Minnowbrook Conference III

What is the Minnowbrook conference at first place ?

A once-in-a-generation event held every twenty years, the Minnowbrook conference brings together the top scholars in public administration and public management to reflect on the state of the field and its future.

Minnowbrook I (1968), II (1988), and III (2008) are watershed events in the intellectual development of public administration.

Before moving to Minnowbrook Conference III letzz have a look at first two 

First MinnowBrook Conference - 

1. It was organised in the backdrop of anger and unrest against the Government.

2. It was organised in opposition to Philadelphia Conference.

3. It had participants from department of Political Science. Hence its approach was narrow and limited.

4. It focus was Change, Relevance, Social Equity and Value.

5. It gave rise to the concept of Public Administration.

6. New Public Administration failed in practise.

7. Its theme, tenure, tone and temperament was more radical and anti Government.

8. Its proceeding were combined in a report by Frank Marini in 1971 named "Toward a New Public Administration:The Minnow Brook Perspective".

9. It was held under the chairmanship of Dwight Waldo.

Second Minnow Brook Conference - 

1. It was organised when the economy of USA was upbeat and a sense of euphoria was present among the masses.

2. It was organised for the support and expansion of US Public Administration.

3. Its participants were from field of Public Administration, Political Science, law, management, administration etc. Hence it was more broad-based and liberal.

4. Its focus was LPG - Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation.

5. It gave rise to the concept of New Public Management.

6. New Public Management proved to be successful.

7. It was highly encouraging and supportive.

8. All its proceedings were published in the essays in the Minnow Brook tradition edited by Richard T. Mayor and published by Timmy Bailey - "Public Management in the Inter-Connected World:Essays in the Minnow Brook Tradition." (1990)

9. It was held under the chairmanship of H George Fredrickson. 

Minnowbrook Conference III
  • This conference took place during September, 2008. It was organised when American economy was downgrading and global terrorism had shown its first effect.
  •  It was chaired by Rosemary O’Leary

Global Concerns :- global terrorism, economy and ecological imbalances etc.

Participation :- This invited participants from other countries as well hence it was global in approach focussing upon global challenges and problems of Public Administration.

Main Focus : - Its focus was upon structural and functional reforms or second generation reforms.

Concept originated : - It gave rise to the concept of 3 E's - Economy, Efficiency and Effectiveness.

It was conducted in two phases. 

The first phase was a pre-conference phase. In this conference, the young and emerging scholars of public administration were asked to contribute a five page critique of public administration. Almost 56 proposals were accepted and considered. In this conference, a single formal critique of public administration was not being able to be developed rather a dozen of areas of concern in public administration were identified such as

1.      The Academic-Practitioner Relationship
2.      Democratic Performance Management
3.      Performance measurement
4.      Globalization and International Perspective
5.      Administrative ethics and values
6.      Information technology and management
7.      Methodology and inter-disciplinary perspective

The second phase was conducted in a round table format. It was a get-together of senior scholars. The scholars were divided into various groups based on their areas of concern. Simultaneously, a number of issues relating to public administration were discussed. Finally, three major areas of emphasis were identified. 

They are

1.      It emphasized on Comparative Studies. In this conference, it was acknowledged that because of impact of LPG and IT, no system could be meaningfully studied in isolation. The systems across the world are interconnected.

2.      It emphasized on Action Research and Methodological Pluralism. In this conference, there was an agreement that for the study of Public Administration to be meaningful, it is required that the teachings in Public Administration should include the teachings on methodologies and tools and techniques to undertake research. It was realized that a discipline will become more and more enriched when there will be more R&D. If the students are more equipped with the tools and techniques, they can independently carry out their own research. This will provide a robust foundation for the study of the discipline. It also emphasized that the findings of the research should be subjected to Peer Review. It also recognized the importance of Multiple Approach or Multiple viewpoints towards the study of public administration.

