The fifties (and especially late fifties) of the twentieth century were marked by certain shift in public administration theory in the USA. Theorists in this field focused on human resources and people’s behavior within organizations. Leadership and decision-making were regarded as some of the most important components of public administrators’ functioning (Cox et al., 2010).
Some of the most prominent public administration theorists of that period were Philip Selznick, Douglas McGregor and Charles E. Lindblom. These theorists contributed greatly to the field of public administration as they developed certain approaches which became the basis for further research.
The Theorists and Their Contribution
Selznick was one of the proponents of organizational approach. One of his major contributions was his attention to the goals set by the organization and employees’ goals (Shafritz & Hyde, 2012). The theorist noted that people often had different goals and this dichotomy often led to poor performance.
Thus, according to Selznick, employees, who did not share the organization’s values and set goals which differed from the ones, set within the organization, could not function effectively (Shafritz & Hyde, 2012). Furthermore, the theorist also stressed that it was crucial to develop proper environment within the organization to enable employees to cooperate and be efficient. Thus, communication was one of the keys to success.
Another prominent theorist of that period was Douglas McGregor. He also focused on the environment within the organization. The theorist claimed that motivation, control and leadership play essential role in the development of proper environment (Shafritz & Hyde, 2012). Thus, McGregor emphasized that leadership was important as employees needed support and control. Inspiring leaders could motivate public administrators, which could improve performance of the latter.
Effective cooperation between employees could be achieved with the help of control. Noteworthy, the researcher stated that public administrators had to know the organization’s goals to be able to perform effectively. The theorist also paid specific attention to motivation as he believed public administrators (as well as any other employees) needed motivation to perform properly and achieve the goals set.
Finally, Charles E. Lindblom also considered the human component of public administration. However, the theorist focused on the process of decision-making. Noteworthy, Lindblom was an advocate of democratic approach and stressed the importance of leadership. However, when it came decision-making, the theorist stressed the importance of cooperation. Lindblom claimed that the government consisted of a number of elites that cooperated (Shafritz & Hyde, 2012).
This cooperation was necessary for proper functioning of public administration. The researcher also noted that public administrators had to be aware of peculiarities of decision-making processes (Shafritz & Hyde, 2012). He noted that it was essential to analyze the process of decision-making to enable public administrators to function effectively.
On balance, it is possible to note that Philip Selznick, Douglas McGregor and Charles E. Lindblom contributed greatly to the development of the theory of public administration in the field of human resources. The theorists exploited behavioral approach and provided valuable insights into the processes of cooperation and decision-making.
It was acknowledged that public administrators needed motivation and leadership to ensure effective work of the US government. More importantly, the researchers developed specific tools which could be used by public administrators. Thus, communication, leadership and decision-making acquired the necessary attention and became central to further research.
Cox, R.W., Buck, S.J., & Morgan, B.N. (2010). Public administration in theory and practice. New York, NY: Longman Publishing Group.
Shafritz, J.M., & Hyde, A.C. (2012). Classics of public administration. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.