B. Guy Peters Discusses Public Administration and Public Policy

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    • 00:18

      B. GUY PETERS: Well, let's start with public policy.Basically, public policy is all of those thingsthat governments and their partnersdo to try to influence the economy in the society.So I have to say with their partnersbecause so much of government actionis actually done through private meansthat they use for implementation,

    • 00:40

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: for advice, etc.Now, secondly, the public in public administrationis essentially the administrative partof all that public action to try to influence economyin society.So we typically think of that as the implementation part.There's a law.It has to be put into effect.

    • 00:60

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: And basically people in public administration do that.But again, they do it with their partners.And an increasing amount of public administrationis actually being done by corporations,by not-for-profits, by volunteers.So that is not simply a public versus private divide.There's a mixture between the public and the private.

    • 01:29

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: Well, public administration is to some extenta part of the whole policy process.That administrators deliver the servicesonce the policies have been made,but they often are essential for the design of the programs.So these are people who have yearsof experience with health or defense

    • 01:49

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: or whatever they are doing.And so they have a lot of advice theycan give to the politicians who formally make the policies.And indeed increasingly politiciansaren't very expert in making policy.They rely upon the public bureaucracy, on think tanks,and perhaps all too often on lobbyists.

    • 02:17

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: I think it's all three.So it is, to some extent, a profession.It is a craft.So people who are full-time public administratorsare professionals, perhaps not the same waythat a doctor or a nurse would be,but they're still professionals.They have a specific training.They have a code of ethics.

    • 02:38

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: They have some obligations to provide services.Now it's increasingly a science.So when we teach public administrationwe use all of the weapons, quote unquote-- the toolsof conventional social science and sometimes natural sciencebecause we're administrating something.

    • 02:59

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So if we're administrating environmental policy,you have to know natural science.And if you're administrating defenseyou often have to know natural scienceto know if the rockets are going to work.So it is in part science.And then finally, it's also then an art,because it's an ability to get thingsdone in complex organizational settings,

    • 03:20

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: dealing with people who are often not particularlycommitted to what you want.So you've got to negotiate.You've got to bargain.You gotta threaten, cajole, do all these thingsto try to get things done.And the same way with when you get down to the street level,when you're dealing with social workers, policeman,tax inspectors, god forbid, who are actually

    • 03:42

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: delivering the public services.For them too, they have to deal with clients, oftenwho don't want to be there.And so they have to be able to deal with people.So a lot of this is in fact dealing with people.It's dealing with people both at the bottom of the pyramidsand at the top.So at the top, they are as Aaron Rudolfsky once

    • 04:04

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: said, speaking truth to power.And at the bottom they're essentiallytrying to get people to comply with public law.So it's a great deal of art.Again, you can't say it's any one of those three.It's all three.I think by the art I was talking particularlyabout dealing with people.And it's also an art to understand what might work.

    • 04:27

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: You can think about this as craft and profession,but you also then have to have almost the political judgmentto be able to figure out what's going to work, again, if you'respeaking to your nominal political mastersor if you're speaking to your clients.So you really are in a situation wherethe individual, the personal skills, again, art

    • 04:51

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: is a good enough word, make a difference in the abilityto do the job well.People assume that being a public administratoris dead easy.But arguably it's much harder than beingin the private sector, in part because A,you have no bottom line.You don't have profit and loss.It's much harder to tell if you're doing a good job or not.

    • 05:13

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: B, you have to deal with your political masters.C, you're administering in a goldfish bowl.You're accountable.So everybody is looking at you-- the newspapers,other media, social media increasingly.So you're administering in a goldfish bowlin which is much different than administeringin a private firm, or perhaps in a private university.

    • 05:36

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So our chancellor in a public university arguablyhas a much more difficult task than the presidentof a private university.In the 1990s we went through whatwas called new public management,and we're still to some extent dealing with it.

    • 05:58

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: And the notion here was that public administrationand public management were the same as private management.So traditionally they've been different.In part, public administration have been much more legalistic.Personnel management in the public sectorhave been done through civil service systemswith tenure, standardized pay and grading.

    • 06:21

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So it was a fairly conventional old-fashioned system.Now in the 90s-- and really beginning in the 80swith Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reaganas the two leading lights in this--begin to say that the public and the private sectorshould be managed in the same way.And so-called generic management--

    • 06:41

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: it's all management.Graham Allison at Harvard said that public and projectmanagement are alike in all unimportant respects for someof the same reasons that I just mentioned a moment ago--the accountability, the need to deal with public matters.But anyway, so we went through a long periodthen of trying to deal with the public sector

    • 07:03

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: as if it were a market actor, and if the management wasthe same in the public and the private sectors.So getting rid of tenure for public employees-- theycould be fired in ways that they couldn't be previously.We went to pay for performance instead of standardized payin grading.

