An Analysis of Woodrow Wilson’s Essay on Administration

Author Amal Chandra C.
Published date01 December 2022
Date01 December 2022
Subject MatterNotes
An Analysis of Woodrow
Wilson’s Essay on
Amal Chandra C.1
The sphere of public administration has seen tremendous transformation and pro-
gress in recent decades. This Note makes two important attempts—first, to trace
the eternal relevance of one of the most famous and historic essays of the social
sciences, by Woodrow Wilson, in the continuing evolution process of public
administration as an independent academic discipline with an intelligible prag-
matic structure. Second, to highlight the significant points he raised and indicate
the contemporary relevance of the essay, which guides the very complex, strategic
and interconnected discourses related to authority and governance, through a
precise analysis of it. The purpose of this piece, in my perspective, is to make an
evaluation that would shed light upon the root of constant pressures the political
regimes across the world face due to the dynamic nature of internal and external
structures attached to the institution of government.
The three-part essay titled ‘The Study of Administration’ by Woodrow Wilson
(1887), a former American President, politician and academician, published in the
prestigious Political Science Quarterly in July 1887 during his teaching period at
the Bryn Mawr College, calls for an action to reform public administration as a
separate intellectual discipline outside the sphere of politics through detailed and
systematic application of public laws. He clearly explained the ‘politics-adminis-
tration dichotomy’ and the need for an autonomous administration, distinct from
politics, with an independent and professionally trained bureaucracy with experts
who respect the separation of powers derived from the ‘consent of the governed’.
For him, ‘politics is the special province of the statesman’ while administration,
in contrast, is the most pivotal aspect of technical officials. An optimistic intel-
lectual, Wilson believed in the power of a few wise people over those with nega-
tive attitudes and answers about the question of role assigned to public opinion
Indian Journal of Public
68(4) 719–722, 2022
© 2022 IIPA
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/00195561221097954
1 Department of Politics and International Studies, Pondicherry Central University, Puducherry, India.
Corresponding author:
Amal Chandra C., Department of Politics and International Studies, Pondicherry Central University,
Puducherry 605014, India.

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