Nature and scope of Comparative public administration: From the 1950s the two terms” comparative government” and “comparative public administration” have gained both publicity and popularity. A large number of American political scientists came to realize that the administrative structures and the process of administration of the newly independent states. Nature and scope of comparative public administration of the third World are different from the industrially developed states of Europe and America show what is comparative public administration and why should we study it?.
The time-old concepts of political science such as government, administration, sovereignty etc. had a meaning and significance in the developed nations. But these conceptions lost some of their relevance when they travelled to the new states of Asia and Africa. But these new states were administered and governed according to local systems, culture, customs and procedures.
To be more specific, the processes changed but the administration was conducted. In this background some political scientists started to think of comparing political systems of different countries. Comparative public administration refers to a sub-field of broad public administration discipline. It is true that such an established subfield exists in political science entitled, “Comparative politics” or “Comparative governments.”
Although the subject is not construed as consisting of theories, but there is ample evidence of current interest in Comparative Public Administration in the form of bibliographies, conferences, new courses and a wide range of scholarly articles, and books. Even the American Political Science Review recognized this subject by inaugurating, as on March 1963, a bibliographical section entitled Comparative Public Administration. New interest was shown by the American Society of Public Administration, when the comparative public administration group was established.
Nature and scope of Comparative Administration
Comparative public administration focuses its attention on administrative structure, bureaucracy patterns of administration, decentralization of administration, civil service system and recruitment of government employees. The public administration is a part of government and so also the comparative public administration is a part of comparative government.
But administration and government are not identical concepts. The public administration is a part of government.
The public administration is according to the type of government. For example, we say capitalist state, we also say capitalist administration. Comparative study of public administration necessarily associates itself with the other mainstream of social sciences whereby conventional systematic comparison can be made.
The mainstream includes economics, political science, sociology and psychology. Interestingly, it is because of comparative approach of public administration, that the American oriented study of the discipline is checked. No longer will public administration theories be based on the exceptional American experience. Ferrell Heady in 1962 outlined that most of the comparative administrative studies focused particularly on the relations between bureaucracy and democracy. This has also been a central theme of western administrative theory.
The purpose of comparative debate over bureaucracy is to identify the proper role of administration in modern democracies. The democracy bureaucracy nexus has been the central theme in many of the comparative studies and it is because of these studies a ‘new identity’ has been attached to the public administration Basic Premises of Comparative Public Administration discipline.
The emergence of comparative administration as an integral part of the study and research in administration did provide a new eland to the totality of the discipline. The comparative aspects of public administration have largely been ignored; and as long as the study of public administration is not comparative, claims for a science of public administration sound rather hollow. Comparative public administration is undergoing different period of reflection, scholars are wondering what the configuration of the discipline really is, and which direction holds the most promise for the future.
Finally, Fred W. Riggs stated that there are three trends prevalent in comparative study of public administration. The first is a movement from the normative to the empirical approach. This reflects the emphasis of the “how to” writings recommending changes in administrative structure and functioning and laying an emphasis on description and analysis of actual administrative situations.
The empirical writings are not yet truly comparative. The empirical writings express both the “ideographic” and “nomothetic” approaches and it is the movement from the first to the second of these which constitutes another, i.e., “non-ecological” to “ecological” approaches. All these shifts or trends are seen in F.W. Riggs theory.