Home Introduction to public Administration DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION


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Since its inception, traditional public administration has been characterized by insurmountable problems which amount to bureaucratic bottlenecks. This situation does not augur well for development. Of course, the worst hit is the Developing Nations who are still grappling with providing the basic necessities of life. Development administration is therefore a new concept designed to overcome these obstacles. This unit therefore will focus on the definition of development administration, theories and traditional and new public administration


At the end of this unit, you are expected to:

  1. Define development administration 
  2. State the theories of development administration 
  3. Examine traditional and new public administration 
  4. Mention the obstacles of development administration 



Development administration is concerned with plans, policies, programmes and projects which focus on nation building and socio-economic development. It aims to achieve socio-economic goals through the talents and expertise of bureaucrats.

Development administration focuses on the results to be achieved rather than the traditionalist view of strict adherence to rules and hierarchy. Strict adherence to rules creates rigidness, delay and procrastination.

  1. Development per se is oriented towards change in a destined direction. Thus, development administration is change oriented and rejects status quo. 
  2. Every development functions have a goal to be achieved. i.e. economic development has the goal to improve the quality of life such as better literacy rate, life expectancy and reduction in poverty 
  3. For the goals to be achieved, to relate the means to ends, planning and temporal dimension is a salient feature. Planning aids in deciding the resources required for the goal, the time in which it needs to achieve. 
  4. Development administration has an innovative dimension; it is flexible enough to design new methods, procedures, policies which would save time, increase effectiveness and quality. 
  5. Administrators under this concept are required to be committed to the policies, plans and programmes. The commitment is not necessarily to the political parties, who enacts the policies but to the values that an administrator should upheld in his/her profession. 
  6. Development is ultimately aimed to the people, hence it should accord primacy to the public the administration should be client oriented. 
  7. For the development functions to be effective and for it to be people oriented, participation of people is emphasized in formulating plans, implementation and sharing the benefits derived. Thus Development administration should focus on “planning with people” rather than “planning for people”. It should be people centered rather than production centered. i.e. not in maximizing production, goods and services but to address the needs of people, empower people. 

Development administration has two concepts administration of development and administrative development. Administrative development is increasing and improving the capabilities of administrative system. It involves modernization of administrative structure, capabilities of personnel, attitudinal and behavioral changes among the administrators.

Self – assessment exercise 3.1

What is Development Administration?


New Public Administration is particularly relevant to the developing nations where qualitative transformation of public administration is needed.
1. Public Choice Theory Vincent Ostrom, an advocate of Public Choice Theory, viewed bureaucrats as preferring self-interest to public interest. Public Choice School views the citizen as the ultimate source of administrative power because he/she is considered as a rational consumer of public goods and services. Public Choice School developed the “Theory of Administrative Egoism”, according to which bureaucrats, in general, are self-aggrandized and whose interests are antithetical to public interest.
2. System Theory; Biographical and autobiographical writings on administrators and reminiscences of former administrators are closely related to the ‘historical approach’ to the study of Public Administration. The chief contributor of the System Analysis is Herbert Simon. The systems analysis identifies the basic unit of the system to be the ‘individual’ (not the sub-system) Sub-systems are ‘dynamic’ in the sense that they undergo continuous change as a result of interaction with other sub-systems within the system. The term ‘administrative lag’ connotes the imbalance between aspirations and performance of administration. This is a major obstacle for development in the third world nations.
3 Fusion Approach; The Scientific Management Theory of Frederick W. Taylor emphasized ‘standardization’ and ‘cooperation’. However, according to Taylor, the duty of enforcing the adoption of standards and of enforcing the cooperation rests with the management alone. In Fusion Approach – the interests of organization is fused with those of the workers. Individual workers are considered as important as the organization itself. Classical theory and the Human Relations theory are considered anti-polar. But, the goals of both the theories are same, and thus concerned with economy, efficiency and use of scientific methods in organization (Rodman, n.d)

Self – Assessment Exercise 3.2

State the various theories of Development Administration


Herbert Simon widened the scope of Public Administration by relating it to psychology, sociology, economics and political science. There are basically four problems confronting public Administration, viz:
1. Inadequate funds
2. Uncertainty and confusion over the status of the discipline
3. Institutional shortcomings; and
4. Lack of interaction between scholars and administrators.

New Public Administration emphasised four factors: relevance, values, change and social equity. Under the traditional Public Administration, there was a mismatch between the supply of public administration and the demand of the people. Though the Public Administration functioned well, it failed to solve the contemporary problems. Hence, the New Public Administration demanded that there should be relevance between Public Administration and the contemporary social problems. Traditional Public Administration emphasized value-neutrality. For example, both rich and poor will be treated equally without any favour for one side. However, New Public Administration championed the cause of the disadvantaged

sections in society and openly sided with them. Thus, it emphasized value factor in administration. New Public Administration specifically emphasized that the basic function of administration is to distribute the resources in such a way as to reduce the economic and social inequalities. This is to maintain social equity. New Public Administration has attacked the traditional concept of maintaining status quo (same status) and advocated innovation and change.

Self – Assessment Exercise 3.3

What are the differences between the traditional and new public administration?

3.4 Obstacles to Development Administration

The obstacles to development administration are many and varied and interconnected, but we might usefully discuss them under four headings: (1) shortages of skills and tools (2) difficulties of organization and structure (3) political difficulties and (4) cultural and attitude barriers.

