Laurence E. Lynn Jr. University of Chicago The Myth of the Bureaucratic Paradigm: What Traditional Public Administration Really Stood For

Laurence E. Lynn Jr. University of Chicago

The Myth of the Bureaucratic Paradigm: What Traditional Public Administration Really Stood For

For a decade, public administration and management literature has featured a riveting story: the transformation of the field’s orientation from an old paradigm to a new one. While many doubt claims concerning a new paradigm—a New Public Management—few question that there was an old one. An ingrained and narrowly focused pattern of thought, a “bureaucratic paradigm,” is routinely attributed ta public administration’s traditional literature. A careful reading of that litera- ture reveals, however, that the bureaucratic paradigm is, at best, a caricature and, at worst, a demonstrable distortion of traditional thought that exhibited far more respect for law, politics, citizens, and values than the new, customer-oriented managerialism and its variants. Public ad- ministration as a profession, having let lapse the moral and intellectual authority conferred by its own traditions, mounts an unduly weak challenge to the superficial thinking and easy answers of the many new paradigms of governance and public service. As a result, literature and discourse too often lack the recognition that reformers of institutions and civic philosophies must show how the capacity to effect public purposes and accountability to the polity will be enhanced in a man- ner that comports with our Constitution and our republican institutions.

We can safely pronounce that the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration.

—Alexander Hamilton

The student of administration must… concern himself with the history of his subject, and will gain a real appreciation of existing conditions and problems only as he becomes familiar with their background.

—Leonard D. White’

Introduction^ For nearly a decade, public administration and manage- when the old habits and their brainchild, “bureaucracy,”‘

ment literature has featured a riveting story: the transfor- began to crumble under the forces of global change, mation of the field’s orientation from an old paradigm to a Ironically, the traditional paradigm now under attack was new one.-* While many in public administration doubt that declared dead more than 50 years ago by some of public there is a new paradigm”*—a “New Public Management” (Pollitt 2000)—few doubt that there was an old one. Vari- iourence E. Lynn Jr. h the Sydney Stein Jr., Professor of Public Manage-

, J 1 ui • J- >»xi a i j ^u ment in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies and ously termed the bureaucratic paradigm, the old ortho- ,/,e Schaol of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. doxy ” the “old-time religion,” or simply “traditional pub- His most recent research has focused on theories, models, methods, ond

lie administration,” an ingrained and narrowly focused etanttd’̂ pS^ncrtorprcrrel’̂ ^^^^^^^^^^^ pattern of thought is routinely attributed to public Carolyn J. Heinrich, v/as recently published by Georgetown University Press.

administration’s scholars and practitioners from the publi- J;:;°,Teto:ted’ L T S J r o T l ” t L ^ cation of Woodrow Wilson’s 1887 essay until the 1990s, E-mait:

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administration’s own intellectual leaders. Aprofession that has virtually abandoned its traditions is unlikely to defend them later. From my vantage point in an adjacent profes- sion, this state of affairs seems odd. A careful reading of the traditional literature reveals that the “old orthodoxy” is, at best, a caricature and, at worst, an outright distortion of traditional thought. The caricature better depicts the views of the judges, legislators, the increasingly powerful business community, and urban professional elites who have shaped the emerging administrative state than of the profession’s scholars, who have supplied broader, more thoughtful perspectives on practical issues of state build- ing based on their grasp of Constitutional and democratic theory and values.

In this article, I first identify those habits of thought that are attributed to traditional public administration. Next, I address the questions: How did the traditional public ad- ministration mind actually work? Does the “old orthodoxy” shoe fit? I conclude with comments about the consequences of a profession’s being unduly careless of its past.

In undertaking this analysis, several ideas have helped to bring a sprawling, heterodox literature into clearer fo- cus. Gerald Garvey (1995) succinctly summarizes the di- lemma of democratic administration as follows: “Admin- istrative action in any political system, but especially in a democracy, must somehow realize two objectives simul- taneously. It is necessary to construct and maintain admin- istrative capacity, and it is equally necessary to control it in order to ensure the responsiveness ofthe public bureau- cracy to higher authority” (87). Herbert Kaufman (1956) saw administrative institutions as having been organized and operated in pursuit, successively, of three values: rep- resentativeness, neutral competence, and executive lead- ership. “The shift,” he says, “from one to another gener- ally appears to have occurred as a consequence of the difficulties encountered in the period preceding the change” (1057). Barry Karl (1976) notes the consequences of the American commitment to democratic compromise. Re- forms, he argues “tended to institutionalize defeated op- positions…. The result is often to sustain in the new ad- ministrative structure … the old opposition and to give that opposition a lifeline to continuity” (495). Finally, ac- cording to James Morone (1990), “The institutions de- signed to enhance democracy expand the scope and au- thority of the state, especially its administrative capacity. A great irony propels American political development: the search for more direct democracy builds up the bureau- cracy” (1). Regimes do not simply succeed one another; rather, institutions, ideas, and values are woven into the complex institutional fabric that constitutes democratic governance.

My argument is based on a selective reconsideration of the literature, not the practice of public administration.

Relying on literature is not altogether satisfactory: Authors are not always clear or consistent, and differing interpreta- tions of their views are possible. A thorough reconsidera- tion ought to include a sociological analysis of thought and practice. The historian Karl (1976) suggests that the popularity of a particular work or idea may owe as much to one’s affection for the author or to the prestige an au- thor confers on the field than to its intellectual merit. In- tramural rivalries of a personal or professional nature doubt- less play a role in the way ideas have been selected or rejected, but that is a subject for another essay.

What Is the Traditional Paradigm? Public administration literature contains both retrospec-

tive accounts of traditional thinking and summaries of such thinking found in the traditional literature itself.

Retrospective Views Retrospective critics of traditional thinking tend to cite

relatively few sources, so it is not always clear whose hab- its of mind are at issue. The wellsprings of tradition appar- ently are to be found primarily in Woodrow Wilson’s fa- mous 1887 lecture, in the works of Frederick Taylor, Max Weber, and Luther Gulick, and in the report of the President’s Committee on Administrative Management— the Brownlow Report (1937). Less widely known authors such as Frank J. Goodnow, Leonard D. White, and W. F. Willoughby are cited only occasionally*

The assault on traditional thinking began with the well- known critiques of scientific principles of administration by Herbert A. Simon and Robert A. Dahl (Simon 1946, 1947; Dahl 1947). Their criticisms—that such principles were inconsistent and unscientific—were quickly endorsed and embellished by mainstream public administrationists, notably Dwight Waldo and Wallace Sayre. As a result, a new, revisionist interpretation of traditional thinking be- came the conventional wisdom in the profession.^

Waldo’s view was unequivocal. In The Administrative State (1948), he subjected orthodoxy to devastating criti- cism: “The indictment against public administration can only be that, at the theoretical level, it has contributed little to the ‘solution’ or even the systematic statement of [fun- damental] problems” (101), producing instead “a spate of shallow and spurious answers” (102). Public administra- tion, he concluded, “is only now freeing itself from a strait jacket of its own devising—the instrumentalist philoso- phy of the politics-administration formula—that has lim- ited its breadth and scope” (208). “[S]ince publication of the Papers [on the Science of Administration] in 1937,” Waldo wrote in 1961 (see also Gulick and Urwick [1937]), “a generation of younger students have demolished the classical theory, again and again; they have uprooted it.

