It seems much easier and tempting to accept public administration as an art because it is purely state administration and largely does not follow the laws of science such as lack of normative values, behavioral predictability, and universal applicability. However, public administration is also a science and we are going to find out how.
There are various conflicting views and opinions regarding whether public administration is an art or science. Interestingly, these conflicting views can be justified by their own rights. However, public administration as earlier mentioned in the introduction is both a science and an art.
The reason public administration is both an art and science is that it consists of the characteristics of both art and science. Art can be perceived as any skillful and systematic practice, naturally born with or something you acquire through education. Therefore, there are two extremes when it comes to administration, it is either we are born with it or we are trained in schools to become professionals in it.
Others argue that public administration is an art because to run society as a public administrator, one must have skills that must be applied while working to be successful. For example, you cannot make a good public leader if you lack interpersonal, communication, and social skills.
The fact public administration is learned through the practical application of knowledge is what makes some scholars think it is more of an art as opposed to a science.
Most people who believe that public administration is an art because it is an inborn trait or skill, and not a more labor-intensive acquisition argue that poets and footballers such as Lionel Messi are born, not made. This then entails that administration as an art cannot be learned, and even though there is some far-fetched level of truth in it, it does not guarantee overemphasis. In the field of administration, training, and learning administrative skills can certainly increase administrative capacity, although to a small extent. Therefore, it is safe to say that people acquire administrative knowledge and skills.
On the other hand, those that subscribe to the view that public administration is a science and not an art, believe that public administration has a well-defined field, with enough application data to arrive at facts, and has attained a level of sophistication large enough to claim and cement a place in the physical sciences family.
Most scholars and thinkers who argue that public administration is science are led to believe so because “science” is typically used in broad and narrow senses. In the broad sense, it means a systematic collection of knowledge gathered from experience or observation. In the narrow sense, it is the knowledge that formulates precise general principles based on mostly predictable results. Therefore, the main characteristics of science are accuracy, validity, and predictability.
The arguments for public administration as science are: – the method of investigation can be used to study public administration. Scientists use comparative methods as well as advanced statistical techniques and computer technology which make it make it possible to collect and analyze facts relating to administration.
Public administration as an art or science has two purposes; to permeate the process of administering state affairs, and is also a field of intellectual inquiry, with the former being practice and the latter, learning.
Public Administration Is Both a Science And An Art
This is a third view that does not take sides regarding whether public administration is an art or a science but sees it as being both an art and a science. It is a science because advanced knowledge steps are applied. Advanced research and knowledge can be developed into a future “Science of Administration”. It is an art because it is concerned with the human aspect and relates to the public in various ways.
Public administration is both an art and a science as it is more practical than theoretical. As a result, people regard it as more of an art rather than a science. However, public administration is without a single doubt a specialized knowledge which in this case, is a science.
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