Relationship of Public Administration with Politics – Essay

Study of Public Administration has considerably increased because every where a public administrator is coming more and more in contact with common man. His policies and programmes implementation system influences every walk of his life.

Though a new comer in the family of social sciences, it has occupied an important place in the family. It has close relationship with all social science subjects and yet maintains a separate entity of its own.

Politics and Public Administration have complementary goals to fulfill. Among the social sciences, public administration is most closely related to politics. In its earlier phase public administration was a part of politics. But later the writers made a sharp distinction between it and politics.

Prof. Wilson wrote in 1887 Although politics sets the tasks for administration, it should not be suffered to manipulate its offices. The field of administration is the field business. It is removed from the hurry and strife of politics, it at most points stands apart even from debatable ground of constitutional study.

“The German writer Bulntschlli said, “Politics is state activity in things general and universal while administration is the activity of the state in individual and small things. Politics is thus the general province of the statesman, administration of the technical official. Thus the function of politics is to set down the policy while the function of the administration is to implement it.

However, of late there has taken place a reevaluation of the earlier relationship between politics and administration. The so called “politics administration dichotomy has come in for a great deal of criticism”.

Lesli Lipson says, “The attempt to demarcate clear cut function of government is impossible. Government is a continuous process. It is true that the process contains phases. Legislation is one phase, administration another, but these are merged together and at certain points become indistinguishable.

“Similarly, Luther Gullick says, “It is impossible to analyse the work of any public employee from the time he stays into his office in the morning until he leaves at night without discerning that his every act is a seamless web of discretion and action.”

Public administration and politics do not stand deviated from each other. Administration must know the political conditions and a politician must know administration. The study of public administration includes all the processes of policy formulation, political parties and public opinion.

The two subjects are so close to each other that, as John M. Gans remarks, “A theory of Public Administration means in our time a theory of politics too.” Public administration is very much interested in several political questions.

The form and structure of public administration is determined by the constitution. In the domain of local government there is much overlapping of subject matter between politics and administration. International politics presents not only the problems of diplomacy but also those of administration.

Proceeding further he writes, “I have found no support for the contention that international administration is always necessary, of course, in transferring administration experience from smaller to larger enterprises from one level of government to another, or from one cultural environment to another to interpret such experience in the light of different conditions”.

International relations and public administration meet not only in matters of organization but also in those of management and technique.

It must not, however, be assumed that politics and public administration are one and the same. While no cut and dried formula is possible, it may be said that “politics and the politician are mainly concerned with defining the broad objectives of administration and manipulation of political power which provides the motive force for the wheels of administration.

While administration and administrators have for their proper field the providing of the data, suggestions and criticisms for formulation of policy and carrying it out when finally made.”

While it may be conceded that there are many problems common to both politics and public administration and that it is not possible to draw an exact boundary line between the spheres of the two, we must not blur the distinction between the two altogether. We should keep in mind the logical distinction between the two and not try to ignore it.

Thus we can conclude that absolute separation between policies and administration is irrational. “Politics, when it losses sight of what is administratively feasible, degenerates into mere building of castles in the air, and administration shorn of its political contact, becomes an empty nothing”.

Pfiffner rightly remarks, “Politics and administration are so intermingled and confused that a clear distinction is difficult”. M. Gaus also remarks, “A theory of public administration means in our time a theory of politics too”. Professor Waldo also holds, “Students of administration have been reaching out towards political theory and have been themselves contributing in an important way to political theory.”