Politics Administration Dichotomy Essays On Education

Woodrow Wilson's politics and administration dichotomy

Guide to Administration and Politics Dichotomy Essay

The issues of politics and administration dichotomy first raised by Woodrow Wilson continue to generate debate among scholars of public administration in modern time. While some think Wilson's idea was useful, others reject the idea as impossible. In a 2-3 page paper, and in your opinion, is that distinction practical and workable? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using such a dichotomy today as a way to advance that field of study? Support your case with examples.

The essay requires you to synthesize the reading material from last week with this week's reading material; specifically, Wilson's paper versus Norton Long's. You would recall from last week that Wilson advocates a division of government into two spheres: the political sphere and the administrative sphere. The political sphere makes the law i.e. Congress and the President. You may search for a flowchart of the legislative process online to give you an idea of how legislation is passed. Once the House and Senate agree on a bill, it is sent to the President who signs it into law. Think of a scenario where the President signs a bill creating the Clean Air Act. Per Wilson, the political sphere is done with their portion of the task. The administrative sphere comes into the picture to implement this Clean Air Act. For example, what levels of pollutants are acceptable? The Environmental Protection Agency enters the picture to set regulations and to ensure the car manufacturers and other industries reduce their pollution levels. According to Wilson, the EPA's role is not political, rather it is a business. Public administrators have been assigned a task and they rely on their expertise to execute that task. Public administrators must be given the discretion to work in their sphere without any political meddling. In Wilson's words: "Although politics sets the tasks for administration, it should not be suffered to manipulate its offices." This is the politics administration dichotomy model.

In order to write a convincing essay, review Norton Long's essay. For the complete article, see the attachment. How does Long differ from Wilson? How does Long perceive the role of politics in administration? Does he support a dichotomy? Do you agree that politics can be separate from administration? Does Robertson (from this week's case study) support Wilson or Long's view? Think about these questions as you write the paper.

(Please find the article attached.)


Solution Preview

I can guide you in the writing of the essay; however, I cannot write it for you. This is an interesting question based on two thought processes and yet they are only different in their point of political intervention. This outline should guide you to complete the paper. I would consider examples of the EPA for your work. They are the easiest to find. The Corbell case noted here is fascinating and also a good example of politics and administration gone awry.

While it is true that agencies most often fall under the jurisdiction of the executive branch of government in the U.S., their mission is created within the laws of the legislative branch of government. In terms of simple explanation, the legislative branch of government makes the laws, the executive branch enforces the law, and the judicial branch settles disputes about the law, mostly the legality.
Looking at Weber's bureaucracy theory, we see the essence of bureaucracy lies in the administration of laws by agencies. These agencies are people designated to positions based on their expertise and do their job because it is their specialty. Weber is a better point of view because the question of politics is not part of his definition. The ...

Solution Summary

The issues of politics and administration dichotomy are examined.

An Educated Politician

Before Woodrow Wilson became president, he was a scholar of politics and history. To this day, he is the only U.S. President to have acquired a Ph.D. His knowledge led him to publish many important essays in Political Science Quarterly, including his most influential work, “The Study of Administration,” published in 1887.

Believed in a Skilled Bureaucracy

Up until 1884, the administration of the U.S. government was carried out by workers hired through the “spoils system,” a system that valued a person’s faithfulness to a political party, not their level of skill. As a result, the U.S. bureaucracy became very inefficient. In Wilson’s seminal essay, “The Study of Administration,” he proposes that administration should be run by skilled workers selected based on merit, not elected by the people or chosen by politicians.

First to Illustrate the Policy/Administration Dichotomy

The idea that politicians should create and execute policy and administrators should help them do it, regardless of their political views, is known as the policy/administration dichotomy. Wilson was one of the earliest supporters of this theory. In “The Study of Administration,” he wrote that “…administration lies outside the proper sphere of politics.” He compares administration to a machine that can efficiently run independently of politicians’ changing views.

Believed Administration Should Run Like a Business

Image via Flickr by cliff1066™

In his essay, Wilson argues that comparative analyses should be made between the government and a privately owned organization. The focus of government is not on making profit, but it should still aspire to run efficiently, much like a business. Hiring employees for the business (administrators) should involve an assessment of the potential employee’s skill level, then training and proper management after hiring.

Broke Down Every Government’s Development Into Three Periods

According to Wilson, all developed governments form over the same three periods of growth. First, the nation succumbs to an absolute ruler who imposes government administration. Second, the nation develops a constitution to oppose the absolute ruler and form a government influenced by the popular vote. It isn’t until the third stage that governments are able to develop their administrations to properly support their new constitutions.

Applauded the Methods of Napoleon Bonaparte

Wilson brings up several nations when discussing his three-part government development theory. The U.S. and England make the list, but surprisingly, so do Napoleon’s France and Frederic the Great’s Prussia. At the same time that Wilson denounces Napoleon as a “despot,” he also praises his ability to organize the government’s administration efficiently, writing that, “No corporate, popular will could ever have effected arrangements such as those which Napoleon commanded.”

Wilson’s foundational concepts of public administration were once considered revolutionary and contributed to the progressive movement in the United States. Without Wilson’s work, public administration may have taken many more years to be regarded and studied for the science it is.

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