The Myth of the Bureaucratic Paradigm 145

threshed it, thrown most of it away. By and large, the criti- cisms of the new generation have been well-founded. In many ways the classical theory was crude, presumptuous, incomplete—wrong in some of its conclusions, naive in its scientific methodology, parochial in its outlook” (220). In 1968, Waldo insisted that postwar intellectual challenges had “brought public administration to the point of crisis, of possible collapse and disintegration” (4), a viewpoint echoed by Vincent Ostrom in 1973. Waldo’s critique has been accepted as definitive. “[T]o the best of my memory,” said Frank Marini, “the terms ‘orthodox public adminis- tration’ and ‘politics-administration dichotomy’ appear first in Waldo’s statements (and the import of these concepts and their infiuence upon our field has been profound if not always obvious)” (1993, 412).«

Sayre (1951, 1958) further stigmatized traditional pub- lic administration with his reference to “the high noon of orthodoxy,” achieved with the 1937 publication of Gulick and Urwick’s Papers and the Brownlow Report. In Sayre’s view, the underlying orthodoxy had first been codified in Leonard White’s Introduction to the Study of Public Ad- ministration (1926) and in W. F. Willoughby’s Principles of Public Administration (1927), which espoused, accord- ing to Sayre, “a closely knit set of values, confidently and incisively presented” (1951, 1): the politics-administra- tion dichotomy, scientific management, the executive bud- get, scientific personnel management, neutral competence, and control by administrative law. Sayre, like Waldo, de- clared these values obsolete and applauded the field’s movement toward heterodoxy.^

In the early 1970s, the public policy schools’ pro- genitors, perhaps unaware that traditional doctrine was already widely regarded as dead and without intellec- tual traditions of their own, piled on, charging traditional public administration with insufficient rigor and an af- finity for institutional description rather than analysis of choice and action (Lynn 1996)—failings, it must be noted, that these schools have since shown little incli- nation to remedy. The latter-day flogging of orthodoxy by outsiders gathered momentum with two highly in- fluential publications in 1992.

To an academic audience, the Kennedy School’s Michael Barzelay described traditional public administration in terms of a “bureaucratic paradigm.” Its essence was “the prescribed separation between substance and institutional administration within the administration component ofthe politics/administration dichotomy” (1992, 179, n.l8). Barzelay summarized the bureaucratic paradigm first in a series of normative principles and then in a series of asser- tions used to set off the postbureaucratic paradigm he fa- vored. In Barzelay’s view, a bureaucratic agency is focused on its own needs and perspectives and on the roles and responsibilities of the parts; defines itself both by the

amount of resources it controls and by the tasks it per- forms; controls costs; sticks to routine; fights for turf; in- sists on following standard procedures; announces poli- cies and plans; and separates the work of thinking from that of doing (8-9).

In David Osborne and Ted Gaebler’s immensely infiu- ential Reinventing Government (1992), they argued that, “American society embarked on a gigantic effort to con- trol what went on inside government—to keep the politi- cians and bureaucrats from doing anything that might en- danger the public interest or purse…. In attempting to control virtually everything, we became so obsessed with dictating how things should be done—regulating the pro- cess, controlling the inputs—that we ignored the outcomes, the results” (14). Bureaucratic government had been ap- propriate, Osborne and Gaebler said, for the conditions that prevailed until roughly the 1960s and 1970s. But those conditions have been swept away, and new forms of gov- ernance have begun to emerge, first at the local level, then more broadly.'”

The Barzelay-Osbome-Gaebler line of argument has caught on with many both inside and outside of public administration. From the policy schools, Mark Moore (1995), dismissing traditional public administration as merely “politically neutral competence,” asserted that

… [T]he classic tradition of public administration does not focus a manager’s attention on questions of purpose and value or on the development of le- gitimacy and support. The classic tradition assumes that these questions have been answered in the de- velopment ofthe organization’s legislative or policy mandate … managers must pursue the downward- and inward-looking tasks of deploying available re- sources to achieve the mandated objectives as effi- ciently as possible. In accomplishing this goal, man- agers rely on their administrative expertise in wielding the instruments of internal managerial in- fluence: organizational design, budgeting, human resource development, and management control. (74)

From inside the profession, Robert B. Denhardt and Janet Vinzant Denhardt (2000) similarly dismiss “old public administration” as neutral, hostile to discretion and to citi- zen involvement, uninvolved in policy, parochial, and nar- rowly focused on efficiency.”

That there was an old orthodoxy has thus become the new orthodoxy. The essence of traditional public adminis- tration is repeatedly asserted to be the design and defense of a largely self-serving, Weberian bureaucracy that was to be strictly insulated from politics and that justified its actions based on a technocratic, one-best-way “science of administration.” Facts were to be separated from values, politics from administration, and policy from implemen-

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tation. Traditional administration is held to be sluggish, rigid, rule bound, centralized, insular, self-protective, and profoundly antidemocratic. In Garvey’s terms, the tradi- tional paradigm is thought to be preoccupied with capac- ity, to the almost total neglect of democratic control.

Contemporaneous Views Interestingly, numerous paradigms or synopses of tra-

ditional premises and values are found in the traditional literature itself. • Charles E. Merriam (1926) summarized the late Progres-

sive view of the “outstanding features in the develop- ment of institutions and the theory of the executive branch of the government” as “(1) [t]he strengthening of the prestige of the executive and the development of the idea of executive leadership and initiative … (2) [t]he development of a new tendency toward expertness and efficiency in democratic administration … and (3) [t]he tendency toward administrative consolidation and cen- tralization” (126-7).

• In a monograph prepared for President Hoover’s Re- search Committee on Social Trends, Leonard White (1933) summarized the “New Management” as “a con- temporary philosophy of administration” which had been concisely summarized in a series of principles by Gov- ernor William T. Gardner of Maine on January 21,1931: consolidation and integration in departments of similar functions; fixed and definite assignments of administra- tive responsibility; proper coordination in the interests of harmony; executive responsibility centered in a single individual rather than a board (144).

• Schuyler Wallace (1941) believed the thinking of the New York Bureau of Municipal Research to be seminal, and he identified seven essential elements: the centrality of the executive budget; an “integrated administrative sys- tem, departmentalized and coordinated… subject to leg- islative scrutiny” (15); personnel administration; a cen- tral purchasing system; systematic legislative review of the budget; a planning and advisory staff; and a scheme of accounts and controls.

• Both Sayre (1958) and Van Riper (1987) provided codi- fied summaries ofthe traditional bureaucratic paradigm, including some of the Weberian formulas derided by contemporary critics. Critics might also have quoted, albeit out of context,

Frank Goodnow (1900)—”The necessity for this separa- tion of politics from administration is very marked in the case of municipal government” (84)—and White (1927), who said, “It ought to be possible in this country to sepa- rate politics from administration. Sound administration can develop and continue only if this separation can be achieved. Over a century, they have been confused, with evil results beyond measure…. [T]heir job is to administer

the affairs ofthe city with integrity and efficiency and loy- alty to the council, without participating in or allowing their work to be affected by contending programs or parti- sans” (301).’2

Why haven’t critics of orthodoxy simply taken these self- characterizations as its authentic expression? Inadequate scholarship might be one reason. But such complex charac- terizations are obviously embedded in a wider intellectual and historical context that makes ahistorical and out-of-con- text interpretations and “out-of-hand” pejorative dismissals plainly suspect. A caricature serves polemical ends better than scrupulous historical scholarship. As we shall see, the story that emerges fi”om such scholarship is quite incongru- ous with the critics’ caricatures.

Traditional Thinking: A Reconsideration Even if the roster of traditional authors is restricted to

those cited most often by critics, the case for a traditional paradigm is surprisingly shaky. Wilson’s 1887 article wasn’t widely read or cited until it was reprinted in 1941 (Fesler and Kettl 1991; Van Riper 1987);’^ Weber’s 1911- 13 work on bureaucracy wasn’t available in English trans- lation or cited in the United States until after World War II. Weber, Taylor, and, arguably, even Wilson were not closely associated with the profession of public administration, and scholars have convincingly refuted interpretations of Wil- son, Goodnow, and Gulick as advocating a politics-ad- ministration dichotomy. Moreover, traditional authors whose habits of thought seem to be at issue if an entire profession is to be denounced are simply ignored. To know what traditional public administration really stood for re- quires a much more scrupulous look at its literature.

