Examination of Public Administration and Local Administration in General

First of all, we can say that public administration was developed as a result of needs in ancient times. The necessity of keeping records of food and taxes has created the need for experts in addition and subtraction. In the following periods, with some developments (Progression of Europe’s imperialist era – expansion of European dominance), a more sophisticated public administration was sought.

With the emergence of absolutist states in the following periods, questions arose about how best to manage the state, both economically and militarily. With the emergence of absolutist states in the following periods, questions arose about how best to manage the state, both economically and militarily. As a result, cameral science chairs were established in Prussia in 1729.

Although Lorenz von Stein is known worldwide as the founder of public administration, Woodrow Wilson is considered the father of public administration in the USA. Because he formally recognized public administration in his 1887 article “The Study of Administration”. There were also theorists such as Frederick Taylor and Henri Fayol at that time. Frederick Taylor published his book named “The Principles of Scientific Management”. Thus, Wilson’s theory was grounded with the contributions of Taylor and some other theorists such as Weber.

In addition to these, the “POSDCORB” theory, in which Luther Gulick formulated the duties of managers, should also be mentioned. “POSDCORB” stands for Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing, Coordinating, Reporting and Budgeting functions.

Public administration, which was called scientific management in these periods, began to be questioned after the 1929 economic crisis. The main point of criticism was the claim that the classical understanding was trying to create a mechanized human being. As a result of the Hawthorne Studies that lasted for years in a factory, the human element is also emphasized for efficiency. The emphasis on people here constitutes the next step in the development of the discipline of public administration.

In the first half of the twentieth century, between 1940 and 1950, public administration developed as “comparative”. In the 1960s, as a result of some social dynamics (Vietnam War), public administration became political.

In the 1980s, when the reduction of the state’s function in the economy came to the agenda, this important development of course also affected the development of public administration. In this context, the public has been reduced to the market and public administration has begun to be evaluated together with business as a discipline. This is theorized by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler in their book (Reinventing Government) as “New Public Administration”.

It can be said that the postmodern public administration approach emerged in the 1990s and after the 2000s. Thus, the concept of “Governance” emerged and was developed. In addition, Robert B. Denhardt and Janet V. Denhardt proposed a new civil service model called “Digital Era Governance” during this period. Thus, we discussed the development of the discipline of public administration from ancient times to the present.

Three important concepts related to public administration and local governments should also be mentioned: decentralization, governance, and subsidiarity.

Decentralization can be defined as the transfer of authority, that is, power, to smaller administrations. In this sense, three types of decentralization should be mentioned. Fiscal decentralization is the financial decision-making authority given to local governments. Administrative decentralization is the administrative decision authority granted to local governments. Political decentralization is the creation of the administration of the local government by the local people.

Governance primarily symbolizes a different approach to management. Governance can be defined as a participatory form of management in which decisions about management are not made “from the top”, on the contrary, there are components such as civil society. Along with the postmodern debates, there is a unity and joint decision-making process rather than the traditional view of management. Democracy is becoming more participatory thanks to governance, which is paid attention to by many international organizations. In the context of local governments, governance appears as the participation of local people in the administration rather than the direct orders of the center.

When we examine the concept of “subsidiarity”, a situation of secondaryness emerges. This concept helps us to regulate the relationship between local governments and general governments. In addition, it is important for this principle that public services are carried out by the lowest administrative unit as much as possible. I mean public responsibilities are fulfilled by the closest authority to the citizen. Likewise, in accordance with this subsidiarity principle, the powers given to local governments cannot be limited by higher authorities.

First of all, it would be correct to start with the definition of local governments. Local governments are formations established in an order to meet the needs that show local characteristics. Being established within the legal order and being a constitutional institution is the source of the legitimacy of local governments. At this point, it can be said that local governments have autonomy, albeit limited, and this is one of the most important features of local governments.

We talked about the concept of decentralization above. Local governments are one of the tools used to achieve this. Local governments are important for democracies. In governments where participation is higher, the people have a greater say and, in this respect, local governments are very important. Another importance of local governments emerges in terms of creating local solutions to local problems. Local needs can also be better met by local governments.

If we look at the example of Turkey, we see a state with a unitary structure. Therefore, many institutions and organizations can be given as examples within the scope of local government. These institutions and organizations exist to respond to public human needs and problems. We can talk about three types of local government examples in Turkey. The first of these is “municipalities”. The second is “specific provincial administrations”. The third is the “villages”. It should be noted here that not every city has a specific provincial administration and village (I mean metropolitan cities).

In terms of local governments, there are some differences in cities. For example, as cities grow, their problems and troubles increase. Therefore, it is getting harder and harder for the central government to respond to these problems. Therefore, local governments are important both in terms of sharing the problems and reaching the solution more easily. Creating local solutions to local problems also makes a positive difference. Thus, I tried to create a general perspective on public administration and local administrations.

Enes Bera Koşar

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Enes Bera Koşar

Istanbul Medeniyet Univ. Political Sciences Balkan Studies eneskosar00[at]gmail.com


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