    • 07:24

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: We broke up large government departmentsinto a series of single purpose government agenciesso that they could be held more financially accountable, whichto some extent produced a lot of good.So the sector did become, to some extent, more efficient.But there were also huge problems

    • 07:45

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: with the new public management.First of all this breaking up of the stateinto a whole set of autonomous or quasi-autonomousorganizations made the underlying problemsof coordination a lot more difficult.So you had many more organizationsthat had to be coordinated to be able to providemore coherent services.Secondly, it's hard to measure performance

    • 08:07

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: in white collar occupations.It's not like you're making a profit.So it's much harder to measure performancein the public sector.And when we have gone through developing performancemeasures, you can game them.So for example, one of the standard ones everyone knowsis standardized testing for students in schools.

    • 08:31

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: Now this is a performance measure.But teachers know this.So what do they do?They teach to the test, rather than perhaps teachingmore broadly so that students know something beyond the testand more importantly can have skills that are more fungibleand can be used in the future.So whenever you begin to set up these performance criteria

    • 08:53

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: people find ways around them so that they look good,keep their jobs, their organizationskeep their budgets, and everything is fine.So again, there's been some marked improvementsin public management in the efficiencyof the public sector.But efficiency isn't the only value that'simportant for government.It's effectiveness, it's probity, accountability.

    • 09:17

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So we perhaps focus too much on efficiency and not enoughon some of the other values.And we're going back.So even the countries that were the poster childrenfor new public management-- the two that are usually citedare New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

    • 09:38

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: Particularly New Zealand has revertedto a lot of relatively old-fashioned ways of managing.Another important point here for the American audienceis that the US did much less of this at the federal levelthan almost anybody else.So we still have a very old-fashioned personnelmanagement system in Washington.

    • 09:59

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: The states and localities have modernized, if youwant to call it modernizing.States and localities are modernized.But the feds have remain largely an old-fashioned civil servicesystem with some pay for performance at the top,largely because Congress likes it.Congress can control that system.They don't want the newer, more open, more flexible system.

    • 10:29

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: This was really caused by politicianswith a market orientation-- quote unquote neoliberals,like Thatcher, Reagan, Mulroney in Canada, all of whomwanted to make the public sector more efficient, morelike the market.And they thought they could do it.

    • 10:49

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: And to some extent they did.But they also, to some extent, sacrificedother important values along the way.Again, let me start at the back end first.Again, we tend to think about bureaucracy and democracy

    • 11:12

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: as being antithetical.That if a system is highly bureaucratic,it can't be democratic.On the other hand though, the bureaucracyis where most people encounter their governments.I mean, we rarely see our elected politicians.But we see bureaucrats every day.We see postmen.

    • 11:32

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: We see social workers.We see cops on the beat, crossing guards, teachers.We see public servants, bureaucrats every day.So this is to some extent then where citizensinteract with government.Secondly, bureaucracies increasinglyhave developed participatory mechanisms

    • 11:54

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: to allow citizens to participate at the bottom of the system.And we also know from a lot of survey evidenceand from actual evidence that citizens tendto care less now about voting.They tend not to participate in government and politicsat the level of voting nearly to the extent that they used to.And membership in political parties

    • 12:16

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: has dropped even more dramatically.So the places where citizens and governmentinterface increasingly is at the levelof actual service delivery.And that's to a great extent now howgovernments legitimate their actions isthrough providing good services rather than through all

    • 12:39

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: the trappings of democracy.So we all love democracy, but we don't turn out to vote.And so therefore we tend to be much more interestedin what the local school is doing, what the local swimmingpool is doing, what the local police force is doing,rather than in the grand issues of governing.Now, that sort of begins to answer the second part.

    • 13:03

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: Now, if government's going to work effectivelypublic administration has to work effectively.Again, if we're going to deliver good services to citizenson a reliable basis, then the public sector has to work.Now the other component typicallythat people talk about with good governmentis low levels of corruption.

    • 13:25

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: Now, for the most part, the federal government in the USis clean.State and local governments less so.They're still pretty good.But if we look at, for example, the World Bank statistics whomeasure good governance, good government,one of the measures they use frequently is corruption.

    • 13:48

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: Another measure they use frequentlyis how long it takes to get things done.So in most states in the US you can starta business in about two days.You can get all the licenses you need in two days.In some countries in Latin Americait may take a full year, simply because of all

    • 14:08

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: of the bureaucracy in the worst sense of the word-- the needto go from office to office to get things stamped,then go back to the other office to get another stamp.So that's basically the notion of efficiency.So good governance then, I would argueis the capacity to get things donethrough the public sector, accountability,

    • 14:30

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: and low levels of corruption.Essentially, policy issues come from citizenswhen they see things wrong and theytalk to their elected representatives.Those elected representatives themselves

    • 14:50

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: identify things that need to be fixed, that could be better.And the bureaucracies have ideas.You go to any office in the bureaucracy and start talking,and anybody at a high level probably has policy ideas.They've worked in the area for years.They've seen how things work.

