Development administration, as a concept, is a part in the developing countries of the broader discipline of public administration. Development administration differs from traditional public administration largely because of the ecological or environmental factor.
Indeed some students of the subject believe that there is hardly any resemblance between the two at all, because development administration is so new, so exciting, and so much in need of evolving methods and approaches of its own.
Most of the pioneers of the field, however, take a less extreme view, being more interested in activity drawing upon the methodologies and insights offered in congruent fields, no matter how new or traditional they may be.
The basic assumption of this distinctive approach to study the public administration is associated with comparative and ecological approaches. Every developing country has its own specific problems because of differing cultural and historical backgrounds, and most of them are at different stages of development.
What all have in common, is the need to develop a trained bureaucracy able to deal with the next stage of growth. Growth and social change are usually rapid, so that time scheduling and adaptation to change are essential factors conditioning the prescription of administrative policies, organisation and procedures.
They must be tailored to environment, history culture and traditions. This approach is equally valid in advanced countries, even in United States, where there are sharp differences between different geographical regions having different cultural traditions, between urban and rural areas and between where distinctive ethnic groups predominate.
As an academic approach of enquiry, development administration can fruitfully be related to the study of innovation and creativity. However, it poses the problem of generalizations. Development administration, if it makes some theoretical constructs, it is difficult to operationalize it.
For instances, can indices be found that will indicate when a government is pursuing one or another of the goals. Still the development administration, in spite of its fragile nature, continues to hold the stage.
Public administration, like other social sciences had attracted the attention of various thinkers, particularly during the current century, who wanted to improve as well as to understand the then existing system of administration.
Therefore, administrative theories and approaches have emerged. Moreover, several disciplines, specially sociology psychology, anthropology, economics and mathematics have contributed to the development of an integrated and cohesive study of administrative thought.
Thus, a number of thinkers adopting different approaches ranging from scientific management to development administration and further, have tried to view public administration through their own coloured glasses.
None of these approaches can be considered adequate. However, a combination of all or some of these approaches is useful for the proper understanding of the theory and practice of public administration.
For instance, the four major approaches-the comparative approach, environmental approach, the general system and development administration should be viewed as mutually interdependent and not as discretely categorised orientations.
Prof. Riggs has pleaded for empirical analysis and an ecological approach to the study of administrative behaviour. He believes in inter disciplinary and pan disciplinary approach in comparative studies.
Thus, in order, to understand the real insights of the complexities of public administration, its study should be undertaken with maximum possible mutual complementary approaches.