The Classical Period In its first century, the American state was

prebureaucratic. Administrative officers—a great many of them elected—functioned independently of executive au- thority, with funds appropriated directly to their offices (Merriam 1926).'” According to Waldo, “The lack of a strong tradition of administrative action … contributed to … public servants acting more or less in their private ca- pacities” (1948, 11).’̂ A “spoils system” governed nine- teenth-century selection and control of administrators (Rosenbloom 1998; White 1954, 1965),”* and haphazard oversight of administration was exercised by legislators, political parties, and the courts (White 1933).’^

The gradual emergence of permanent government (be- ginning in the latter part of the nineteenth century) cre- ated considerable confusion about the nature of adminis- trative responsibility. As Frederick Mosher (1968) noted, “The rise of representative democracy in the Western countries … resulted in contests for political control of

The Myth of the Bureaucratic Paradigm 147

administration … and recognition of the need for a per- manent, protected and specialized civil service” (5). At the federal level, argued Stephen Skowronek (1982), “As the American state was being fortified with an indepen- dent arm of national administrative action, it was also becoming mired in operational confusion…. The national administrative apparatus was freed from the clutches of party domination, direct court supervision, and localistic orientations only to be thrust into the center of an amor- phous new institutional politics” (286-7). Issues relating to control of the regulatory state divided president and party and left administrative officials with no clear defi- nition of political responsibility (Skowronek 1982,212).’* This practical and intellectual void encouraged scholars to pursue clarity.

Foundations Reconciling the emerging tensions between creating

adequate administrative capacity and ensuring that it was under firm democratic control became the intellectual project facing scholars concemed with defining and un- derstanding public administration. The most significant were Woodrow Wilson, Frank Goodnow, and Frederick Cleveland. They appeared to share the idea of assigning primary, but not exclusive, responsibility for establishing collective purposes (politics) and for carrying out these purposes (administration) to separate spheres: the legisla- ture and the administrative state, respectively. That this subtle idea would be reduced to the simplistic politics- administration dichotomy should not obscure its original intellectual subtlety and practical merit.

Early readers of Wilson scarcely remarked upon his so- called dichotomy. Anna Haddow’s (1939) pre-World War II assessment of “The Study of Administration” did not mention it; she noted instead that Wilson saw administra- tion as reform, a solution to the governmental problems of the day. More recently. Walker (1990) argued that “Wil- son never sought to erect a strong wall between politics and administration. In his lectures and writings after 1887, Wilson backtracked considerably from the strong dichotomistic expressions in the 1887 essay” (85). His pri- mary influence as a scholar lay in his contributions to the political reform movement of his day and to the emergence of academic public administration (87).”

Frank Goodnow (1900) offered a more coherent per- spective on the distinctive roles of politics and administra- tion.^” Goodnow argued that politics and administration constitute separate spheres of governance to preclude un- due political and judicial interference in the performance of administrative tasks.^’ In explicating this distinction, Goodnow was careful to disavow the implication that each sphere was the province of a separate branch of govern- ment. His subtle argument was that “[t]he great complex-

ity of political conditions makes it practically impossible for the same governmental organ to be intrusted in equal degree with the discharge of both [politics and administra- tion]” (10). According to Haddow, Goodnow’s purpose was “to show that the formal governmental system as set forth in the law is not always the same as the actual system, and to suggest remedies to make the actual system conform to the political ideas upon which the formal system is based” (1939,251).

While Goodnow held that the executive function was subject to “the expression ofthe state will” (1900,9ff, 79), he also noted that the “semi-scientific, quasi-judicial, and quasi-business or commercial” functions of administration might be relieved from the control of political bodies (1900, 85).̂ ^ In lieu of political control, officials charged with executing the law conceming such functions were to be subject to the control of judicial authorities upon the ap- plication of aggrieved parties.^Hn advancing this complex scheme, Goodnow was prescient, perfectly expressing the dilemma of reconciling capacity with control:

[D]etailed legislation and judicial control over its execution are not sufficient to produce harmony be- tween the governmental body which expresses the will of the state, and the governmental authority which executes that will…. The executive officers may or may not enforce the law as it was intended by the legislature. Judicial officers, in exercising control over such executive officers, may or may not take the same view of the law as did the legisla- ture. No provision is thus made in the governmental organization for securing hannony between the ex- pression and the execution of the will of the state. The people, the ultimate sovereign in a popular gov- ernment, must … have a control over the officers who execute their will, as well as over those who express it. (97-8)

V. O. Key Jr. (1942) argued the notion that politics and administration are compartmentalized is “a perversion of Goodnow’s doctrine” (146). “[Goodnow] saw that ‘prac- tical political necessity makes impossible the consideration of the function of politics apart from that of administra- tion'” (146). Goodnow expressed this view as follows: “That administrative hierarchies have profound influence on the course of legislative policy is elementary” (1900, 24). Merriam (1926) interpreted Goodnow this way: “[H]e drew a line between political officials who are properly elective and the administrative officials, who are properly appointive. ‘Politics’ should supervise and control ‘admin- istration,’ but should not extend this control farther than is necessary for the main purpose” (142). Merriam cites Goodnow and Wilson in urging us to think “less of separa- tion of functions and more of the synthesis and action” (142). Paul Appleby (1949) believed that “Goodnow’s early

148 Public Administration Review • March/April 2001, Vol. 61, No. 2

discussion drew a line less abrupt between policy and ad- ministration than some who later quoted him” care to ac- knowledge (16).2^

While Frederick A. Cleveland was a founder of the New York Bureau of Municipal Research, he was also the author of The Growth of Democracy in the United States (1898). In that work, he advocated “studying po- litical life as a continuous process” (vi) and enumerated the problems that reformed government should address: “incompetency in office … inequality in elections … the employment of the spoils system in appointments … the corruption of our legislatures … the subversion of mu- nicipal government in the interest of organized spolia- tion” (387). To Cleveland, expansion of the civil service would lead to a government to which every citizen could, in principle, aspire rather than constituting a class-based fiefdom, as in Germany and Great Britain (see also W. W. Willoughby 1919).

Cleveland introduced his book Organized Democracy (1913) as follows: “The picture drawn [in this book] is one of the continuing evolution of the means devised by organized citizenship for making its will effective; for determining what the government shall be, and what the government shall do; for making the qualified voter an efficient instrument through which the will of the people may be expressed; for making officers both responsive and responsible … government should exist for common welfare” (v). The contemporary problem, he argued, “is to provide the means whereby the acts of governmental agents may be made known to the people—to supply the link which is missing between the government and citi- zenship” (454).

Cleveland was undoubtedly a technocrat, but not the kind derided by contemporary critics. “Technically,” he said, “the problem is to supply a procedure which will enable the people to obtain information about what is being planned and how plans are being executed—infor- mation needed to make the sovereign will an enlightened expression on subjects of welfare” (454-5). To Cleve- land, “a budget, a balance sheet, an operation account, a detail individual efficiency record and report, a system of cost accounts, and a means for obtaining a detail state- ment of costs” were means by which government could be made transparent to citizens. His entire goal was “an enlightened people” and “an informed public conscience” (465), as well as a government that provided service to the people to counter “the threatened dominancy of a privileged class and of institutions inconsistent with the spirit of democracy” (26).

Early Textbooks Public administration, Wilson had argued, was a field

of business. Businesslike professionalism in public admin-

istration was given content by Frederick Taylor’s (1911) ideas conceming scientific management, which divided formal responsibility for administration between a mana- gerial group and a group that performed the work. This division of labor—that is, between those who are manag- ing (“figuring out what to do and how to do it”) and those who are working (“doing it”)—became popular in both business and public administration practice. Organization and management came into the foreground.