3.   It came out with a redefinition of public administration. According to this conference, public administration is considered as a socially embedded process of relationship, dialogue and action to promote human flourishing for all 

Comparing it with Minnowbrook I & II

  • Minnowbrook conference in 1968 and 1988 discussed the need for increasing RIGOUR and RELEVANCE in Pub Ad while preserving its DIVERSITY and UNIQUE IDENTITY.
  •  The first two conferences can well be characterised as a search for identity and legitimacy as a separate field of study.
  • By the THIRD MINNOWBROOK CONFERENCE .....the crisis of IDENTITY was no LONGER a central FOCUS . The discipline already had itzz own journals and trained PROFESSIONALs nd SCHOLARs. 
  • Rather much discussion focussed on DIVERSITY and infact many new scholars participating for the first time pressed for more diversity in PERSPECTIVE and SUBJECT MATTER !! .

Meaning of Public Administration

Meaning of Public Administration

 Public Administration carries two major dimensions:

---As an activity.
---As an area of study.

Practice – activity by government
Government in Action
Actional part of governance

As an area of study – as a systematic area of study believes in govt. in action and many more than that.

Epistemology of public Administration.

Public – specific meaning for public Administration

Dwight Waldo: It means State or government

Administration: Origin from two latin terms in combination has given rise to. Administration.

Ad + Ministrare: to take care, to save or to look after

E.N. Gladden: “Term Administration appears to be long and pompous but it carries a very humble meaning”.

Other Definitions of Public administration

Ø L D White observes, “Public Administration consist of all those operations 

having for their purpose the fulfilment or enforcement of public policy”.

Ø Pliffner defines It would seem that “Public Administration consists of getting the 

work of government done by co-ordinating the efforts of the people so that 

they can work together to accomplish their set tasks”.

Ø Prof: Woodrow Wilson defined Public Administration as detailed and systematic 

execution of public law; every particular application of general law is an act of 


Ø Luther Gullick ‘Public Administration is that part of the science of 

administration which has to do with Government and thus concerns itself 

primarily with the executive branch where the work of the government is done.

Nicholas Henry's Paradigms with relation to EVOLUTION of PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION...

PARADIGM 1: THE POLITICS/ADMINISTRATION DICHOTOMY, 1900-1926 - The concentration of study during this period was on locus, where public administration should be.

A.  Frank J. Goodnow (1859-1939) – in his published book on Politics and Administration (1900), he identified two distinct functions of government:

1. Politics – has to do with policies or expressions of the state will.
2. Administration – has to do with the execution of these policies.

    Goodnow and his fellow administrationists view public administration to center in the government bureaucracy. During the “public service movement” taking place in American universities in the early part of the century, public administration received its first serious attention from scholars.
     In 1914, the Committee on Instruction in Government of the American Political Science Association issued a statement that political science was concerned with training for citizenship, professional preparations such as law, and training “experts and to prepare specialists for governmental positions.”

B. Leonard D. White (1891-1958) – he published in 1926 the first textbook devoted in to the field of public administration, Introduction to the Study of Public Administration.

 The book is considered by Waldo as quintessentially American progressive in character.

1.                  Politics should not intrude on administration;
2.                  Management lends itself to scientific study;
3.                  Public administration is capable of becoming a “value-free” science in its own right;
4.                  The mission of administration is economy and efficiency.

     In this paradigm, the notion was to strengthen a distinct politics/administration dichotomy by relating it to value/fact dichotomy. Everything that public administrationists scrutinized in the executive branch was imbued with the colorings and legitimacy of being somehow “factual” and “scientific”, while the study of policy making and related matters was left to the political scientists. In political science departments, it is the public administrationists who teach organization theory, budgeting, and personnel while political scientists teach virtually everything else.

PARADIGM 2: THE PRINCIPLES OF ADMINISTRATION, 1927-1937 – the concentration of study during this period was on focus – essential expertise in the form of administrative principles.

1.                  927 - F. W. Willoughby published his book, Principles of Public Administration, the second fully fledged text in the field depicting certain scientific principles of administration.

2.                  1930s and early 1940s – Public administrationists were in demand for their managerial knowledge, courted by industry and government alike. ‘Principles were principles, and administration was administration.’

