Citizens, public administration and the search for theoretical foundations

This paper is a reproduction of the author's John Gaus lecture given in August 2003. Maintaining that a theory of administration must also be a theory of politics, it discusses the democratic tasks of public administration in serving the people rather than a ruling class.

ARENA Working Paper 20/2003 (pdf)

Johan P. Olsen

Many students of public administration have claimed, as rationale for the field, that the Prince, the President, the Legislator or the Ruling Class needs help. In contrast, John Gaus argued that it is the citizens who need help. From the latter perspective, the questions become, under what conditions is it likely that administration will provide help in democratic settings where legitimate government depends on popular consent? To help citizens effectively, does it make any difference how public administration, and in particular the relations between administrators and citizens are organized?

Tags: democracy, public administration, organization theory, participation
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM