Revisiting Fred W. Riggs’ Model in the Context of ‘Prismatic’ Societies Today

Date01 March 2021
Published date01 March 2021
Subject MatterArticles
Revisiting Fred W.
Riggs’ Model in the
Context of ‘Prismatic’
Societies Today
Rumki Basu1
F. W. Riggs initiated seminal areas of enquiry and research right from the begin-
ning of his journey as an author and a theorist in public administration. His life-
time publications testify to a search for an ‘authentic’ model for analysing the
administrative structures and behaviour of developing countries since the 1960s.
Riggs pursued what is known as the ‘ecological’ study of public administration
which presumes that public administration, functioning in different environments,
influences and is influenced by the environment in which it functions. Scholars
of comparative public administration have long been familiar with the ‘fused–
prismatic–diffracted model’, which was later reformulated by Riggs to exert enor-
mous influence on the understanding of public administration and organisational
behaviour in different parts of the world. In the wake of the tremendous trans-
formation with diverse developmental strategies in the Third World and South
Asia in particular, in the last fifty years, it becomes important to re-examine
Riggs’ models both in the Indian and other developing country contexts today.
Prismatic societies, social transformation, seminal research, ecological model,
developmental strategies
Fred W. Riggs’ article ‘Agraria and Industria: Toward a Typology of Comparative
Administration’ (1957) won him instant recognition and accolades from scholars
of public administration. Since the publication of The Ecology of Public
Administration (1961) and Administration in Developing Countries (1964), Riggs
Indian Journal of Public
67(1) 87–95, 2021
© 2021 IIPA
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/00195561211005632
1 Department of Political Science, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Rumki Basu, Department of Political Science, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi 110025, India.

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