Woodrow Wilson contribution for Politics

Woodrow Wilson contribution for Politics-Administration Dichotomy

It was Woodrow Wilson who made one of the first dogmatic distinction between politics and administration.  In support of his position Wilson argued that public administration is a detailed and systematic execution of public law.  Every application of general law is an act of administration.  The field of administration is a field of business. Administration being removed from politics is not subjected to the vagaries and vicissitudes but goes on uninterruptedly to fulfill the promises of the system.

Inspired by Blunetshli and other German Scholars, Woodrow Wilson argued that administration concerns with the execution of public policies and lies outside the sphere of politics.  Policies should be formulated by elected leaders, shall their execution should be the sole responsibility of permanent officials selected for their expertise.

Wilson’s distinction implied the need for bureaucratic efficiency and the existence of general principles of administration that are applicable to all types of political systems.

However, at a later stage Wilson asserted that the administration cannot function independently.  Administration be related with the other branches of government.  It’s foundation is deeply rooted in politics.  Wilson finally concluded that public administration, by nature is a subject of public law.  Thus, it is evident that Wilson was aware of the interrelatedness of politics and public administration, he tried to separate them to make public administration an independent subject.  Hence it appears that Wilson vacillated between separability and inseparability of public administration from politics.  This confusion in the Wilson made the later scholars to interpret his politics administration dichotomy variously.

Nevertheless, the politics administration dichotomy was proposed by Wilson and accepted by the scholars who immediately followed him.  The dichotomy became a dominant model in the study of public administration during the first phase of its history. Frank J. Goodknow who immediately followed Wilson, also made a distinction between politics and administration.  Gooknow contended that, there were two district functions of government which can be identified as politics and administration.  According to him politics has to do with policies or expressions of the state’s will, while, administration executes these policies.

The politics-administration dichotomy which originated in the writings of Wilson dominated the field till the end of Second World War.  The dichotomy became an important component of classical theories who intended to build an independent subject of public administration on scientific lines.  It was also intended to solve the value problem in public administration.  It was pleaded that the separation would help the political system to establish values and get goals for administration.