In the profession’s first textbook, published in 1926, Leonard White focused on the organization and manage- ment ofthe bureaucratic state. He took pains to rebuke the public law tradition, arguing that “[t]he study of adminis- tration should start from the base of management rather than the foundation of law, and is therefore more absorbed in the affairs of the American Management Association than in the decisions ofthe courts” (White 1926, preface).̂ -̂ At the same time, he acknowledged the “traditional evils of bureaucracy,” noting that “[t]he action of the adminis- tration has now become so important and touches such varied interests” that means must be found “to ensure that the acts of administrative officers shall be consistent not only with the law but equally with the purposes and tem- per of the mass of citizens” (1935, 420, 419). In other words, capacity and control go hand in hand.

In his 1927 textbook Principles of Public Administra- tion, W.F. Willoughby saw the task of administrators as establishing an appropriate formal organization and ensur- ing adequate constraints on the administrator. Willoughby’s was an “institutional” (or what we would today call a “struc- tural”) approach to administration in which “the emphasis is shifted from legal rules and cases to the formal frame- work and procedures of the administrative machine” (Dimock 1936a, 7). His preface reveals his purpose: “[I]t is now recognized that, if anything, a popularly controlled government is one which is peculiarly prone to financial extravagances and administrative inefficiency” (1927, viii). Thus the separation of powers needed to be reconsidered, administrative responsibility centralized and coordinated, and the new, highly technical tasks of government held to standards of efficiency and honesty no lower than those operative in the business world. In other words, to Willoughby, efficient bureaucracy was a solution to the manifold problems of democratic governance.

White and Willoughby can be understood, then, as at- tempting to advance the democratic project in America that had been systematically assayed by Wilson, Goodnow, and Cleveland. But, as Sayre (1958) noted, “In these pioneer texts the responsibility of administrative agencies to popu- lar control was a value taken-for-granted” (103), that is, it was paradigmatic. A new logic of democratic control that challenged the premises ofthe spoils system had begun to take form: Bureaucratic, technocratic government subject

The Myth of the Bureaucratic Paradigm 149

to judicial oversight was a way to ensure transparent gov- ernance that would be obedient and accountable to the con- stitutionally expressed public will.

Consolidation From the appearance of the first textbooks until Sayre’s

“high noon of orthodoxy”—a conservative era during which the public elected Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover to the presidency—^Leonard White, John Dickinson, John Gaus, Marshall Dimock, and Pendleton Herring, among others, probed issues of democratic governance more deeply.

Dickinson (1927) considered the proper role of the courts, troublesome opponents of legislative delegation of power to administrators, in the emerging administrative state: “[W]ithin the field of matters which do not admit of reduction to hard and fast rules, but must be trusted to the discretion of the adjudicating body, can we say that there is a regime of law?…. It would be unfortunate, if it were possible, for men to commit all their decisions to minds which run in legal grooves. The needs of the moment, the circumstances of the particular case, all that we mean and express by the word ‘policy,’ have an importance which professional lawyers do not always allow to them” (150- 1). He drew a fundamental distinction between adminis- trative adjudication in regulation and in “matters as to which the government is a direct party in interest, i.e., the distri- bution of pensions or public lands, collection of the rev- enue, direct governmental performance of public services and the like” (156). He asked: “If … we … imply that the main purpose of the technical agency is to adjudicate ac- cording to rules, will we not have abandoned the charac- teristic and special advantages of a system of administra- tive justice, which consists in a union of legislative, executive, and judicial functions in the same body to se- cure promptness of action, and the freedom to arrive at decisions based on policy?” (156).

John Gaus (1931) called attention to “the increasing role of the public servant in the determination of policy, through either the preparation of legislation or the mak- ing of rules under which general legislative policy is given meaning and application” (123). He called for more ex- tended inquiry into the “relationship between represen- tatives of ‘pressure groups’ … the political heads, legis- lative committees, and permanent civil servants or semi-judicial administrative commissions” (124). He noted the contributions to “the techniques of public man- agement” (130) of extra-legal organizations, such as as- sociations of government professionals, functionally-ori- ented study/advocacy organizations, and new institutions of governmental research.

In a monograph prepared for President Hoover’s Re- search Committee on Social Trends, White (1933) argued that strong central administration was an antidote to the

centrifugal forces of the spoils system still prevalent in local government.^”Owing to pressure from organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, interests engaged in foreign commerce, and the demands for administering relief, administrative power should be further consolidated. White noted the proliferation of [good government] orga- nizations pressing for efficient administration: the National Municipal League, the Governmental Research Associa- tion, the state Leagues of Municipalities, the American Municipal Association, the National Legislators Associa- tion, and the Public Administration Clearing House (5). But, he warned, “We have not been deeply concerned on the whole with more effective ways and means of citizen participation in administration … [or] with developing machinery for employee participation … [or] with the fun- damental alteration of administrative relations between federal and state governments” (4-5).

In 1936, Gaus, White, and Dimock produced a remark- able little book that still repays careful reading. Frontiers of Public Administration. In it, Dimock enunciated an ex- pansive view of the public manager’s role: “Those who view administrative action as simple commands … fail to comprehend the extent to which administration is called upon to help formulate policy and to fashion important realms of discretion in our modern democracies” (1936c, 127). He held that “[t]he important problem is the manner in which discretion is exercised and the safeguards against abuse of power which are provided” (1936b, 60).

Gaus (1936a) expatiated on his ideas concerning demo- cratic participation: “Much of the effort of public admin- istration today is rightly expended upon establishing pro- cedures and agencies whereby the general policy enacted in the law is given precision and application with the ac- tive collaboration of groups of citizens most affected…. [O]nly this process of conference, adjustment, statement and restatement of facts and opinions will bring any wide- spread conviction to a substantial group of citizens that the resulting policy is their policy and that the administra- tors of it are their officials” (89). He noted “the fact of the contemporary delegation of wide discretionary powers by electorates, constitutions, and legislatures to the adminis- trators. They must, of necessity, determine some part of the purpose and a large part of the means whereby it will be achieved in the modem state” (91). Thus, “[u]nless [the civil servant’s] sense of responsibility is encouraged, the responsibility of administration is incomplete, negative, and extemal” (1936b, 43-4).

In Public Administration and the Public Interest, not- ing that “… the despised bureaus are in a sense the cre- ations of their critics”(15). Herring (1936) explored the tensions between administrative capacity and popular sov- ereignty. “The bureaucrat… does not suffer so much from an inability to execute the law unhampered as from an

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uncertainty in direction. Where is the official to look for guidance on the broad plain of public interest?”(22). On one hand, he argued, “the bureaucracy must be guarded from domination by economic groups or social classes. On the other hand, it must be kept free of the abuses of aloof, arbitrary, and irresponsible behavior to which pub- lic servants are so often prone…. In short, it must not de- velop a group interest within itself that will become its raison d’etre” (384). To preclude such aloofness, “Consul- tation with the persons and groups most directly concemed must … become a regular feature of administration. This is the greatest safeguard against arbitrary or ill-considered action”

Thus, we find in the habits of thought characteristic of classical public administration a recognition ofthe policy- making role of civil servants, the inevitability of admin- istrative discretion, the importance of persuading the courts to formally recognize the necessity for adminis- trative discretion, the concomitant requirement for respon- sible conduct by managers and civil servants, and the necessity for ensuring that citizens can somehow partici- pate actively in matters affecting their well-being based on adequate information.

High Noon It is against this background that we must assess Sayre’s

assertion that the 1937 publication of Gulick and Urwick’s Papers and the Brownlow Report implied that “adminis- tration was perceived as a self-contained world, with its own separate values, rules, and methods” (1958, 102). As should be clear by now, it is difficult to find a justification for this assertion in the literature.