3.                  1937 – Luther H. Gullick and Lyndall Urwick’s papers on the Science of Administration called the “high noon of orthodoxy” pointed out the importance of principles to favor ‘focus’

THE CHALLENGE, 1938-1950

1. Politics and administration could never be separated in any remotely sensible fashion.
2. The principles of administration were logically inconsistent.
3. Questioned the assumption that politics and administration could be dichotomized. This is supported by “A theory of public administration means in our time a theory of politics also.”
4. There could be no such thing as a “principle” of administration

   The first and second challenges were revealed in the books of Chester I. Barnard’s The Functions of the Executive and Herbert A. Simon’s Administrative Behavior in 1938. The third challenge was revealed by Fritz Morstein Marx’s Elements of Public Administration in 1946 and John Merriman Gaus’s Trends in the Theory of Public Administration” in 1950. The fourth challenge was revealed in the books of Robert A Dahl, Simon, Waldo, and others. Simon’s Administrative Behavior pointed out that for every “principle” of administration there was a counter-principle therefore it is questionable.


Positive (on the part of public administration)

   Alternative suggestions from Simon’s “A comment on ‘The Science of Public Administration’” as reinforcing components for public administrationists:

1. “Pure science of public administration” – a thorough grounding in social psychology
2. “Prescribing for public policy” – resurrecting the unstylish field of political economy

However, public administrationists didn’t want to be ban from the richest sources of inquiry which is the normative political theory, the concept of the public interest and the entire spectrum of human values.

   Public administration considered the formulation of public policies within public bureaucracies and their delivery to the polity.

Negative (on the part of political science)

   Political scientists resisted the growing independence of public administrationists. Lynton K. Caldwell called for “intellectualized understanding” of the executive branch rather than “knowledgeable action” on the part of public administrators.

   The drawing card for student enrollments and government grants favoring public administration affected the field of political science.
The formation of the National Science Foundation in 1950 brought the message to all that the chief federal science agency considered political science to be distinctly junior member of the social sciences based on increasing evidence that political science was held in low esteem by scholars in other fields.


 1950s – Establishing linkages between public administration and political science. Public administration is an “emphasis”, an “area of interest”, a “synonym” of political science.
 1962 – Public administration was not included as a subfield of political science in the report of the Committee on Political Science as a Discipline of the American Political Science Association.
 1964 – A survey of political scientists indicated that the Public Administration Review was slipping in prestige among political scientists relative to other journals and signaled a decline of faculty in public administration.
 1967 – Public administration disappeared as an organizing category in the program of the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.
 1972 – A survey indicated that only four percent of all the articles published between 1960 and 1970 could be included in the category of “bureaucratic politics”, the only category of the 15 possible that related directly to public administration.


 1956 – An important journal, Administrative Science Quarterly was founded by an administrationist on the premise that public, business, and institutional administration were false distinctions. Thus, administration is administration.

 1960s – Organization theory should be the overarching focus of public administration according to Keith M. Henderson and others. “Organization development” began its rapid rise as a specialty in administrative science due to its involvement in social psychology, opening up of organizations, and self-actualization of the members.

A conflict arises between the public administration and private administration as triggered by administrative science. However, after years of painful dilemma, it was conceived that the concept of determining and implementing the public interest constitutes a definition of public administration.


 The term “public affairs” became popularized.
 Public administrationists have been increasingly concerned on areas of policy science, political economy, public policy-making process and its analysis, measurement of policy outputs.


 Public administration is, at last, intellectually prepared for the building of an institutionally autonomous educational curriculum. This is because of the presence of a paradigmatic focus of organization theory and management science and also a paradigmatic locus of the public interest as it relates to public affairs.


1. 1970-1971 – Undergraduate enrollments in public administration increased by 36 percent.
2. 1971-1972 – Graduate enrollments went up 50 percent based on figures provided by NASPAA (National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration)
3. Graduate public administration programs that were part of political science departments sank from 48% to 36% during these periods.
4. Those programs connected with business schools (13%) appeared to be declining.
5. The percentage of separate schools of public administration more than doubled from 12% in 1971 to 25% in 1972.
6. Separate departments of public administration accounted for 23% of the 101 graduate programs surveyed in 1971-73.
7. In an 18-month period between 1970 and 1972, the number of units pertaining public administration more than doubled to approximately 300.

 It is time for public administration to come into its own as substantial progress has been in this direction intellectually. However, it remains to be done.

Sixth PARADIGM later came in that is GOVERNANCE

Where both the locus and focus was maintained …!!!!