Peter Baofu, PhD
Series: World Philosophy
Is public administration so effective that, as William Poole once wrote, “it is highly desirable that policy practice be formalized to the maximum possible extent”? (FAM 2014) This favorable view on policy and implementation can be contrasted with an opposing view by Thomas Sowell, who warned that “you will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.” (FAM 2014a) Contrary to these opposing views (and other ones as will be discussed in the book), public administration (in relation to policy and implementation) are neither possible (or impossible) nor desirable (or undesirable) to the extent that the respective ideologues (on different sides) would like us to believe.
Needless to say, this questioning of different opposing views on policy and implementation does not suggest that the study of public administration is worthless, or that those diverse fields (related to public administration) — like policy analysis, program evaluation, sociology, psychology, philosophy, performance management, organizational development, economics, anthropology, geography, law, political science, social work, environmental planning, human resources, organizational theory, budgeting, ethics, and so on should be ignored. (WK 2014, 2014a & 2014b) In fact, neither of these extreme views is plausible.
Rather, this book offers an alternative (and better) way to understand the future of public administration in regard to the dialectic relationship between policy and implementation, while learning from different approaches in the literature but without favoring any one of them (nor integrating them, since they are not necessarily compatible with each other). More specifically, this book offers a new theory (that is, the tensional theory of public administration) to go beyond the existing approaches in a novel way, and is organized in four chapters. This seminal project will fundamentally change the way that we think about public administration in relation to policy and implementation from the combined perspectives of the mind, nature, society, and culture, with enormous implications for the human future and what I originally called its “post-human” fate.