Public issuing orders and instructions. Coordinating is inter-relating

 

Public
administration as a sub-field of political science has two key components. It
emerged as an instrument of the state to serve public interests as opposed to
private interests. One of its components, public, in the above sense consists
of all people in general who have something in common and an objective to meet
other than few individuals having their own interests. The other component,
administration, means look after or to manage public affairs according to E.N
Gladden. It has been observed that administration has two essential elements,
that is, it involves collective efforts and a common objective. Public administration
has been defined by differently by various scholars. According to Woodrow
Wilson, public administration is the detailed and systematic execution of law.
He continues to indicate that every particular application of law is an act of
administration. He further says that administration is the most obvious part of
government; it is the government in action; it is the executive, the operative
and the most visible side of the government.

The scope of
public administration is wide and various perspectives have been put forth
discuss the scope. Luther Gulick has proposed the narrow perspective or the
POSDCoRB view in trying to explain the scope of public administration. He
argues that public administration has a limited scope. According to him, public
administration only concerns itself with those aspects of administration that
relate with the executive branch of the government. His acronym, POSDCoRB,
stands for seven types of administrative functions namely; planning,
organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating reporting and budgeting. Planning
means the working out in broad outline the things to be done, the methods to be
adopted to accomplish the purpose.
Organization means the establishment of the formal structure of authority
through which the work is sub-divided, arranged, defined and coordinated. Staffing
means the recruitment and training of the personnel and their conditions of
work. Directing means making decisions and issuing orders and instructions. Coordinating
is inter-relating the work of various divisions, sections and other parts of
the organization. Reporting means informing the superiors within the agency to
whom the executive is responsible about what is going on. Budgeting means
fiscal planning, control and accounting. According to Gulick, the activities of
POSDCoRB are common in all organizations. He views them as common managerial
problems which are found in various agencies regardless of the work they
perform. POSDCoRB gives certainty, unity and definiteness and makes the study
of public administration more systematic. However, POSDCoRB activities are not
the whole of administration or even the most important part of it. It does not
put into consideration the fact that different organizations have different
administrative challenges which are peculiar to the nature of the services and
functions performed. It also ignores the major concerns which the organization
is concerned with. One of its major defects is that it fails to have any
reference to the formulation band implementation of policies. This perspective
therefore defines the scope of public administration very narrowly and it is
too inward and again too conscious of the top management

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Woodrow
Wilson and L.D White on another hand propose the broad perspective or the subject
matter view. In this view, they have present a very broad perspective on the
scope of public administration. They argue that public administration covers
all the three organs of the government and their functions, that is, the legislature
making laws, the executive implementing the laws and the judiciary interpreting
them. They propose that there is an interrelationship among the three as all of
them mostly function within the bracket of law. This perspective includes
cooperative groups, like public universities, which consists of all categories
of public employees. They also view public administration as part of the
political process. They argue that it plays a vital role in the formulation of
public policies from the national level to the local levels of government. They
propose that public administration is related with the numerous private
entities and individuals in providing services to the society. In Kenya, for
instance, public administration has in the recent years been influenced by the
human approach in various aspects like the non-governmental organizations and
other private organizations who have been working with the government sectors
to provide services to the people. For example, the ministry of education of
Kenya has been working closely with the United States Agency on International
Development (USAID) and the United Kingdom Agency on International Development
(UKAID) in a bid to improve the education sector in Kenya. Besides, the New
Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) works with the Kenyan government
to eradicate poverty, promote sustainable growth and development, integrate
Kenya in the world economy, and accelerate the empowerment of women. It is
based on underlying principles of a commitment to good governance democracy,
human rights and conflict resolution;  and the recognition that maintenance of these
standards is fundamental to the creation of an environment conducive to
investment and long-term economic growth. They argue that public administration
involves political appointees, parliamentarians and politicians.

The other
perspective is the prevailing view which splits the scope of public administration
into two categories; the administrative theory and the applied administration.
The administrative part on one hand involves organization part like the
structure of an organization which includes the human resource department, the
behavior and functions of administrative authorities and various methods
appropriate to different functions, functions and methods of all types of
public authorities be it at the national, regional or local level. It also
includes the public personnel administration which concerns itself with all the
problems concerning personnel, training, recruitment, retirement, promotion and
all the problems related to planning, research, information and services
relevant to the public. On the other hand, the applied administration entails
all political functions including the relationship between the executive and
the legislature, minister and permanent official relationship, the legislative
functions including.

 delegated legislation and the preparatory work
done by the officials connection to the drawing 
of bills, the financial functions related to total financial
administration from the preparation of budget to its execution, accounting and
auditing and other roles like defense, education and social welfare functions.

