History: Public Administration and Natureof Big Questions Essay

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What Makes Public Administration a Science? Or, Are Its "Big Questions" Really Big? Author(s): Francis X. Neumann, Jr. Source: Public Administration Review, Vol. 56, No. 5 (Sep. - Oct., 1996), pp. 409-415 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Society for Public Administration Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/977039 Accessed: 18/06/2009 18:16
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Public "Big




X.Neumann, Air (Retired) Jr., U.S. Force Francis

publicadminisquestions basic Whatare theappropriate research It trationmustaddress it is to aspireto thestatusof a science? if basic that natureof thetruesciences those is thephilosophical of and character origins theircore the concern essential questions research that proposes theappropriate matters.Neumann subject those for questions publicadministration, at thelevelwhich the and of mustconcern structure dynamics the defines discipline, a sciences, new thepublicorganization.Withinthephysical as systems nonlinear, that is paradigm emerging viewsnatural " Thisnew viewof opensystems now and complex, "chaotic. of the to obliges publicadministrators readdress dynamics their systems-thepublicorganizations. ownartificial Thus,such theory, as basicquestions thosewhichrelateto organizational of and publicmanagement, the relationship thepublicorganizaundertheconnow tion to its environment needto be revisited and cepts complexity chaos. of

in his recent Administration essay the Public "The of Review, BigQuestions Public ManageRobert (1995) asked to conBehn has us ment," siderwhich"bigquestions" to be of central are for His importance public management. nomination of three suitable questions involves than more the big exercise setting future of a research academic simple is of Far agenda. more important whatthenature means bothto public thosequestions management of to and thelarger discipline public administration. Behn correct hestates Professor is absolutely when is that"any of science defined thebigquesfield by he tionsit asks" 314). Bywayof example, cites (p. certain areas specialized withinthe broad fieldof The in for physics. bigquestions cosmology, examof the of ple,concern nature theBigBang origins the whilein theoretical particle) universe, (or physics, thebigquestions concern basic the of composition matter energy. and "the Equally important, bigquestionsabout are it physics whatmake a science" (p. 314). It is immediately that apparent Behn's quesbig tionsin physics concern either basic the of nature ortheir things origins. Surely, questions on such are their veryfaceimportant worthy investigaand of is them makes big