degradation.

(5) There are great socio-economic disparities, hence social equity should be given due attention. For promoting equity as an administrative value along with the existing values of efficiency and accountability, as well as for improving administrative responsiveness, people’s participation in administrative decision making and activities should be institutionally provided. There was, however, no agreed definitions of Public Adminisration, yet Philadelphia Conference highlighted the importance of Public Administration in a braod philosophic context.


The essence of the Minnowbrook conference was the advocacy for a normative approach in place of value free efficiency approach of the classical theory. The conference was of the view that the stream and the subject should be on social equity which means promoting the cause of underprivileged sections of society. The organisation should develop new norms which need not strictly adhere to status quo but should keep pace with changing times. Public Administration should act as an agent of change.


Exactly twenty years later-that is, in September 1988-the Second Minnowbrook Conference was held. It was funded by three universities-The Syracuse University, The University of Kansas and The University of Akron. The conference met at Syracuse University on September 4, 1988. It was attended by as many as sixty scholars and practitioners, all belonging to polity sciences such as his or economics, sociopolitical science and public administration. According to H. George Frederickson, Minnow brook I was contentious, confrontational Land revolutionary while the event of 20 years later was more civil, more practical …. Both conferences were theoretical but the 1968 Conference dialogue was decidedly anti-behavioral, while the 1988 Conference was more perceptive to the contributions of the social and behavioral sciences to Public Administration.

In brief, the concerns and urges of the 1980’s were both common and different from those of 1960’s. The scholars who attended the 2988 Conference came from to background and context far themes developed at 1988 Minnowbrook Conference (20 years after the first conference) largely focus on the current and future visions in the field of Public Administration.



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