'Our Usable Past': A Historical Contextual Approach to Administrative Values

10 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2019

See all articles by Donald P. Moynihan

Donald P. Moynihan

Georgetown University - McCourt School of Public Policy

Date Written: September 1, 2009

Abstract

In responding to Professor Lynn’s criticism that the field of public administration has been insufficiently attentive to law, this article offers an alternative perspective on the source of administrative legitimacy. Leonard White understood that public administration is shaped by its broader context. It does not assert its own values but, in an effort to maintain legitimacy, reflects the political and cultural values of its environment. In White’s time, the extraordinary challenges that the state faced, and its subsequent transformation, demanded a management capacity that previously had not existed. While the role of law as a formal means of control is generally accepted, it must take its place with management and other administrative values in the exercise of legal discretionary behavior. Asserting law, or any other single administrative value, as dominant undercuts other values that act as sources of legitimacy.

Suggested Citation

Moynihan, Donald P., 'Our Usable Past': A Historical Contextual Approach to Administrative Values (September 1, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3500319 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3500319

Donald P. Moynihan (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - McCourt School of Public Policy ( email )

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