Public Administration - Challenges in a Developed Society

The developed countries are identified by certain parameters like highly developed economy, greater technical infrastructure, high GDP and net income per capita, level of industrialization and also the standard of living of the people. Development and modernization of a state has an obvious and significant impact on its politics, culture and society. Subsequently, these changes find their ways in several other important institutions like judiciary, executive and legislative. USA has been one of the nations, which have witnessed vast changes and reforms in its administrative history owing to the industrialization, two world wars and the various academic and experimental studies carried out in the areas of social and behavioral sciences.

Let us also look at the general features of the public administration in developed countries before we proceed to study about the challenges they face.

  • The government organizations are significantly differentiated and functionally specific. The bureaucracies are large and perform a myriad of specialized functions and are of the Weberian type

  • There is a lot of internal specialization within the roles and the selection of people is based on merit

  • The decision and law making process is largely rational

  • The government institutions are present in all spheres of the life of the citizens

  • Since there is popular interest in public affairs, there is a direct relationship between political power and legitimacy

Now, the problems that the public administration of developed countries faces are also complex. The first problem which is kind of basic is the lack of coherence between numerous service providing agencies and regulatory bodies. The problem especially surfaces at the local levels where the authorities design their own programs and also run the programs funded by the national authorities. The other example can be dominance of politicians in the matters of specialized domains of bureaucracy.

Most of the developed states, especially of Europe are called Administrative States and their bureaucracies perform certain specific functions. Rumki Basu in her book Public Administration: Concepts and Theories explains these functions. According to her, the public administration in these countries performs regulatory functions while ensuring the enforcement of law and order, collection of revenues and the national defense against aggression.

The public administration provides a range of services like education, health, cultural, insurance, housing, unemployment benefits and communication and transport. They also play an important role in bringing about the economic growth of the country by operating industries, giving loans etc.

The present day challenges in the developed countries are primarily economic. The economic depression has put immense pressures on the services provided by the government. A lot of reforms have been proposed in which the state resources are being closely administered. The withdrawal of certain benefits has left the public administration of the countries exposed to a lot of criticism and flag from the common people. The regulatory role of public bodies has also come under scrutiny for their failure to prevent major upheavals from taking place. As things improve, the role and challenges of public administration shall change once again.

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