Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 3

PURl-IC ADMINISTRATION REVIEW 50th YEAR

many I could cite from the book) can perhaps suggest


import and flavor: "...the platonic dictum, that an unexamined life is not worth living, is extensible: An unexamined
profession isn't wortb following" (p. 124); "1 hadn't
thought of writing an Apologia pro Vita Sua. But if I had,
this exercise would have made it unnecessary!" (p. 164).
Frank Marini
The University of Akron

Pubiic Administration:
A Poiiticai Orientation

Chartes H. Levine, B. Guy Peters, and Frank J. Thompson,


Public Admlnisiraiion: Challenges, Choices,
Consequences (Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman/Little,
Brown Higher Education, 1990), 474 pp.; $36.00 eloth.
Ptiblic Admlnlstralion is a major new textbook by three
prominent scholars of public administration. Structured in
a fairly traditional way, the text proceeds from a macro
focus to a micro focus examining, in order, the role of
government in the economy, the role of bureaucracy in
politics, and the internal management of public organizations. The text's objective is to present issues and contexts
rather than techniques; il pays little attention to the nuts
and bolts of public administration, concentrating instead
on environmentai forces, politics, and public policy.
Wbiie tbe authors contend that their objective is explanation and description rather than prescription, at times the
authors advocate reforms for public seetor organizations.
Public Administration is targeted at introductory graduate and advanced undergraduate classes for students with
backgrounds in American government. The authors take
this audience seriously; the arguments are sophisticated,
the reader is exposed to the complexities of public administration, the concepts and even the vocabulary are fairly
advanced. This is not a text that has been watered down
for wimps. Readers seeking cartoons and pictures should
look elsewhere. In fact, graduate students could prepare
for comprehensive exams by reading the works cited in
the endnoles. Even with its advanced nature, the book is
not difficult to read. The chapters are well organized, the
writing is concise, and the presentation is logical.
A major theme woven throughout the book is the
impact of the United Slates' antibureaucratic culture on
public administration. Tbe low regard that citizens and
even politicians have for public servants not only creates
political problems for bureaucrats but also exacerbates
management problems. The authors link this culture and
its political manifestations to the decline in public service
morale and subsequent reductions in the ability of bureaucracies to perform their tasks effectively. In their concluding chapter, the authors seriously question whether or not
the federal government can attract the quality personnel it
needs to administer complex public policies.

America's antibureaucratic culture received its most


aggressive support in the Reagan Administration's
attempts to control the bureaucracy. The authors examine
the Reagan effort not in terms of bureaucratic policy making (where democratic norms unambiguously support such
efforts) but rather in the implementation process. By
examining implementation, where bureaucracies need to
be abie to apply expertise to varying situations, the authors
make a strong case regarding the ill effects of excessive
political control.
Although the text does not contain a program evaluation chapter, it provides a stimulating discussion of program design and evaluation as part of the political context
of public administration. Tbe authors present a series of
hypotheses concerning the relationship between policy
instruments (direct provision of services, contracting out,
grants, loans, etc.) and the goals of public policy (certainty, efficiency, flexibility, choice, ete.). In the process, the
authors have defined a research agenda for program evaluation. The tradeoffs involved in this discussion alone
could keep scores of doctoral candidates busy for many
dissertations.
The administrative law chapter stresses the conflicts
between legal controls on bureaucracy and the need for
bureaucratic flexibility. The authors argue that many
administrative law restrictions on bureaucracy rob agencies of tbeir structural advantages over courts and legislatures. As the authors conclude in the following chapter,
"If rigidity is a central problem of public bureaucracies,
the introduction of more controls tends to exacerbate the
problem" (p. 190).
The two organization theory chapters are a highlight of
the text. The first chapter integrates United States administrative history with the intellectual development of organizational theory. The chapter implies, although it does
not specifically argue, that theoretical dominance in organization theory is as much politieal as it is intellectual. In
the second organization theory chapter, the authors ask the
traditional public administration question, "are public
organizations different?" They conclude that public organizations are different; they differ in their environmental
relations, in their goals and objectives, and in how they are
designed and managed. This chapter concludes with a
well-thought-out critique of public choice approaches to
organization theory.
The management and the personnel chapters illustrate
the range of the techniques chapters. The management
chapter focuses briefly on the linkage between organizational technology and management. The personnel chapter, in contrast, is outstanding. It is an integrated discussion of the politics of federal personnel policy, discussing
key issues such as political attempts to control personnel
management, recruitment problems in a post-PACE
(Professional-Administraton Career Entrance) exam civil
service, and the impact of the Civil Service Reform Act of
1978. A great deal on current issues and politics can be
gleaned from this chapter.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER IQ90