Not long after these momentous 1937 publications. White, in the 1939 revision of his textbook, said that “[a] responsible administration, cherished and strengthened by those to whom it is responsible, is one ofthe principal foun- dations ofthe modem democratic state” (578). Charles A. Beard cited as an axiom or aphorism of public administra- tion that “[u]nless the members of an administrative sys- tem … are subjected to intemal and extemal criticism of a constructive nature, then the public personnel will become a bureaucracy dangerous to society and to popular gov- ernment” (1940,234). Gaus and Wolcott (1940) asked: “At what point in the evolution of policies in the life of the community shall the process take place of transforming a specialist point of view and program, through compromise and adjustment, into a more balanced public program?” Their answer was that “[m]uch of this process must take place in the administrative agencies through the selection of personnel, their continued in-service training, the con- tent and discipline of their professions, researches, and responsibilities, and attrition of inter-bureau and inter-de- partment contact and association, and the scrutiny of their

work by the over-all administrative staff and auxiliary agen- cies and by Congress. If there is the proper attention to these matters, the viewpoint of the civil service will differ from the surrogacy that one expects from the officials of a pressure group” (283).

In his deeply analytical Federal Departmentalization (1941), Schuyler Wallace scorned the notions that orga- nization could be designed by rote application of abstract principles or that administration could be a true science. “That administrative hierarchies have profound influence on the course of legislative policy,” said V. O. Key Jr. in a volume honoring Brownlow Committee member Charles Merriam, “is elementary” (1942, 146).^Hn fact. Key said, “The close communion of pressure group, con- gressional bloc, and subordinate elements of the admin- istrative hierarchy obstructs central direction in the gen- eral interest” (152). The view that “administrative hierarchies” are “will-less instruments wielded by politi- cians,” said Key, is “not now widely held” (160). In the same volume. White (1942) quoted Merriam and his col- leagues on the Brownlow Committee: “The safeguard- ing of the citizen from narrow-minded and dictatorial bureaucratic interference and control is one of the pri- mary obligations of democratic government” (212). Said White, “A formal system of responsibility is … essen- tial; it is unsafe to rely wholly on official codes and a sense of inner responsibility; but, on the other hand, a formal system in itself is inadequate” (215). Charles Hyneman (1945) argued, “The essential feature of demo- cratic government lies in the ability of the people to con- trol the individuals who have political power” (310).

As these excerpts suggest, the literature ofthe “high noon” period was rife with insightful commentary about demo- cratic govemance. Where is Sayre’s “self-contained world”?

Controversies Skepticism that there was a close-knit “orthodoxy” in

traditional thinking deepens when reviewing the period’s two great controversies conceming the administrative state: the debate over the Walter-Logan Act and the Friedrich- Finer debate over administrative responsibility.

The Walter-Logan Act The issue of executive control of administration from

an administrative law perspective came into sharp focus in the period surrounding the enactment and veto of the Walter-Logan Bill (H.R. 6324, 76th Congress [1939]). Dean Roscoe Pound (1942) argued that administrative agencies are under none of the safeguards that character- ize judicial proceedings, especially when they are engaged in adjudication and thus acting as prosecutor and judge in the same case. He advocated stringent procedural safe-

The Myth of the Bureaucratic Paradigm 151

guards. In contrast, supporters ofthe New Deal urged that, in the absence of relevant standards, narrow procedural safeguards and private law values were an inadequate ba- sis for defining administrative jurisdiction and responsi- bility in the welfare state.

Inspired partly by anti-New Deal sentiment and partly by a desire (supported by the American Bar Association) to harness federal agencies and their haphazard approach to rule making. Congress enacted the Walter-Logan Bill.^” According to Don K. Price (1959), the act established “a single rigid method for the issuing of regulations” (484). The act allowed anyone significantly affected by an ad- ministrative rule to challenge that rule in federal court, and it required agencies to issue rules within a year of authori- zation to do so. President Roosevelt vetoed it, calling it the result of “repeated efforts by a combination of lawyers who desire to have all the processes of government con- ducted through lawsuits and of interests which desire to escape regulation” (Breyer, Stewart, Sunstein, and Spitzer 1998, 22). He acknowledged the legitimacy of the issue by appointing the Attorney General’s Committee on Ad- ministrative Procedure to study procedural reform of ad- ministrative law. The governor of New York appointed Robert Benjamin to do the same thing. The resulting re- ports “agreed that the courts could not do the job the ad- ministrative agencies were doing, and that the administra- tive agencies themselves could not do it if anyone made them imitate the court” (Price 1959, 485). The Adminis- trative Procedure Act of 1946 was a compromise between New Dealers, who had engineered the veto of the Walter- Logan Bill in 1940, and the Attorney General’s commis- sion, which had made its report in 1941.^’

Friedrich, Finer, and Administrative Responsibility

Within political science, Carl J. Friedrich and Herman Finer were debating the nature of administrative respon- sibility. Finer (1940) doubted that a sense of duty, the conscience of the official, “is sufficient to keep a civil service wholesome and zealous” Thus political responsi- bility must be introduced as the adamant monitor of the public service. “[T]he first commandment,” he argued, “is Subservience” (335). Finer cited Rousseau: The people can be unwise, but they cannot be wrong. He acknowl- edged the many “drawback[s] of political control” but said they could be remedied, and their consequences were less ominous than those of granting administrators addi- tional discretion. “[T]he result to be feared is the enhance- ment of official conceit” (340). He goes on: “Moral re- sponsibility is likely to operate in direct proportion to the strictness and efficiency of political responsibility, and to fall away into all sorts of perversions when the latter is weakly enforced” (350).

Friedrich’s (1940) argument had two parts. First, “Pub- lic policy, to put it flatly, is a continuous process, the for- mation of which is inseparable from its execution…. Poli- tics and administration play a continuous role in both formation and execution, though there is probably more politics in the formation of policy, more administration in the execution of it” (6). Second, “[W]e have a right to call … a policy irresponsible if it can be shown that it was adopted without proper regard to the existing sum of hu- man knowledge conceming the technical issues involved” or that “it was adopted without proper regard for existing preferences in the community, and more particularly its prevailing majority…. Any policy which violates either standard, or which fails to crystallize in spite of their ur- gent imperatives, renders the official responsible for it li- able to the charge of irresponsible conduct” (12).’^ Spe- cialists with a passion for impartiality and objectivity, he argued, will know when to shrink from arbitrary and rash decisions and when to await the expression ofthe “will of the people” (1946, 413).

These controversies suggest that public administration was passionately engaged with the problems and dilem- mas of balancing capacity and control.

Death in the Afternoon What happened in the immediate postwar world is surely

the most puzzling development in the intellectual history of public administration, at least to an outsider. At a time of seemingly robust heterodoxy, when traditional thought had identified but had hardly resolved fundamental issues of democratic govemance, Herbert Simon and Robert A. Dahl brought an influential profession to its knees by at- tacking the seemingly innocuous tendency of Gulick and others to assert scientific principles of administration. Such principles are unscientific and inconsistent, they argued, and a public administration based on them scarcely de- serves respect.

Both Sayre and Waldo, who were thoroughly familiar with the pre-war literature, urged the intellectual redirec- tion of the field, celebrating not so much the behavioralism of Simon as what they saw as an emergent heterodoxy of public administration literature following World War 11. Said Sayre, “Our values … have moved from a stress upon the managerial techniques of organi- zation and management to an emphasis upon the broad sweep of public policy—its formulation, its evolution, its execution, all either within or intimately related to the frame of administration” (1958, 4).

Thus tradition was dead, stuffed, and mounted on the wall. Or was it? Did the contributions of the postwar lit- erature constitute a sharp departure from traditional think- ing, as Sayre and Waldo claimed?

