Basics of Public administration

pub ad

What is Public Administration?

Public administration has many definitions, but will put some layman understanding of Public Administration that will give you a more peripheral vision. We will first discuss the ambit of Pub. Adm.  i.e Cross-disciplinary- Political Science, Sociology, Business Administration, Psychology, Law, Anthropology, Medicine, Forestry and so on.

It is not a new concept, but got momentum through quest and usage in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. When it comes to the evolution, it developed  from political roots, Legal roots,Managerial roots , Interest groups. Public Administration is a combination of two words- Public means People’s  services and Administration (derived from  Latin word “Ad “  And   “Ministrare “ which means to serve/ to manage) mean management of affairs that must be  revolving around Public.

Public Administration

Public administration has two closely related meanings according to UNDP:

(a) The aggregate machinery (policies, rules, procedures, systems, organisational structures, personnel and so forth) funded by the State budget and in charge of the management and direction of the affairs of the executive government, and its interaction with other stakeholders in the State, society and external environment;

(b) The management and implementation of the whole set of government activities dealing with the implementation of laws, regulations and decisions of the Government and the management related to the provision of public services.

Hence, we can say, Public Administration is a system of organisation and action oriented  with performance of the  activities, and that activities moving around the people. Such as maintain Law and Order, Public Convenience, involved in social life etc. It can best be looked at as an instrument that is used for the realisation of the goals of the government.

Various definitions of Public Administration

  • Prof. Woodrow Wilson, the pioneer of the social science of Public Administration says in his book ‘The study of Public Administration’, published in 1887 “Public Administration is a detailed and systematic application of law.”
  • According to L. D. White “Public Administration consists of all those operations having for their purpose the fulfillment of public policy as declared by authority.” Both above definitions are done from traditional viewpoint and related only to the functions and actions of Administration.
  • According to Simon – “By Public Administration is meant the activities of the executive branches of the national, state, & local governments.”
  • According to Willough – “Public Administration in broadest sense denotes the work involved in the actual conduct of governmental affairs, and in narrowest senses denotes the operations of the administrative branch only.”
  • According to Gullick – “Public Administration is that part of the science of administration which has to do with government and thus, concerns itself primarily with the executive branch where the work of the government is done.”
  • According to Waldo – “Public Administration is the art and science of management as applied to the affairs of the state.”
  • Marshall E. Dimock – “Administration is concerned with ‘what’ and ‘How’ of the government. The what is the subject matter, the technical knowledge of afield which enables the administrator to perform his tasks. The ‘How’ is the technique of management according to which co-operative programmes are carried to success.”


The concept of Public Administration is discursive in nature and emphasize the value based character of Public Administration as a science and art of administration. A close scrutiny of the definitions reveal that Public Administration has  shown the following characteristics or features:

  • It is part of executive branch of government.
  • It is related with the activities of the state.
  • It carries out the public policies.
  • It realise the aspirations of the people as formulated and expressed in the laws.
  • Public Administration is politically neutral.

Team Aspirant Forum


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One response to “Basics of Public administration”

  1. mausam kumari says :

    a good work on the basics of pub. ad.
    kindly elaborate its scope and significance of the subject.
    one more thing:”what is the difference b/w public and private administration?”


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