  1. Shortages of skills and tools : a) There is a shortage of trained personnel, which is the most obvious and widely noted difficulty in development administration. The shortage generally affects all levels of administration, but is particularly acute with regard to ‘support administration’, i.е. middle- and lower-echelon personnel, and local administrators. One expert has stated that ten people are needed for ‘support administration for every one person at the top. b) An additional problem is that the emerging nations’ interest in foreign affairs absorbs many of their skilled people, and this further reduces the number available for development tasks, Secondly, there is a great waste of the limited talent that is available for administration. There are often large numbers of skilled people in administration, but with the wrong skills., e.g, people who studied liberal arts or law (The tradition of the amateur ‘generalist’ dies hard,) These subjects have prestige but little usefulness., and thus many new administrators are in effect untrained. Much of the right kind of training is wasted because trainees seek other work or get no chance to use their skill. New schools and institutes for the teaching of public administration are often provided, for both students and teachers, for those people who can be spared from their work, i, e, the least useful. c) Another aspect or consequence of the shortage of personnel is the rapid turnover in individual positions, as skilled men are shifted around from one position to another. Some of it is voluntary, and due to the lack of uniform systems of pay, classification, and advancement. But most of it is a relic of by gone days of the generalist administrator, when one administrative job was not basically different from any other, and when frequent rotation could broaden the generalist’s outlook. “But today, when specialized experience takes time to acquire, frequent transfers or transfers to positions where there is no opportunity to use scarce skills, tend to aggravate the acute shortage of experienced managerial leadership,Moreover, because of frequent shifts in, or lack of, staff, it has not been unusual to find projects languishing or even abandoned. d) The skill lacking is not merely advanced economic or administrative expertise, but simple office skills: filing systems, internal communications, trained stenographers, clerks, accountants, etc. Without the ability to preserve and organize internal records, an administration is more or less amnesiac. Yet training institutions often teach advanced concepts and techniques borrowed from advanced countries – philosophical bases of administration, human relations, computer technology etc., and neglect the ‘nuts and bolts’. e) Elementary statistical data are often unreliable, fragmentary, or non-existent. 
  2. Difficulties of organization and structure :There are problems involved in the location of the central planning agency in the over-all governmental structure. Each of the several possible arrangements has its own hazards; all planning responsibilities can be concentrated in a cabinet-level ministry of planning. Planning units can be established in the Ministry of Finance or in the Ministry of Economic Affairs. An independent planning commission can be established, perhaps, as in Pakistan, located in and responsible to the Office of the President or the Commission may constitute a cabinet committee composed of the interested ministers (finance, economic affairs, labour, education,agriculture, etc.). The essential problem is co-ordination., In Jamaica, the Department of Housing was planning a housing project on the same land which the Ministry of Agriculture was preparing to flood for an irrigation project. In Madagascar, the Ministry charged with repairing a highway after the Ministry of Telecommunication had placed telephone cables underground, repaired the highway before the Ministry of Telecommunications had laid the cables: Co-ordination has at least two major aspects: co-ordination of the several departmental objectives in one over-all, balanced plan, and co-ordination of planning, financing, and execution. One source of problems is that these two requirements are to some extent incompatible. On the one hand, coordination of departmental objectives seems to require a planning unit independent of any particular ministry. 
  3.  Political difficulties :The vulnerability of developing administrations to political vicissitudes is due to the fact that these bureaucracies politically engage themselves to a far greater degree than are their counterparts in advanced countries. That is, the bureaucracy may not merely be an arm of the executive, but the executive – in-fact. It may be the only body in the society capable of formulating clear social and political goals. If the legislature is feeble (as is often the case), the bureaucracy may be the arena of political struggle among interest groups, or may become an interest group itself, allying itself with the ruling oligarchy. In fact (to look at this from another point of view), it is usually desired that the bureaucracy go beyond its specialized mechanical functions and become an active promoter of the political goal of change.
  4.  Cultural and attitude barriers : Because of the bureaucracy’s significant political role in developing societies, the bureaucracy’s adjustment to the tasks of development is crucial. The ingrained conservatism of most of these bureaucracies thus becomes a major obstacle. Development requires an administration mobilized for transformation not for mere ‘administering’. But bureaucracies, like any established institutions, tend to prefer stability and continuity; staff colleges tend to imbue a code of behaviour that emphasizes rules and routines. Universities, though more autonomous than staff colleges may be even more stubbornly resistant to change in their approaches to training.  Cultural factors can be among the most deep-rooted barriers to modernization and they have their particularly administrative manifestations, Plans may fail to be implemented or to take root because the new institutions or patterns of behaviour are incompatible with tradition. For example, mass education violates the tenets of a caste system. Resistance to change will be formidable whether the incompatibility is real or imagined (Waterston, 1964; Riggs, 1956; Stone, 1964) 

Self – Assessment Exercise 3.4
Mention the various obstacles of Development Administration


In this unit, Development Administration has been seen as an attempt to fashion out administrative system that will meet the development needs of the third world nations devoid of the rigidity of traditional administrative practices. Development Administration places more emphasis on results rather than rigid procedures. However, this mode of administration has inherent weaknesses such as shortages of skills and tools; difficulties of organization and structure; political difficulties and; cultural and attitude barriers.


The relevance of the traditional public administration to the developing nations facing socio – economic challenges and development challenges has been disputed. Development administration, because of its flexibility and focus on nation building, and socio – economic development is better suited for the developing nations. Development administration focuses more on the result to be achieved than on the roles and procedures. Essentially, it is change – oriented, people – centered, goal – centered, innovative, participatory based and committed.

6.0 Tutor – Marked Assignments

  1. What is Development Administration? Explain the main elements in the definition. 
  2. State and examine the various theories of Development Administration 
  3. What would you consider as the main obstacles of Development Administration? 


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