152 Public Administration Review • March/April 2001, Vol. 61, No. 2

Voices from the Grave Surely an era of heterodoxy had ensued, although it is

beyond the scope of this article to assay it. But the voice of traditional public administration continued to be heard.” Paul Appleby, Charles Hyneman, John Gaus, John Millett, Arthur Macmahon, Herbert Kaufman, Fdtz Morstein Marx, Frederick Mosher, and Emmette Redford, among others, continued to influence the profession’s agenda in ways that were entirely consonant with the traditional theme of demo- cratically responsible public management, though with perhaps less emphasis on administrative capacity.

Lauded by Sayre as a postorthodox thinker, Paul Appleby (1949) argued the pre-war theme that “adequate centralization of responsibility for performance ofthe func- tion agreed upon at the level agreed upon is essential to popular control” (162). Why? “Public administration is policy-making. But it is not autonomous, exclusive or iso- lated policy-making. It is policy-making on a field where mighty forces contend, forces engendered in and by the society. It is policy-making subject to still other and vari- ous policy-makers. Public administration is one of a num- ber of basic political processes by which this people achieves and controls govemance” (170).

In an incisively argued book, Charles Hyneman, con- cemed that bureaucracy might otherwise act in a manner inimical to the public interest, argued that elected officials must be our primary reliance for direction and control (1950, 6). There must, he said, be “a structure of govem- ment which enables the elected officials really to run the govemment” (15).”’ Conceding “that the administrative official cannot obtain from the political branches of the govemment all of the guidance he needs” (52), Hyneman nonetheless argued that other methods for obtaining guid- ance must supplement, not replace or supplant, political direction. “The American people have authorized nobody except their elected officials to speak for them” (52).

According to Gaus (1950), “The fact is that administra- tion is an aspect, a process, of every phase of govemment, from the first diagnosis of an emerging problem by a chem- ist in a health department to the final enforcement in detail of a resulting statute and regulation” (165). Thus, we must “steer between the extremes of a vague, general, ambigu- ous comprehensiveness without savor or focus, and a re- finement and specialization that detaches us from the tang and urgency of human action” (166). He famously con- cluded: “A theory of public administration means in our time a theory of politics also” (168).

Like Gaus, John Millett (1954) had much to say about politics and administration:

Are administrative agencies … to be regarded as a ‘fourth branch’ of govemment? I believe that they have no such exalted status. Rather, they are a kind

of subordinate echelon of govemment subject in our scheme of things to the supervision of legislature, chief executive, and judiciary…. The administrator in the public service is concemed with all three, and ignores any one branch only at his peril. So it seems to me that the politics of public administration is concemed with how administrative agencies in our govemment are kept subject to popular direction and restraint in the interests of a free society, through the operation of three coordinate branches, (vii-viii)

In a discussion of public management that rebuked con- temporary critics, Millett said that “[t]he challenge to any administrator is to overcome obstacles, to understand and master problems, to use imagination and insight in devis- ing new goals of public service. No able administrator can be content to be simply a good caretaker. He seeks rather to review the ends of organized effort and to advance the goals of administrative endeavor toward better public ser- vice” (401). But, Millett went on, “[I]n a democratic soci- ety this questing is not guided solely by the administrator’s own personal sense of desirable social ends…. Manage- ment guided by [the value of responsible performance] abhors the idea of arbitrary authority present in its own wisdom and recognizes the reality of extemal direction and constraint” (401, 403).

In Arthur Macmahon’s view, “Our main problem lies where the law imposes a special purpose while it leaves some leeway for judgment. What is the bearing of the public interest in such a situation?” (1955, 38). His an- swer was that “[t]he essence of rational structure for any purpose frequently lies in recognizing how far adminis- tration is an argumentative as well as a deliberative pro- cess that goes on within the frame of legislation” (40). The safeguards against misuse of discretion or poor judg- ment concerning legislative intent “lie in attitudes that should be diffused throughout administration” or a “per- spective of public interest” (50).

In reviewing the values goveming administration and their interrelationships, Kaufman (1956) noted that “the quest for neutral competence has normally been made not as an altemative to representativeness, but as a fulfillment of it” (1060), valued at least as much by the public as by civil servants themselves. But representativeness and neu- tral competence tended to produce fragmentation. The an- swer was to build up the power of the chief executive to ensure executive leadership as the counterforce. Kaufman stressed, however, that neutral competence and its succes- sor, executive leadership, nonetheless acknowledged rep- resentativeness as their goveming value.

In his book on the administrative state, Morstein Marx (1957) listed four essentials of administration: “(1) the es- sential of rationality, (2) the essential of responsibility, (3) the essential of competence, and (4) the essential of conti-

The Myth of the Bureaucratic Paradigm 153

nuity” (34). Rationality had numerous aspects or mean- ings: the pursuit of purpose (administration as a means to an end); a source of cohesion (as opposed to “countless clusters of personal influence” [36]); application of knowl- edge; application of reason; a gatherer of intelligence. Conceming responsibility, he argued that “[i]n structures as elaborate and hence as rich in opportunities for obstruc- tion as is large scale organization, control could not ac- complish coordination in the interplay of human wills. Control requires as well “well-formed habits of deference sustained by reason” (43).

The logic of administrative responsibility was summa- rized by Emmette Redford in his 1958 book, Ideal and Practice in Public Administration. He argued that “[t]hough administration is permeated and circumscribed by law, dis- cretion is vital to its performance…. Discretion is neces- sary in administration [because] law is rigid, and policy must be made pragmatically” (43). Integrated and hierar- chical structures, he argued, are essential to ensuring that bureaucracy is subject to control from outside. In other words, exercising authority over subordinates is not anti- democratic, but the opposite; capacity and control are two sides of the same coin.

“Responsibility,” Mosher argued, “may well be the most important word in all the vocabulary of administration, public and private” (1968, 7). The threats to objective re- sponsibility are not, he said, in politics but, echoing Her- ring, in “both professionalization and unionization with their narrower objectives and their foci upon the welfare and advancement of their members” (209). As for repre- sentativeness, “who represents that majority of citizens who are not in any [represented group or interest]?” (209). In general, “The harder and infinitely more important issue of administrative morality today attends the reaching of decisions on questions of public policy which involve com- petitions in loyalty and perspective between broad goals of the polity … and the narrower goals of a group, bureau, clientele, or union” (210).

These postwar traditionalists were perhaps more sensi- tive to the nuances of policy making and the dangers of unaccountable power than their predecessors, for whom the organization and management of the fledgling admin- istrative state were pressing issues. But the argument that the postwar period marked a sharp break from a pre-war orthodoxy is clearly unsustainable.

Was There a Traditional Paradigm? In a letter to George Frederickson regarding the

recipient’s ideas on a “new public administration,” Frederick Mosher protested that “[a]lmost all of the early leaders—until about 1950—were devoted to govemment that is representative, responsive, compassionate, con- cemed with equal opportunity. Structure, like personnel.

budgeting, and planning, was purely instrumental to a more humane and just society” (1992, 200-1). In a similar vein, Gary Wamsley and James Wolf (1996) argue that tradi- tional public administration incorporated such ideas as collaboration, a moral perspective on the public interest, a concem for democratic administration, and pragmatism.^’ My own reading of traditional literature has led me to dis- cem, beginning with Wilson, a professional reasoning pro- cess that took for granted (and thus did not always expli- cate) the interrelationships among the values of democracy, the dangers of an uncontrolled, politically corrupted, or irresponsible bureaucracy, the instruments of popular con- trol of administration, and judicial and executive institu- tions that can balance capacity with control in a constitu- tionally appropriate manner.

