The period between 1960s and 1970s was a period of change for the US public administration theory and government. It is necessary to note that this period was characterized by Americans dissatisfaction with the government. The war in Vietnam and a number of scandals involving politics made people distrustful and dissatisfied (Cox et al., 2010). Public administration theorist knew that rapid change was vital.
Theorists agreed that public administration should be separated from politics. It is noteworthy that theorists also criticized bureaucratic mechanisms that existed at that period. As has been mentioned above, political scandals made public administration theorists pay specific attention to human resources. Theorists followed organizational approach and developed strategies to make the public administration efficient (Shafritz & Hyde, 2012).
For instance, Daniel Katz and Robert L. Kahn, Warren Bennis, Herbert Kaufman and many others stressed that the US government was an organization which followed major rules of organizational development. There was also certain need in scientific approach.
Katz and Kahn’s Contribution
Daniel Katz and Robert L. Kahn were the most influential public administration theorists of that period. The researchers claimed that public administration should be seen as an organization where employees cooperate to achieve certain goals and satisfy the clients. Katz and Kahn stressed that employees of the government had to be aware of major goals to be able to successfully achieve them. The theorists saw public administration (as well as any other organization) as a kind of systems.
According to Katz and Kahn, the system should consist of specific subsystems which cooperate (Shafritz & Hyde, 2012). The researchers also believed that the system should be decentralized to work efficiently. Admittedly, decentralization requires proper communication. Thus, the theorist noted that communication was vital for proper functioning of the subsystems and the entire system.
Importantly, Katz and Kahn employed behavioral approach. The theorists paid special attention to people’s behavior within the organization (Shafritz & Hyde, 2012). The researchers emphasized the importance of such concepts as proper structure, leadership, and ideology. According to Katz and Kahn, public administrators had to have certain moral codes and be committed to the organization (Shafritz & Hyde, 2012).
Notably, ideology was seen as the necessary set of norms aimed at uniting employees and helping them cooperate effectively. It is also important to note that Katz and Kahn stressed the importance of constant change (Shafritz & Hyde, 2012). They claimed public administration had to develop along with the society to be able to fit in.
To sum up, it is possible to note that Katz and Kahn were some of the most influential theorists of public administration in the 1960-1970s. The theorists followed organizational approach and stressed that public administration should operate in accordance with the laws of organizational development. The theorists also noted that it was crucial to research public administrators’ behavior. Apart from this, they emphasized the importance of ideology in public administration.
In a nutshell, it is possible to state that the period between the 1960s and 1970s was a shift to organizational approach where the major focus was made on people and the system. The theory of public administration also underwent certain changes. It became apparent that public administrators needed theoretical background to function more efficiently. Public administration theorists came up with specific strategies and methods to make the government meet people’s expectations.
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.