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Revisiting Waldo's Administrative State

Constancy and Change in Public Administration

Publication Year: 2006

The prevailing notion that the best government is achieved through principles of management and business practices is hardly newùit echoes the early twentieth-century gospel of efficiency challenged by Dwight Waldo in 1948 in his pathbreaking book, The Ad

Published by: Georgetown University Press

Series: Public Management and Change series


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pp. v-vi

List of Tables and Figures

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p. vii

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pp. ix-xi

Dwight Waldo’s The Administrative State: A Study of the Political Theory of American Public Administration (1948) established that public administrative theory is also unavoidably political theory. This insight— obvious to us now—fundamentally changed the study of public administration, presumably forever. Henceforth scholars would analyze the political dimensions of public administrative ...

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p. xiii

Revisiting Waldo’s Administrative State grew out of a symposium on “The Administrative State Reconsidered,” hosted by American University’s School of Public Affairs in 2003 to honor the fifty-fifth anniversary of Dwight Waldo’s classic work. The symposium could not have been held without the enthusiasm and support of American University’s provost at the time, Cornelius ...

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1 Introduction: Dwight Waldo’s The Administrative State

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pp. 1-14

The 2005 American Political Science Association national meeting in Washington, D.C., featured a debate pitting Dwight Waldo’s The Administrative State against Herbert Simon’s Administrative Behavior, with the protagonists for each having to argue that theirs was the best book on U.S. public administration written during the twentieth ...

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2 The Material Background

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pp. 15-34

Dwight Waldo wrote The Administrative State at a unique Dickensian moment in American public administration. In many ways, it was the best of times. The book, a condensed version of his Yale doctoral dissertation in political theory, appeared in 1948, just as public administration reached its high-water mark. Its best minds had gone to ...

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3 The Cultural and Ideological Background

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pp. 35-53

Administrative methods abound. Within countries around the world and across time, the number of methods utilized to administer the work of governments is astonishingly large. Bureaucracies, adhocracies, merit systems, professional corps, prebends, patriarchies, government corporations, government contracts, high reliability organizations, nongovernmental organizations, privatized ...

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4 The Criteria of Action

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pp. 55-70

Writing more than fifty-five years ago, Dwight Waldo sought to understand why the scientific perspective had played such a large role in early efforts to understand the administrative state. From Luther Gulick’s efforts to classify administrative studies as a social science to Frederick Taylor’s promotion of “scientific management,” people in ...

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5 Who Should Rule?

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pp. 71-85

Dwight Waldo worried about intellectual foundations—of academic thought, of citizenship, of government, and of public administration as a discipline. He worried about the potential for intellectual rootlessness and its impact on the discipline and on the government to which he had committed his life’s work. Waldo worried about the ...

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6 The Separation of Powers

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pp. 87-107

In chapter 7 of The Administrative State, Dwight Waldo reviewed the contorted theories that scholars in the early public administration movement developed to explain the alignment of the two functions of governing, politics and administration, with the constitutional three-branch separation of powers. Waldo found their writings to be “hostile to the tripartite separation ...

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7 The Thinning of Administrative Institutions

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pp. 109-128

In The Test of Time: An Essay in Philosophical Aesthetics, the British philosopher Anthony Savile examined the meaning of the concept “test of time” as it relates to works of art. Savile suggested that works of art pass the test of time because of “survival of attention,” that is to say, they hold our attention because of their high quality, excellence, or merit. ...

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8 Competition for Human Capital

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pp. 129-150

Throughout his career, Dwight Waldo worked to relate administrative theories to the social movements in which they arose. “Political theories must be construed in relation to their material environment and ideological framework,” he wrote in the opening sentence to The Administrative State. American public administration was “unmistakably related to unique ...

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9 Business and Government

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pp. 151-178

The administrative state that Dwight Waldo described and analyzed more than fifty years ago drew its motive force from the rapid expansion of government during the first half of the twentieth century. The growth in governmental responsibilities for providing public goods and services created the modern administrative state. That growth was closely allied with developments ...

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10 Institutional Values and the Future Administrative State

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pp. 179-202

After the cold war began in the late 1940s, a number of public administration scholars worried that democratic values such as responsiveness, equity, equality, due process, and constitutional rights would become marginalized if not displaced entirely by specialists intent on making government work effectively at the lowest possible ...

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11 Conclusion: Additional Notes on the Present Tendencies

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pp. 203-216

Dwight Waldo was fond of posing administration issues in the form of dichotomies. In contemplating the future direction of the field, he frequently presented conflicting tendencies. Thus the locus of administrative power in the modern state, to cite one illustration, would be determined in part by the apparent conflict between centralization ...


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pp. 217-219


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pp. 221-233

E-ISBN-13: 9781589014077
E-ISBN-10: 1589014073
Print-ISBN-13: 9781589010932
Print-ISBN-10: 1589010930

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: Public Management and Change series
Series Editor Byline: Beryl A. Radin, Series Editor See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 290559169
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Revisiting Waldo's Administrative State

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Subject Headings

  • Waldo, Dwight. Administrative state.
  • Public administration.
  • Organizational change -- United States.
  • United States -- Politics and government.
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