Basics of Public Administration – Nature and Scope


There are two important views regarding to the Nature of Public Administration, that is, Integral and Managerial views.

  • The integral view: Administration is the sum total of all the activities such as; manual, clerical, managerial, etc., which are undertaken to realise the objectives of the organisation. According to this view, all the acts of officials of the government from the attendant to the secretaries to the government and head of the state constitute Public Administration. Henri Fayol and L.D. White are the supporters of this view.
  • The managerial view: According to this veiw of administration, the managerial activities of people who are involved in planning, organising, commanding, coordinating and controlling (POCCC- according to H. Fayol) constitute Public Administration.

This view regards administration as getting things done and not doing things. Luther Gullick, Herbert Simon, Smithburg and Thompson are the supporters of this view. The managerial view excludes Public Administration from non-managerial activities such as manual, clerical and technical activities.

Prof. M.P. Sharma’s view:

The two views differ from each other in many ways. According to Prof. M.P. Sharma the difference between the two views is fundamental. The integral view includes the activities of all the persons engaged in administration whereas the managerial view restricts itself only to the activities of the few persons at the top.

The integral view depicts all types of activities from manual to managerial, from non-technical to technical whereas the managerial view takes into account only the managerial activities in an organisation.

Furthermore, administration, according to the integral view would differ from one sphere to another depending upon the subject matter, but whereas that will not to be included in the managerial point of view because the managerial view is identified with the managerial techniques common to all the fields of administration.

The difference between the two views relates to the difference between management and operation or between getting things done and doing things. The correct meaning of the term administration would however, depend upon the context in which it is used.

Dimock, Dimock and Koening sum up the above views in their own words and say: “As a study public administration examines every aspect of government’s efforts to discharge the laws and to give effect to public policy; as a process, it is all the steps taken between the time an enforcement agency assumes jurisdiction and the last break is placed (but includes also that agency’s participation, if any, in the formulation of the programme in the first place); and as a vocation, it is organising and directing the activities of others in a public agency.”


There are three perspectives of scope of Public Administration.


Narrow perspective or POSDCORB perspective

Luther Gullick is the main exponent of this perspective. According to him the scope of public administration is narrow or limited. It is also regarded as POSDCORB view. It insist that the Public Administration is concerned only with those aspects of administration which are related with the executive branch and its seven types of administrative functions. These seven types of functions which shows the scope of Public Administration are as follows:

  • ‘P’ stands for planning – It  is the first step of Public Administration. i.e. working out the broad outline of the things that need to be done.
  • ‘O’ stands for organization – It means establishment of the formal structure of authority through which the work is sub-divided, arranged and co-ordinated for the defined objective.
  • ‘S’ stands for staffing – It means the recruitment and training of the staff and maintenance of favourable conditions of work for the staff.
  • ‘D’ stands for Directing – It means the continuous task of making decisions and embodying them in specific and general orders and instructions, and thus guiding the enterprise.
  • ‘Co’ stands for Co-ordination – It means interrelating the various parts of organization such as branches, divisions, sections of the work and elimination of overlapping.
  • ‘R’ stands for Reporting – It means informing the authority to whom the executive is responsible as to what is going on.
  • ‘B’ stands for Budgeting – It means accounting, fiscal planning and control.

POSDCORB Perspective about the Scope of Public Administration is limited and narrow. It stressed on the tools of Public Administration. It does not show the substance of administration. It is a technique oriented perspective, not a subject oriented.

Broad perspective or subject – oriented perspective

Prof. Woodrow Wilson, L D While are main exponent of this perspective. They have taken a very broad approach about the scope of Public Administration. According to them

(A) Public Administration covers all three branches of the government. Legislative, Executive and Judicial and their interrelationship. Legislative organ makes the laws, Executive organ of the government implements the laws. and Judicial organ of the government interprets the laws. There is interrelationship between these three organs.

B) Scope of Public Administration is like a cooperative group. It consist of all from class one officer to class four employees.
C) Public Administration is a part of the political process. It has an important role in the formulation of public policy at all levels, from national to grassroots. It is closely associated with numerous private groups and individuals in providing services to the community. It has been influenced in recent years by the human relations approach.

Prevailing view

Prevailing view divides the scope of Public Administration into two parts.-


Administrative theory -It includes the following aspects

  1. Organisational Theory – The Structure, organization, functions and methods of all types of public authority engaged in administration, whether national, regional or local and executive.

  2. Behaviour – The functions of administrative authorities and the various methods appropriate to different types of functions. The various forms of control of administration.

  3. Public Personal Administration – The problems concerning personnel e.g. recruitment, training, promotion, retirement etc.. and the problems relating to planning, research, information and public relation services.


Applied administration – It includes the following aspects

  1. Political functions – It includes the executive – legislative relationship, administrative activities of the cabinet, the minister and permanent official relationship.

  2. Legislative function – It includes delegated legislation and the preparatory work done by the officials in connection with the drawing up of bills.

  3. Financial functions – It includes total financial administration from the preparation of the budget to its execution, accounting and audit etc.

  4. Defence – Functions relating to military administration.

  5. Educational function – It includes functions relating to educational administration.

  6. Social welfare administration – It includes the activities of the departments concerned with food; housing, social security and development activities.

  7. Economic Administration – It is concerned with the production and encouragement of industries and agriculture.

  8. Foreign administration – It includes the conduct of foreign affairs, diplomacy, international cooperation etc..

  9. Local administration – It concern with the activities of the local self-governing institutions.


The modern state cannot confine its field of activities to only maintenance of law and order, dispensation of justice, collection of revenue and taxes. The modern state is expected to provide more and more services and amenities to the people. This results in tremendous growth both in the governmental responsibilities as well as in the administrative machinery of the state. Naturally the scope of public administration is increased.

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One response to “Basics of Public Administration – Nature and Scope”

  1. Zoya Sadaquat says :

    Excellent 👏
    It’s Really help me.


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