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Dwight Waldo

The reasons for including the works of Dwight Waldo in this collection differ from those for the other authors chosen. Waldo is included as much for his observations on the contributions of others as for his own contributions to the field. Waldo is recognized as an astute critic and a knowledgeable chronicler of the history of the study of public adminis- tration. He is also representative of an approach to public administra- tion–the Administration-as-Politics approach–that, combined with the Behavioral approach, constituted a devastating critique of the Clas- sical paradigm of public administration.

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Waldo is thus included both because of his views on the development and current state of the field of public administration and as a representative of a particular perspec- tive on the field. As a commentator on, and critic of, public administration, Waldo came to his task with reservations, and he has approached his subject with a certain wariness ever since. Waldo’s intellectual interests while a student centered on political philosophy, not public administration. His dissertation dealt with public administration, but was intended as an expose.

His intent was to expose the political theory he believed to be implicit in the Classical approach to public administration. Waldo argued that by concentrating on the technical aspects of public admin- istration, the Classical approach embodied a philosophy and consti- tuted an ideology that effectively supported the existing political order. The publication of The Administrative State, a book based on his dissertation, earned for Waldo, by his own estimation, the status of a pariah in the field. Waldo’s views have softened over time, but there is still an element of the skeptic in him.

He denies the possibility of con- structing a science of public administration. He doubts the existence of “principles” of administration. He questions the plausibility of a uni- fied theory of organizations. He is skeptical of those who would indis- criminately intermingle politics and administration. He even despairs of reaching common agreement on a definition of the field of public ad- ministration. Nonetheless, he believes that the fate of civilization may well rest on our ability to master the functions of administration.


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