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The Evolution Of Public Administration In American Society

1444 words - 6 pages

Public administration as a field of study and as a practice has continually evolved with American society. The United States has survived and thrived through major cultural shifts, varying degrees of economic climates, and both civil and world wars. Through out all these changes in our country, one thing has always remained the same, the fact that we are an ever evolving and always changing nation. Theories and forms of practice of public administration have also evolved parallel with the history of the United States. There have been numerous events in American history have lead to changes in society and the practice of public administration has both led and followed in the adaptation process of such monumental changes.

Public administration formally became a recognized academic and professional field in the late 19th century. Many public administration scholars contend that the start of public administration becoming a field of study was the 1887 Political Science Quarterly article “The Study of Administration” by a young Woodrow Wilson. (Shafritz, Russell, & Borick, 2011, pg. 28) Woodrow Wilson was classified as being a member of the Progressive Movement. The Progressives were a varied group of politicians, academics, advocates and activists who sought to abolish what they saw as the corrupt practices of the patronage system and to reform the new industrialized society that America had become. They objected to the pervasive corruption of government and sought to do away with the political machines that had become the standard of the time.

The study of public administration only continued to grow over the course of the next two decades. As the study of public administration expanded, so did the development of scientific management theories, like those of Leonard White, Luther Gulick and Lyndall Urwick. Gulick and Urwick released a set of papers on a new type of organizational theory. The collection, Papers on the Science of Administration, saw the arrival of Gulick’s well-known mnemonic POSDCORB, which stands for his idea of the seven major functions of management. The United States government grew exponentially during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Large-scale government programs, such as the Work Projects Administration and the Social Security Administration, which were aimed at pulling the nation out of the Great Depression, were created during this time period. It was also during this time period that the President’s Committee on Administrative Management, or commonly called the Brownlow Committee convened. The Brownlow Committee made sweeping recommendations regarding the administrative organization of the office of the President. These recommendations ultimately led to the creation of the Executive Office of the President. (Shafritz, Russell, & Borick, 2011, pg. 100-102) During the following decades the nation then experienced a period of prosperity and continued expansion. Correspondingly, the field of public...

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