Paradigms of Pubic Administration and E-government

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Paradigms of Pubic Administration and E-government

  1. Introduction

Paradigm is an overworked word. However, it is an important one like no other word that conveys the concept of self-identity of public administration and identifies the fluctuating dynamics of that concept. Therefore, the concepts of paradigm are essential in the field of public administration. 90% of the workers in public administration are degree holders in the area of public administration, which means that the manner in which the field is described is the way in which the government functions. There are five paradigms of public administration that have been formulated for the purpose of depicting the uniqueness of public administration and synthetization of the newness of the field. The discipline is perceived as a mixture of public interest concepts, management science, and organization theory.

  1. Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how the paradigms of public administration are reflected in e-government.

  1. Literature Review
  2. History and Paradigms of PA

The birth of the public administration as a field of study is marked by the publication of Wilson in 1887 (Islam & Ehsan, (2017). From that time to the late 1970s, Henry has contributed significantly to the field by identifying the five paradigms. The first was between 1900-1926, the second 1927-1937, the third 1950-1970, the fourth 1956-1970, and the fifth from 1970 to an unknown date. However, research suggests that the fifth paradigm came to a closure in the 1990s. This is because a new idea was innovated in 2001, which permeated the practice and theories of public administration, making the paradigm in the discipline shift.

The first paradigm is the administration/politics dichotomy. The aim of this paradigm was to fortify the concept of distinct administration/ politics dichotomy by associating it to a corresponding fact/ value dichotomy. The second paradigm is the administration principles (Henry, 1975). In the United States, this paradigm roots in the advocacy of Woodrow Wilson of the science of administration which seeks to reinforce the government paths, with the aim of making its business unbusinesslike, and to purify and fortify its organization as well as crowning its duties. Additionally, this movement looked forward to emulating some of the superior management strategies used in some business firms. The third paradigm is the concept of public administration as political science. This paradigm focuses on the identification of public administration as a political matter with special consideration of democracy. The fourth paradigm is the concept of public administration as administrative management. Administrative management, as a paradigm, cannot comprehend the significance of public interest. Without the idea of the public interest, the science of administration can be utilized for any purpose, regardless of how violating to values of democracy the purpose might be. Therefore, the concept of the public interest should be encompassed in the public administration. The fifth paradigm is the concept of public administration as a public administration. This paradigm defines the idea of the public administrators becoming comfortable with being public administrators instead of the business management specialists, sociologists of the political scientists who train as public administrators.

  1. E-Government
  2. History

Electronic government has managed and provided a space for paradigm shift and is still debatable in the academic field. However, the claims of this change can be rooted in the fact that transformations have taken place in the practices and processes of the public administration, structure, policy, and management. The shifts are depicted in the outputs, throughputs, and inputs of the system, which have resulted in the changes in functionalities of the public administration. With some researchers identifying the sixth paradigms as public administration as new public administration, others have extended the seventh paradigm coexisting with the sixth, though it is the dominant one. Researchers have identified the seventh paradigm as public administration as e-government. This is due to the increased role that is being played by information and communication technology in public administration operations. The technology resulted in the revolutionization of the processes, structure and changed the way the public administration systems functions around the citizens. The governance system has been implemented by close to all the governments around the world.

  1. Definitions

E-government is a term that has been defined differently by various people. Some people describe the terms based on specific actions such as the application of Social Security benefits, application of jobs, and creation of multiple agency networks (Janowski, 2016). Others define it as automated government services. However, E-government encompasses the employment of information technology, more so the internet, to enhance the delivery of the services of the government to the government agencies, businesses, and the citizens. It directly connects the citizens with the federal government while potentially raising new challenges and opportunities. It enables the delivery of government services to the citizens all the time, around the clock. It makes access to the services more reliable, less costly, and convenient.

  • Reasons for the Adoption of E-government, Facts and Prevalence

E-government began approximately two decades ago. The federal government started automating its operations in the background with little emphasis on automating the functions related to customers, such as service delivery and information dissemination (Janowski, 2016). However, the attention began shifting from just background operations to emphasize the concept of e-citizen, which focused on enhancing the delivery of public services to the citizens. During the same period, the public administrators were conducting a review of electronic government, with the publication of the report constituting the current e-government idea. With the envisioning of e-government in the report, the government diverted its primary emphasis on economy and internal efficiency to service delivery via digital media. Integration of the visions and the Information Technology led to the establishment of the e-government.

  1. Analysis of the Paradigms and E-government

The general view is that society develops and works under the assistance of some specific administrative services. The historical reinterpretation of the paradigm of governance resulted in the evolution of new conditions for the functioning of public administration. However, the effect of the paradigms was eventually lost (Janowski, 2016). The upsurge in the scope of knowledge specialization, differentiation, and information has led to the emergence of an information society that has new governance objectives. The adoption of active information processes in the public administration, characterized by a transformation of relations of the government and the citizens, made the older paradigms effect minimal in the current public administration of information society. The new e-government encompasses three approaches within its framework, with the first one being e-commerce. This on the basis of rendering services to the citizens as consumers. The government aspires to fulfill the interest of the taxpayers, hence raising its efficiency, and work towards ensuring capitalization by replacing the old working models with more effective and technological models. The second approach perceives e-government as an informatization organization. The third approach highlights the e-government as a transformation tool of the government. This makes the e-government a new administrative paradigm.

However, there are some paradigms that are reflected in e-government. One of the paradigms is the second principle, principles of public administration, which emphasizes the organization of the public administration and adoption of some of the business firms’ strategies. E-government reflects this through the first approach of e-commerce (Janowski, 2016). The information is highly organized to increase the efficiency of delivering services to the consumers. Additionally, it aims at ensuring the satisfaction of the citizens by adopting new models. Another paradigm is public administration management. This paradigm is reflected by the second approach, which focuses on the management of the internal organization of the internal information for easy access by the user.  It targets real-time delivery of information. The fifth paradigm is reflected by the third approach, which assigns the responsibility of rendering information to one of the innovative technologies, hence the transformation of the government. The fifth paradigm gives that responsibility to the public administrators.

  1. Conclusion

The public administration has experienced transformations in the past since the concept was first advanced by Wilson. Since then, Henry formulated five paradigms of public administrations, with the last one being from 1970. However, since the emergence of information and communication technology, the effectiveness of the paradigms have been widely questioned, with researchers suggesting the possibility of paradigm shift. The shift was conceptualized with the emergence of the e-government. The new society works towards the delivery of services to the citizens through the employment of technological innovations. However, despite the shift, some of the paradigms are reflected in the e-government, including the principles of public administration, public administration management, and public administration as a public administration.




Henry, N. (1975). Paradigms of public administration. Public Administration Review, 378-386.

Islam, M. M., & Ehsan, M. (2017). E-governance as a paradigm shift in public administration: Theories, applications, and management. In Public Affairs and Administration: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications (pp. 103-117). IGI Global.

Janowski, T. (2016). Digital government evolution: From transformation to contextualization.


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