As paradigmatic thinking should, traditional perspec- tives raise fundamental questions: To what extent should powers be separated? In the exercise of administrative dis- cretion, what values should guide administrative behav- ior? How might the public interest be identified? What are the sources of legitimacy for administrative action? As we have seen, there was hardly unanimity on the answers: Electorally supervised hierarchy, or expertise and an “in- ner check” on the discretionary behavior of officials? Stat- utes and judicial mlings, or public opinion and group pres- sures as the expression of the public will? Technical solutions or human judgment as a basis for operational decisions? Management or organization as the source of “good govemment”? “Public will” or “public interest” as the basis of legitimacy?

If there are assumptions that are taken for granted, or a paradigm, in traditional thought, it is that the structures and processes of the administrative state constitute an ap- propriate framework for achieving balance between ad- ministrative capacity and popular control on behalf of pub- lic purposes defined by electoral and judicial institutions, which are constitutionally authorized means for the ex- pression ofthe public will. In other words, preserving bal- ance between the capacity to effect the public interest and the democratic accountability of govemance was, and ar- guably still is, the task of our democracy.

Conclusion A reconsideration of traditional literature leads to the

ironic insight that contemporary critics of traditional thought pose a greater threat to democratic values than the authors of the so-called “bureaucratic paradigm.” Tradi- tional habits of thought exhibited far more respect for law, politics, citizens, and values than customer-oriented managerialism or civic philosophies that, in promoting community and citizen empowerment, barely acknowledge the constitutional role of legislatures, courts, and execu-

154 Public Administration Review • March/April 2001, Vol. 61 , No. 2

tive departments. The idea of separating administration from politics is more clearly expressed in Reinventing Government (is not steering versus rowing a dichotomy?) and in contemporary attacks on “top-down” democracy than it is in Wilson or Goodnow, White or Herdng, Merdam or Dimock.̂ ^ In the guise of “performance,” efficiency as the ultimate value permeates the New Public Management more than it did the old public administration. There are far more principles in the reinvention literature—lists and lists of them—than there ever were in Willoughby or Gulick.

Managerialism, marketization, and reinvention are far from the whole story of public administration discourse, of course. Post-traditional intellectual developments in public administration have been diverse and significant. The dgorous interdisciplinary study of governance, bureau- cracy, and public management is flourishing (Heinrich and Lynn 2000; Rainey and Steinbauer 1999), easily overshad- owing contributions to public-management scholarship of the policy schools. Debate over alternatives to traditional republican concepts of democracy, initiated by Waldo, Sayre, Norton Long, and others, has been ongoing and lively, if not always precise conceming those traditional concepts (Frededckson 1982,1997; Madni 1971; Wamsley et al. 1990; Wamsley and Wolf 1996). The heterodoxy hailed by Sayre has produced valuable intellectual divi- dends and has moved the profession forward on many in- tellectual fronts. The profession now provides numerous forums for integrating social scientific contributions as apparently diverse as those of James Q. Wilson, James

March, Terry Moe, and Oliver Williamson, and for dis- course conceming public-administration theory and nor- mative perspectives on govemance.

These important fruits of heterodoxy notwithstanding, public administration as a profession seems to have let lapse the moral and intellectual authority conferred by its own recognition that enacting democracy in our constitutional order requires us to confront the dilemmas of reconciling capacity with control and that legislatures, courts, and pub- lic officials with discretion are inevitable components of our constitutional scheme.^^ As a result, the profession mounts an unduly weak challenge to various revisionists and to the superficial thinking and easy answers of the policy schools and the ubiquitous management consult- ants.̂ ^ New paradigms of dubious constitutional merit and prominent personalities and ideas that appeal to elected executives and consultants are too readily embraced in order to appropdate their populadty (see the National Acad- emy of Public Administration’s uncritical endorsement of the analysis and prescriptions of Osbome and Gaebler). Often missing in literature and discourse is recognition that reformers of institutions and civic philosophies must show how the capacity to effect public purposes and account- ability to the polity will be enhanced in a manner that com- ports with our Constitution and our republican institutions.’^ Basic political and legal issues of responsible management in a postmodem era are inadequately defined and addressed. Such a result ill becomes a profession that once owned impressively deep insight into public administration in a representative democracy.


1. White (1926, 463). 2. H. George Frederickson, Laurence J. O’Toole Jr., David

Rosenbloom, and Gary Wamsley provided valuable com- ments and criticisms on an earlier draft of this paper.

3. Howard Margolis (1993) says of paradigmatic thinking, “[S]hared habits of mind are the only essential constituents tying together a community in the way that makes talk of sharing a paradigm fruitful…. [T]he essential component of a Kuhnian paradigm is an intrinsically invisible (though not undetectable) component, habits of mind…. A paradigm shift… is a special sort of change in habits of mind” (23). Margolis distinguishes between “points of view,” which an individual is conscious of, and “habits of mind,” which the individual is unconscious of. He says we cannot identify complete paradigms and we don’t need to; we need only identify “those habits of mind that are critical for distin- guishing the community from outsiders or rivals” (26).

Barzelay’s definition of paradigm is drawn from Harmon (1970) and Barker (1985): “[T]he basic way of perceiving.

thinking, valuing, and doing associated with a particular vision of reality. A dominant paradigm is seldom if ever stated explicitly; it exists as unquestioned, tacit understand- ing that is transmitted through culture and in succeeding generations through direct experience rather than being taught” (Barzelay 1992, 178).

4. James D. Carroll (1998) characterizes New Public Manage- ment in paradigmatic terms: “reducing and deregulating bu- reaucracy, using market mechanisms and simulated mar- kets to conduct government action, devolving responsibility downward and outward in organizations, increasing produc- tivity, energizing agencies, and empowering employees to pursue results, improve quality, and satisfy customers” (402).

5. Morstein Marx (1957) attributes the first coinage of the term “bureaucracy” (bureaucratie) to Vincent de Goumay, “an eighteenth-century French minister of commerce. In all prob- ability he intended to express the critical point of view of private enterprise … the new word gained a footing because of its nice argumentative edge” (17-18).

The Myth of the Bureaucratic Paradigm 155

6. Sayre (1951), “at the risk of oversimplification,” equates “the dominant administrative values” as of 1940 with Gulick and Urwick’s Papers on the Science of Administration and the Brownlow Report. Though he makes passing reference to traditional sources, Barzelay has no attributions or cita- tions to support his assertion that he has identified “habits of thought.” Moore cites Woodrow Wilson’s 1887 article and excerpts from Goodnow’s Politics and Administration, White’s 1926 edition of Introduction to the Study of Public Administration, and Gulick’s “Notes on the Theory of Or- ganization,” all of which were quoted from material reprinted in Shafritz and Hyde (1987). Ostrom (1973, 1989) cites the high point ofthe pre-Simon era as the publication of Gulick and Urwick’s Papers and the Brownlow Report (“The Pa- pers stated the theoretical foundations for the science of ad- ministration. The Report proposed a bold new reorganiza- tion plan based on that science of administration …” [5]); Fesler and Kettl (1991) cite a single historical source, Wilson’s 1887 essay; and Gabrielian and Fischer (1996) at- tribute “The American Model of Public Administration” to the work of Wilson (1887 essay), Taylor, and Weber.

7. Scholars such as O’Toole (1984) and Wamsley and Wolf (1996) reject such “wisdom,” but the evidence from boilerplate characterizations of traditional scholarship in both published and submitted manuscripts strongly attests to its wide acceptance.

8. According to O’Toole (1982), Waldo “demonstrat[ed] con- clusively that ‘orthodox’ American public administrative thought was itself a political theory [with] possible incon- sistencies between it and democratic govemment… Waldo assisted in the destruction of the oversimplified doctrines that earlier had united administrative reformers” (119).

9. Sayre makes this argument “at the risk of oversimplifica- tion” (1951, 1). He points out that there was not unanimity, citing a number of authors, for example, John Gaus and Pendleton Herring, as examples of how “the values of pub- lic administration were not yet settled and finite” (2).