Since the inception of public administration,
its study has been growing in different perspectives and now it involves
various functions and concerns. Various scholars have made different attempts
to explain the aspects of public administration. They have come up with
different approaches to the study of public administration which are different
but not in large extensions which have shaped its structure and functions. One
of the approaches used is the public policy approach and it aims at improving
the public policy process. It was propounded by D. Lerner and Harold Lasswell
primarily to address the concerns of the public for its betterment. After the Second World War, there developed
some interests in the aspects of administration due to the practical encounters
and war alliances which had been formed during the war, the inception of
international organizations and emergence of the developing countries. A
lot of reforms were carried out in areas not just regarding the content of
public policy but also the ways in which they were formulated. W. Parsons argues that the wider
purpose of public policy is involving the enlightenment, the fuller development
of individuals in the society and development of consensus, social awareness
and legitimacy other than simply the role of service and goods delivery. With
the dynamic times, the needs of the society have also changed and thus the role
of the government and nature of its policies. The increase in the average age
of the population has made the Government to look into the pension policies in
the developed countries which has also been rolled out in Kenya for the elderly
in the society while the young population of the developing countries has
forced their governments to come up with policies like those of creating job
opportunities to them, right to education in Kenya. This approach encompasses
many aspects of the functions of the government. Its scope has become so broad
that it might appear confusing at times and spread all over. Policy analysis
approach is gaining popularity since the Government is venturing into new areas
and different activities with increased involvement in welfare programs, the
process of making public policies and its analysis and execution, the
measurement of the output among other things have become the new areas of
concern in trying to provide devices and mechanisms for moving the
socio-economic systems of the society.

Another approach to the study of public
administration is the structural approach. This approach has been influenced
mostly by the success of American co-operations which lay their focus on the
organizational structure and personal management. The approach mainly focuses on
the formal administrative structures, their functions and the limitations
imposed on their activities. It treats public administration as purely
technical rather and non-political organization based on a scientific
principle. The proponents believe that public administration has nothing to do
with neither politics nor policy making. They argue that its core functions is
to perform politically determined policies effectively and efficiently. They
also hold that tasks of an organization are very clear objectives, functions
and goals which do not overlap and that employees should adjust themselves to
the tasks assigned to them.

To add on the approaches is the political
economy approach. Political economy entails the interdisciplinary study from economics,
law and political science in trying to explain how political institutions, the
political environment and the economic system influence each other. This
approach tries to bring closer the gap between political science and economics
in a bid to aid better political cohesion and policies. Some economists like
Antony Downs and Godon Tullock have made attempts of this approach by
experimenting economic methods to political problems. It deals with a wide
range of issues including how elections influence the choice of economic
policies, the determinants of electoral outcomes, politics of delayed reforms
in developing countries and of excessive deficits like it is in Kenya, the
political business cycles and redistributing conflicts in physical policy. It
has recently been incorporated to involve the origins and rate of change of
political institutions and the role of culture in explaining economic outcomes
and developments. As its study narrows down, it presents public policy as
encouraging market protection, monopoly, and rent seeking and institutional
corruption. For instance, in Kenya, when the government gets into the economy,
it does so not to harmonize market opportunities for all but to encourage
monopoly and protection of businesses related to it. For instance, in the
telecommunications sector, there has been a continuous sabotage of new and
upcoming communication networks  like
Airtel, which has gone through a long period of crisis and collapses in
business, and this to some extent has been attributed to the government’s close
working with the telecommunication ‘giant’ in Kenya, Safaricom Limited.

Another approach in the study of public administration
is the institutional approach. It largely concerns itself with legal rights and
obligations of the government. It deals with the formal relationships to
provide checks and balances which is the oversight and regulatory mechanism and
also the separation of power among the three arms of the government. This
approach separates the policy and administration assuming that the role of
administrators is almost confined to perform policies defined by the political
arm of the government. It is based on formal analysis of the hierarchy,
departments, units and the vertical and horizontal relationships and the
constitutional delegation of authority and responsibility of the judiciary,
legislature and the executive. For instance, in Kenya, the three arms of the
government that is the judiciary, the legislature and the executive work in a
system of checks and balances where each arm provides an oversight on the
functioning of the other and again being keen not to overlap on the functioning
of the other. There is also the concept of separation of powers so that each
arm works independently without interference from another arm. These principles
are sometimes interfered with for we have had complains from some arms that
other arms compromise their independence. For instance, the judiciary has
recently complained of the parliament coming in to dictate its functioning. The
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in last year’s elections
complained over external influence from the parliament and re-known politicians
in its decision making process and functioning.  

In conclusion, the various approaches applied
in the study of public administration have some shortcomings in the way they
view public administration. None of them is self-reliant for public
administration is extremely wide just as some scholars have admitted that
almost every activity involves some administration. Thus, these approaches
should be intertwined and comparisons made if one is to get the gist of public
administration.