Comparative Public Administration

Comparative public administration focuses on Public Administration as a field of study and research rather simple execution of tasks. Haroon A. Khan defined the Comparative Public administration as a quest for searching patterns and regularities in administrative behavior and action and to characterize them in present day nation states.

It is interesting to note why and how Public Administration has gained a place in the field of study. Woodrow Wilson is credited for his writing The Study of Administration and perhaps this was a starting point in the United States, in other countries like India, Germany Public Administration was known long back owing to influences of Arthashashtra and Kameralwissenschaft.

Later half of twentieth century saw many improvements and bureaucratic internationalization between European countries in reference to Euro-zone and also to all other countries of the world with transnational organizations like World Bank, Interpol and International Court of Justice.

These changes which came about after 1960s were basically administrative reforms implemented by the legislative to make administration more decentralized, accountable and efficient. But, on the other hand some other reforms were pushed aimed at giving more control to policy makers of the bureaucracy while avoiding all the responsibilities.

It was imperative to look how these two different situations affected Administration as a whole in different countries. The best way to look at this was through scientific study of comparative public administration. It is also a way to identify best practices in Public Administration so as to achieve maximum result most efficiently and to build a solid organizational structure and processes.

It will be wise to understand here that simply importing those practices which have served well in other countries will not suffice, since people in general are different and they react different to same stimuli. So, what works best in one country might not work at all in other countries.

Most commonly used model for Comparative study has been to compare and contrast western and non-western methods and styles. This model has created dualistic concepts like diffused - specific, universalistic-particularistic, etc and often tends to favor one end of spectrum towards another. But, these do not help in study of development or how to increase quality of life in third world countries. The other and better method used is called description.

It is more suitable for cross-cultural analysis as it relies on facts of a situation and get at the all-important aspect of context. But, it too cannot be used directly as a solution to problems faced by other societies. All the other frameworks deals with certain units of analysis or tools which help in gathering and categorizing facts efficiently they are:

  • Individuals - the study of behaviors of officials, leaders and elites
  • Groups - the study of social movements of parties and interest groups
  • Organizations - the study of functions and capacities of cities and regions
  • Bureaucracy - the study of the efficacy and performance of whole government executive branch

Clearly within the last decade there has been a very significant rise in CPA as results obtained through it are if nothing, interesting.

Many international organizations have come forward and joined their hands in CPA. For example, The international Public Management Network includes individuals from many countries and they publish international public management journal to provide a forum for sharing ideas, concepts and results of research and thinking about alternative approaches to problem solving and decision making in public sector.

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