10. The chief virtue of Osbome and Gaebler’s argument is its recognition that the form of the administrative state is en- dogenous to the prevailing political, economic, and social context; to them, the traditional paradigm is a political, not an intellectual, construct. However, they failed to justify the view that govemmental accountability and reliability are no longer political priorities.

11. See Frederickson (1982, 20).

12. Peering into the future. White (1942) argued that “[sjcience, the professions, technology, and management press steadily toward the technical improvement of public administration; localism, humanitarianism, and ‘politics’ tend to delay the emergence of forms of organization which seem technically superior but which run counter to deep-seated American preferences” (200). Further, he said, “[I]t seems probable that a slow and gradual differentiation of function in the public service may develop, leading to a clearer recogni- tion of the special tasks of higher administration, of busi- ness management, of the professions, of middle manage-

ment, and possibly of other management zones” (203^).

13. Van Riper (1983) argues that “any connection between the [Wilson] essay and the later development of the literature is pure fantasy!” (9).

14. Charles Merriam (1926) noted “the almost unqualified ad- herence to the practice of popular election of a very large number of officials, most with administrative duties” (7).

15. With respect to the capacity and control of the pre-bureau- cratic state, Leonard White said, “So long as American ad- ministrative systems remained decentralized, disintegrated, and self-governmental and discharged only a minimum of responsibilities, the necessity of highly developed machin- ery for its control was unknown. Administration was weak and threatened no civil liberties; it was unorganized and possessed no power of resistance; it was elective and quickly responsive to the color and tone of local feeling” (1935, 418).

16. Criteria for executive appointments prior to the Jacksonian era were fitness of character, political loyalty, and, after Jefferson, representativeness, to ensure that a unitary politi- cal philosophy did not dominate administration (White 1965). After Jackson, ordinary citizens were considered qualified for public office in accordance with their political loyalties (White 1954).

17. White (1933) quoted Tocqueville: “[T]here is no point which serves as a center to the radii of the administra- tion.” As a result, said White, “responsibility, both of a civil and public order, was … determined and enforced by the courts, not by order of a chief executive.”

18. With respect to judicial review of administrative decisions, Skowronek argues that although “[m]odern American state building shattered an outmoded judicial discipline [,…] it failed to reconstruct a vital role for the judiciary in regulat- ing the new political economy” (1982, 286).

19. According to Wilson, “There is no danger in power, if only it be not irresponsible” (1941, 481). Charles Merriam at- tributed to Wilson the view that “[p]ower and strict account- ability for its use are the essential constituents of a good govemment…. The chief significance of his method lay in the importance attached to the study of politics as made up of living facts and forces, institutional as well as constitu- tional, organic rather than mechanic” (1926, 381-2).

20. To Charles Beard (1935), Goodnow was the first scholar to recognize the importance of administration in modem soci- ety and to sketch the outlines of the field.

21. This distinction is implied by the Constitution’s “faithful execution of the laws” clause. Deliberations that gave rise to this clause contemplated the idea of specific legislative delegations of authority to carry the will of the legislature into effect (Newland 1997).

22. Thus Goodnow might be considered a founder of the New Public Management.

23. As we shall see, a distinction between so-called technical and quasi-judicial activities and activities infused with policy significance is crucial to understanding how public admin-

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istration and administrative law are conjoined (Bertelli and Lynn 2000).

24. In a 1919 essay, W. F. Willoughby provides the earliest at- tribution that I have found to Goodnow initiating the idea of a dichotomy between politics and administration. John Rohr, who sees a very sharp distinction in Goodnow, notes that commentators differ on this point. Appleby also noted that “Gulick as far back as 1933 positively denied their sepa- ration” (1949, 16).

25. The courts had become a hindrance, in White’s view, par- ticularly with respect to “new aspects of social policy, the conditions and effects of which are in the process of discov- ery and exploration” (White 1935,456).

26. White noted the persistence of the spoils system in the larger cities and “the almost unqualified adherence to the practice of popular election of a very large number of officials, most with administrative duties” (1933, 7).

27. For Herring, citizen participation occurred through the pres- sure of public opinion and through association with pres- sure groups that combined interest with expertise.

28. Merriam himself had said, “It cannot escape observation … that the ends or purposes of policy are very general in na- ture and must be so, and that the practical application of the end is often as important or more important than the origi- nal end itself. This application is often in the hands of ad- ministrative officials, however, and therefore the nature and forms of their activities are often as significant as the ends themselves” (1940, 299).

29. Said Merriam (1940): “The pathology of administration for a long time was marked by the presence of corruption, ig- norance, indolence, incompetence, favoritism, oppression.” But there are new difficulties: “arrogance and indifference to the public, lack of sympathy approaching harshness and cruelty, devotion to inflexibility and routine, grumbling at theory and change, procrastination, quibbling and delay; or the opposite of too much great and rash speed without ad- equate preparation of the public for change” (305-6).

30. I am indebted to David H. Rosenbloom for his insights on the Walter-Logan Bill.

31. In reviewing the Walter-Logan episode, Don K. Price had the significant insight that the debate was on “the margins of the problem [of administration]” (1959, 483). That is, the debate focused on agencies that issue rules and adjudi- cate private rights through formal administrative procedure, whereas the role of govemment was becoming “more dy- namic and more diversified,” requiring “dispatch and flex- ibility” in administration. For regulatory agencies, the propo- sition that behavior is safeguarded by their imitating the courts was at least arguable. For the New Deal agencies. Price insisted, administrative behavior is better safeguarded by the authority ofthe legislature to punish departures from legislative intent than by enforced conformity to judicial procedure.

32. The idea of customer orientation can be attributed to Friedrich: “There is a laudable tendency … to adopt the department store slogan: ‘The customer is always right'” (1940, 19).

33. Wamsley and Wolf (1996), O’Toole (1984), and others see significant continuity between traditional and subsequent public administration thought. I emphasize in this section authors who seem to be in a direct line of succession with pre-war authors.

34. Hyneman (1950) enumerates the harms that a bureaucracy can do: (1) administrative officials and employees may in- terfere with or prejudice elections; (2) they may misinform the people about the issues that confront the public about how these issues may be dealt with, and about what is being done to meet them; (3) they may inaugurate and pursue poli- cies of govemment that are positively contrary to the public will; (4) they may fail to take the initiative and supply the leadership that is required of them in view of their relation to particular sectors of public affairs; and (5) they may, by sheer inefficiency in their operations, destroy popular faith in democratic government” (26).

35. O’Toole (1984) likewise characterizes traditional thought as featuring “a continual, tension-filled struggle on the part of those who are deeply committed to some vision of de- mocracy but who see the seeming inevitability of large-scale govemmental bureaucracy” (149).

36. James Q. Wilson observed that “[t]he near absence of any reference to democratic accountability is perhaps the most striking feature of the Gore report” (Wilson 1994). Indeed, in downgrading citizenship in favor of customership, the Gore report is actively hostile to republican principles of accountability.

37. A conspicuous exception is Rosenbloom (personal commu- nication; see also 2000), who argues that “there is a distinc- tive, coherent ‘legislative-centered’ approach to adminis- tration that treats agencies as extensions of Congress for legislative functions, forces democratic-Constitutional val- ues into administrative practice, fully rejects the traditional politics-administration dichotomy, and considers Congres- sional intercession in federal administration on behalf of constituent and district interests to be fully legitimate.”

38. “[B]y moving away from the path of the Traditionalists, the field of public administration became dislocated from its place in the govemance process” (G.S. Marshall, quotes in Wamsley and Wolf 1996, 19).

39. The perverse identification of Wilson and Weber as public- administration progenitors and the publication of the Brownlow Report as a watershed may well reflect these ten- dencies.

The Myth of the Bureaucratic Paradigm 157


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