By discussing some of the advantages and disadvantages of administration and politics dichotomy, an opinion of whether it is useful or impossible will be made. Wilson’s politics administration dichotomy refers to the idea that administrative decisions need to be made without political influence. One argument to this is that politics has transformed, let’s say, the role of a city manager from a neutral expert to a problem solver and dichotomy should be replaced with an expanded base of professional values for them.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Politics and Administration Dichotomy An advantage of having politics and administration dichotomy is that administration would not be driven by politics. Although politics give work to administration, it should not be able to make it do what it wants. Politics is a process by which disagreements and conflicts are worked out, ending with laws and policies through legislation. The purpose of politics is to provide political guidance to public administration. Political guidance is formulating and clarifying the public’s preferences and then communicating them to the public administrators.
The job of a public administrator is to provide neutral competence to the policy process. The politicians would not get involved in administration and the public administrators would have no involvement in shaping policies. Public administrators would have the role of being neutral experts who carry out the policies of the council. In order to be neutral the administrator should minimize their identification with political positions, avoid undermining the political power of elected officials, and not get involved in the battle of politics to ensure rational administrative decisions rather than bargaining based decisions.
If each public administrators and elected officials perform their tasks as assigned, the democratic accountability and planning ability of public administrators will likely increase. The disadvantage of politics administration dichotomy is that there would be no interaction and incorporation of administrative contributions in the design and the implementation of public policy. It also shields administrators from scrutiny and serves the interests of elected officials who can pass responsibility for unpopular decisions to administrators.
This strict separation of policy makers and service deliverers can lower the quality of governance and service. Then there is the topic of ethics. Neither professional standards nor individual conscience can be alone the framework for public administrative ethics but both are present. So, the downside of dichotomy is there would not be a flow of ideas and concerns between the politicians and the administrators. I think dichotomy is almost impossible to have when it comes to politics and administration, but that word should be replaced by a set of rules and values that both can follow.
The politicians should set the goal and the public administrators pave the path. I believe there needs to be communication between the two on certain topics as well. I like to use analogies, so the one that comes to mind is the relationship between officers and NCOs in the army. Officers (being the politician) and NCOs (being the public administrators) need to have a professional relationship. The officer comes to an NCO with a task (goal, mission, policy, etc. ). It is the NCO’s job to make sure his or her soldiers’ (which would be the public in this case) accomplish the task.
Regardless if the NCO agrees with the task or likes it (unless it is unsafe/illegal), it is their job to make it happen. Some officers will welcome feedback from the NCO if he or she disagrees with the task. Some officers just demand and expect. How well the NCO organizes and handles the task with his or her soldiers will have an impact on how well it will get done. The way the NCO disseminates the task can also have an effect on how the soldiers view the officer.
If the NCO agrees with the task or policy that is given, it is easier for him or her to accomplish it. I know I find it difficult to do something I don’t want to. Usually, a well-respected NCO will be able to have their soldiers accomplish any task given to them. The part where this analogy fails is that soldiers do not vote in their officers. As a public administrator, the hardest part would be to hide my beliefs and views on things, especially if I’m the one who has to implement them.
Courtney from Study Moose
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