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Political and Administrative Responsibilities

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Actors, Interests and Lobbying
Administration and Governance
Administrative Law and Constitutional Checks on the Executive
All-Powerful Leaders?: The Concentration of Power in Modern Executives
Bureaucracy and the Formulation of Public Policy
Canadian Intergovernmental Structures and Operating Processes
Conceptual and Theoretical Foundations of Third Sector Governance and Management
Courts, Judicial Review, Rights and Democracy
Emergence of the Nation State
Executive Authority, Cabinet and Leadership
Executive Leadership in Government
Executive-Legislative Relations
Federal-Provincial Fiscal Relations
Federal-Provincial-Municipal Relations
Game Theory and Rational Institutionalism
Indigenous Rights and Institutions
Institutional Architecture: Federalism
Institutional Designs and Paths
Machinery of Government
Media, Framing and Agenda Setting
New Public Management
Parliamentary, Presidential and Decentralized Unitary Systems
Political and Administrative Responsibilities
Political and Administrative Responsibilities
Political Parties and Elections
Probing the Accuracy of Rational Decision Making Models: Alternative Accounts
Public and Para-Public Institutions
Public Institutions, Organizing Principles and Democratic Control
Public Opinion, Ideas and Policy Frames
Representation and Accountability
Representation and Responsiveness
Representation, Accountability and Policy
The Architecture of the Canadian State
The Bureaucracy and Bureaucratic Behaviour
The Changing Role of the State
The Democratic Deficit: Ethics, Responsiveness and Performance
The International Context of Domestic Institutions
The Policy Cycle
The Political Context of Policy Making
Weber: Rationalization and Bureaucracy
Westminster Parliamentary Systems
Who are the Players in the Policy Process?

A Teaching Topic in Democratic Institutions and Policy Process 

Political and Administrative Responsibilities

This topic looks at administrative processes, the role of public administrators, and the challenges of administrative decision-making. It discusses the different roles and responsibilities of elected and unelected public officials (Rutgers 790:341:80). In a parliamentary context, this topic examines the central principle of a political executive drawn from and responsible to the legislative assembly. It investigates the concerns that the mechanisms of responsible government and ministerial responsibility are increasingly less able to hold the government of the day to account. Does the system work as it was originally designed to work? Is it a system that is adequate for the demands of contemporary governance? What are the consequences for public servants (JSGS 801)? In a congressional context, this topic examines many similar questions. Concepts include administrative pluralism, subgovernments (also known as issue networks, subsystems, and iron triangles), politics-administration dichotomy, cooptation, and punctuated equilibrium (PUAD 612).

Topic Learning Outcome: Upon mastering this topic, students will understand the relationship between elected and unelected public officials as well as the appropriate responsibilities of both types of public servants.

Core Concepts Associated With This Topic:  Public Management; Administrative Law; Advice (in the Public Service context); Governance

Recommended Reading

Saskatchewan/Regina: JSGS 801 Governance and Administration

Bakvis, Herman and Mark D. Jarvis, 2012 From New Public Management to New Political Governance, Montreal and Kingston, Queens-McGill University Press.

Chapter 9: Jonathon Boston and John Halligan, “Political Management and New Political Governance: Reconciling Political Responsiveness and Neutral Competence”

Sutherland, Sharon. 1991. “Responsible Government and Ministerial Responsibility: Every Solution is its Own Problem.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 24(1), 91-111.

Smith, David. 2007. “Clarifying the Doctrine of Ministerial Responsibility as it Applies to the Government and Parliament of Canada.” Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities Research Studies I. 101-43. http://dsp-

Mulgan, Richard. 2010. “Where Have All the Ministers Gone?” Australian Journal of Public Administration, 69 (3): 289-300.

Polidano, Charles. 1999. “The Bureaucrat Who Fell Under a Bus: Ministerial Responsibility, Executive Agencies and The Derek Lewis Affair in Britain.” Governance 12(2): 201-229.

D’Ombrain, Nicolas. 2007. “Ministerial Responsibility and the Machinery of Government,” Canadian Public Administration 50(2): 195-218

Toronto: PPG 1007H Putting Policy Into Action: Strategic Implementation of Public Objectives

Michael Moran, Martin Rein and Robert E. Goodin, eds. Oxford Handbook of Public Policy. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), Chapter 1, ‘The Public and Its Policies’. 25 pages.

Michael Prince, ‘Avoiding blame, doing good and claiming credit:  reforming Canadian income security’, Canadian Public Administration, September 2010, pages 293-296, 315-319.

‘Rob Ford:  Toronto Mayor becoming province’s problem’, Martin Regg Cohn, Toronto Star, 9/11/13.

Winship, Christopher, “Policy Analysis as Puzzle Solving”, in Moran, Rein and Goodin, ibid., pp. 109-121.

American: PUAD 612 Public Administration in the Policy Process

Frank J. Goodnow, “Politics and Administration,” (1900).

Paul Appleby, “Government is Different,” from Big Democracy (1945).

Philip Selznick, “The Cooptative Mechanism,” (1949).

Theodore J. Lowi, The End of Liberalism (1969).

Frank R. Baumgartner and Bryan D. Jones, Agendas and Instability in American Politics (1993).

UCLA: PP 202 American Political Institutions and Processes

Deborah A. Stone. Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making, 3rd Ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011. Introduction, Chapters 1-4, 6-9, 11-14, Conclusion.

R. Kent Weaver. Ending Welfare as We Know It. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2000. Chapter 6, “The Role of Policy Research,” pp. 135-168.

Rutgers: 790:341:80 Introduction to Public Administration: American Bureaucracy

Denhardt, Robert B. & Janet V. Denhardt, Public Administration: An Action Orientation, 6th edition. Belmont, CA: Thompson Wadsworth, 2009. Chapter 1, Personal Action in Public Organizations pp.1-21; and Chapter 2, The Political Context of PA, pp. 35-48.

Woodrow Wilson, The Study of Administration

Denhardt, Robert B. & Janet V. Denhardt (see citation above). Chapter 2, The Political Context of PA, pp. 49-74

George Frederickson 1999. “1999 John Gaus Lecture - The Repositioning of American Public Administration” PS: Political Science and Politics. 701-711

Henry Mintzberg, 1996. Managing Government, Governing Management. Harvard Business Review 74 (3): 75-85.

Syllabi Cited

Saskatchewan/Regina: JSGS 801 Governance and Administration, Fall 2014, U of R

Toronto: PPG 1007H Putting Policy Into Action: Strategic Implementation of Public Objectives, Winter 2014

American: PUAD 612 Public Administration in the Policy Process, Fall 2011

UCLA: PP 202 American Political Institutions and Processes, Winter 2014

Rutgers: 790:341:80 Introduction to Public Administration: American Bureaucracy, Spring 2010

Possible Assessment Questions

  1. Describe some of the responsibilities of elected government officials in the government.
  2. What is the politics-administration dichotomy?
  3. Describe key criticisms of the politics-administration dichotomy as a theory of government.

Page created by: Sean Goertzen and Ben Eisen on 24 October 2014.


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School of Public Policy and Governance