Prof. Dwight Waldo expresses doubts regarding the sincerity of the effort to give one line or one sentence definition of Public Administration. He says, “The immediate effect of all one-sentence or one-paragraph definitions of public administration is mental paralysis rather than enlightenment and stimulation.
This is because a serious definition of the term inevitably contains several abstract words, and phrases that can be explained only by other abstract words or phrases. In short compass these abstract words and phrases can a be explained only by other abstract words and phrases, and in the process, the reality and importance of ‘it’ become fogged and lost”.
Following are definitions of the subject by eminent persons on the subject:
Public administration the co-ordination of collective efforts to implement public policy. “The work which the government does to give effect to a law is called public administration.”
“Administration is concerned with the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of government. The ‘vyhat’ is the subject-matter, the technical knowledge of a field which enables and administrator to perform his task. The ‘how’ is the technique of management, the principles according to which comprehensive programmes are carried through a process”
“The administrator gets things done, and just as the Science of Politics is an enquiry into the best means whereby the will of the people may be organised for the formulation of policy, so the science of Public Administration is an enquiry as to how policies may best be carried into operation”.
“In its broadest sense Administration can be defined as the activities of groups cooperating to accomplish common goals”.
“Administration is the organisation and use of men and materials to accomplish a purpose”.
According to Willoughby in its broadest sense it denotes “the work involved in the actual conduct of governmental affairs, regardless of the particular branch of government concerned. It its narrowest sense it denotes the operations of the administrative branch only. As students | of Public Administration we are concerned with the narrow meaning of the term”
“Public Administration is the art and the science of management as applied to the affairs of state”.
“Public Administration is detailed and systematic application of law. Every particular application of law is an act of administration”.
“Administration is the determined action taken in pursuit of a common purpose. It is systematic ordering of affairs and the calculated use of resources aimed at making those things happen which we want to happen”.
An analysis of the above definitions enables us to come to the following conclusions:
The above definitions reveal that public administration, according to some authorities on the subject, means totality of governmental activities, whereas according to others; it denotes mere administrative part of the executive.
The latter view generally prevails. As such, public administration is considered government in action. It is described as the executive, the operative and the most obvious part of the government. It is concerned with the conduct and management of public activities.
It is the systematic execution of the will of the people which has been discovered, formulated and expressed in the form of laws enacted by the legislature. Thus the assessment and rating of taxes; the banging of a criminal, the delivery of mails-all are acts of public administration.
Therefore, it may be said that public administration is the non-political machinery of the government carrying on its work for the welfare of the people according to the laws formulated by the state. It is the permanent executive as distinguished from the political one and includes all those activities which are of public importance.
In wider context as said above it comprise all activities of government whether they fall in the sphere of the legislature executive or judicial branch of the government. Wilson, White Pfiffner and Dimock support this contention whereas the narrow interpretation is supported by Simon. Gullick and Willoughby etc.
We must also be clear of one fact the public administration has not to deal abstractions. It has to deal with people and not with things. There is a school of thought which holds that the tendency in the future will treat the subject as such.
That is an exaggerated view. Things are also needed though they are to be so arranged that a large scale organization works with a minimum of intervention, but ultimately it is participation of the human element that matters.
Things are, of course, of primary importance to the administrator whose job is to arrange them, classify them, supply them, but he cannot administer them as they are mere tools of administration.
Administration has to do with the human beings. Administration is essentially a matter of human relationships. It may be emphasized that the administration is neither a philosopher nor a politician.
His job is to organize, to manage and to ensure that things work. He is the non-political sides of the executive. It is none of his business to indulge in party politics, and to organize power groups. He has to administer according to the law of course keeping in mind the economics of administration.