Shaking Hands With Hitler: The Politics-Administration Dichotomy and Engagement With Fascism
35 Pages Posted: 31 May 2018 Last revised: 6 Oct 2018
Date Written: September 29, 2018
Researchers have examined the impact of the politics-administration dichotomy on the practice and theory of public administration within the United States. But the dichotomy also influenced patterns of international engagement by American experts in the 1920s and 1930s. Americans believed that they could set politics aside and collaborate on administrative questions with regimes that did not respect democracy and human rights. This belief was tested after the rise of Hitler. American experts in public administration engaged with the Nazi regime for three years, ignoring controversy over Nazi policies. The breaking point came in 1936. American experts finally recognized that it was impossible to ignore political questions and became forthright proponents of "democratic administration." This struggle to define the boundaries of international engagement is relevant today, as specialists in public administration find themselves in a world where a shared commitment to democracy and human rights cannot be taken for granted.
Keywords: public administration, ethics, international cooperation
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