HOOK RIAIEWS

The book's final two chapters include a chapter on


attaining excellence in the public service and a chapter on
the future of ptiblic administration. The excellence chapter will probably generate a great deal of attention as the
autliors discuss tbe pop management book, //; Search of
Excellence, in context of the public service. While the
chapter has a good discussion of the impact of cultural and
environmental restraints on public bureaucrats, for the
most part il departs from the scholarly tone in (he rest of
the book. Unlike other sections of tbe book, many of the
assertions are untestable and read like nostrums from the
Harvard Business Review. Tbe final chapter on the future
of public administration raises several questions. The key
one is: who will work for govemment? The authors argue
convincingly that bureaucrat bashing and poor personnel
practices have taken their toll on the federal civil service.
While not totally pessimistic, tbe authors raise serious
questions about the luiure capacity of the public sector.
In sum, the authors have done an admirable job in
attaining their goal of a politically-oriented public administration text for advanced undergraduate and beginning
graduate students. They have stressed a broad focus for
public administration incorporating political and social
influences on public administration. Students reading this
text would be hard pressed to contend that public adminislration is boring.
Kenneth J. Meier
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Organizationai America
Revisited

William G. Scott and David K. Hart, Organizational


Values in America (New Brunswick, NJ and London:
Transaction Publisbers, 1989), xiv, 196 pp.; $16.95
paper.
Scott and Hart offer this book as a sequel to their 1979
Organizationai America, a wonderfully provocative, occasionally outrageous, book. It urged creation of organizations, their precise nature not yet knowable, marked by the
traditional
American
individual
imperative.
Contemporary American organizations, dangerously
authoritarian, are dominated by the organizatiottal imperative, a value system which celebrates the health of organizations, not the freedom of individuals. Americans live in
an organizational society governed by a managerial elite
which offers despotism with comfort. The new book reaffirms the struggle against the Grand Inquisitor's vision of
a contented, submissive llock.
There bas been a revolution in the American value system, most fundamentally in denying any innate hutnan
nature. The managerial elite has persuaded Americans to
NOVEMHi'R/DECEMBER I9'.O

the organizational imperative, including bciicf in the


insignificance of ordinary persons aiul the feasibility of
organizations shaping malleable members into creatures
suited to their needs. People have become obedient, psychologically dependent, and homogenous in their subservience to the managerial elite. Cjood behavior is that
which serves She organization well. Managers are taught to
pursue the health (grt)wth and adaptability) of their organization, not morality orthc well-being of the public. To the
American consensus on the goal of material abundance
has been added the belief that "individual welfare can only
be realized through tbe modern organization and its managerial systems" (p. 39). Thus the general public supports
the organizational imperative. The inilucnce of managers
and managerial (hought pervades people's lives. A critic
may. of course, question whether liberalisin is so defeated
as the authors claim, but their argument is worthy.
The top public and private executives (business, especially, bulks large in the hook) are an intricately interconnected elite in the United States. They share ideology, language, commitment to the institutional status quo. The
"significant people,'' who tleeply influence the lives of
others, have risen slowly up the ranks to the apex ol major
organizations. They "tend to be conservative, parochial,
materialistic, unphilosophical individuals, driven by an
ethic of personal advantage" (p. 138). Moreover, they arc
failing to manage society, because they face complex
interorganizalional prohlcms. Immoral and illegal behavior in key institutions has destroyed pubiic confidence in
hierarchies and their leadership. Poorly led and disillusioned, the likely future is moral drift into totalitarianism.
That Americans are ruled by a cohesive national managerial elite is the thesis on which the book turns. Micbels
and Burnham are cited as progenitors, and the spirit seems
roughly C. Wright Mills. The difficulties in the thesis
would be well vv'otlh considering. A reader may wish that
attention had been given to works that argue the effectiveness of a plurality ot controls operating on al least governmental bureaucracies. Also, the diversify, disconnectedness, and mutual competitiveness of a variety i)f agencies,
the standard American political science image, may
require more rigorous disproof.
Scott and Flart atgue that organizations nuisl be reformulated, based on the individual imperative: the framcrs'
values. The proposition that all individuals have the natural right to actualize the potentials of their unique selves
and that the primary justification of any organizatiori is its
promotion of this actualization is basic. Though dominant, the organizational imperative is morally bankruptAmericans must reclaim the Founding Vaiucs. the individual imperative, as the moral foundation for all their institutions. This stirring argument requires one to ponder the
extent to which the ideal that organizations never treat
members as instruments, hut always as uniquely valuable
ends in themselves, can be reahzed.
In tbe earlier book, tbe autbors said that they did not yet
know what an organization based upon the individual
imperative's values might look like. Nt)w they devote a
chapter to spelling out its nature. (This, plus deletion oC a