    • 15:12

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: They know how things they think could be better.They may be wrong, but they think they can make it better.So the policy issues then arise simply because of imperfectionsin the economy and society.But they have to be perceived as imperfections.And they have to be brought on to some sortof political agenda to be able to be acted upon.

    • 15:33

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: Now it helps, for example, if an issue affects a lot of people,and particularly if a lot of people are concentrated.So 100,000 people unemployed spread across the whole countryis a problem, but it doesn't seem as badas 100,000 people concentrated in one state.

    • 15:55

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So the concentration of effects, the absenceof private alternatives.If we can't do it through the private sector thenthose issues have to go up to the public sector.So there are some things that simply can'tbe done through the market.For example, public goods.Things that you can't deter consumptiononce they're created, and hence you

    • 16:17

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: can't sell them because once they're there,why should I buy it?I can get it anyway.So some things are inherently public,and therefore have to become public policy issues.

    • 16:39

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So the argument here on framing isthat until the issue is brought into the public sectorand framed as an issue, then it's not an issue.For example, for most of our collective history,spousal abuse was never a policy issue.

    • 17:01

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: Husbands beat up wives.Sometimes wives beat up husbands.And that was simply a part of family life.Then in the 70s and 80s this became a policy issue.It became public and became a crime.So that issue had to be framed.And it was framed in part through the mobilizationof women's groups and simply increasing media attention

    • 17:25

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: to these issues.So we have to frame them.And the framing is important because issuesdon't come like Christmas presents with a name on them.They have to be named.So you have to be able to say what the issue is,and therefore who gets it.Drug policy is a classic example.So are drugs a health issue, a social issue?

    • 17:48

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: And people may take drugs because of poor familylife, economic issue, inequality,or are they merely law enforcement issues?Now, to some extent it matters how they're framed,first because various means of solving themcan be more effective than others.But secondly, within government, the way they're framed

    • 18:09

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: determines who gets the money, who gets the policy,and therefore who's going to win their bureaucratic battles.So this is a part of the whole budgetary process, the policygame quote unquote, about who wins, who loses,and how issues then are going to be processed,

    • 18:31

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: how they're going to be addressedthrough public action.We don't have laboratories.We're not natural scientists.We can't put the rat in the laboratoryand have them run around the maze.We're dealing with real people and real policy issues.

    • 18:53

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So to some extent the world becomes the laboratory.So if-- pick a country, Germany, does somethinginteresting in environmental policy,we can try to see if it will work here.So one of the major strands of thinking now in public policyis so-called evidence-based policymaking--trying to collect as much evidence

    • 19:14

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: as possible, whether it's domesticallyor internationally, and then use that to tryto build your own policies.So if you see something that works, you try to copy it.Now often it doesn't work because the social conditions,the economic conditions, the culture are different.

    • 19:35

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: But it's a good place to start.And we're also fortunate in the US,being a federal system, that we centrallyhave 51 little laboratories available to us.Mr. Justice Brandeis in the 1930ssaid the states were the laboratories of democracy.So then we can try things out in the states, see if they work,

    • 19:60

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: and then if they do then perhaps take them federally,take them nationally.So for example, social security, the pension programwas first introduced in states in the upper Midwestlike Minnesota and Wisconsin and then taken nationally.Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act,was tried in Massachusetts and to some extent in Hawaii

    • 20:22

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: and then taken nationally.So we can learn from what we did at the state leveland try to transplant it to the national level.And again, in part because they're smaller, a bit moreflexible, the states often can innovatemuch more readily then can the federal government.

    • 20:45

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: One size does not fit all.So you do it through several ways.One is federalism.You give things to the states to run them differently.So even if you're giving grants--increasing the granting program from the federal governmentis in terms of block grants, relatively broad chunks

    • 21:06

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: of money that then give the states some latitude in howthey use them.So building a road in Florida is very different than buildinga road here in Pennsylvania.You don't have to deal with frost.You don't have to deal with mountains and so forth.So even simple things like building a roadare different in different parts of the country,leaving aside cultural issues, economic issues and so forth.

    • 21:29

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So federalism is one answer.And with federalism often also giving waiversso that the federal government may have a standard policy,but then states and cities can negotiate for waiversif they have an innovative idea or theydon't think that the policy actually fits them.

    • 21:49

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So for example, here in Pittsburghwe have a waiver on housing policy.So we can put all the housing money that's usuallyis in three programs into one big potand then use it in perhaps more creative ways.So instead of building large housing projects,doing more decentralized housing projects,

    • 22:11

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: which A, people tend to like more, and B,tend to be less of reservoirs for violence and crime.Policymaking inherently involves knowledge.You have to know something about what you're doing.

    • 22:33

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: And so in some cases you're dealingwith scientific knowledge.In a lot of scientific knowledge if you're dealing in NASA,if you're dealing in the departmentdefense, the National Oceanographic and AtmosphericAdministration, the good old Weather Bureau and so forth.These are scientists.And agriculture employs a lot of scientists

    • 22:56

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: who are making scientific knowledge-based decisions,or at least recommendations about policy.And social science does the same thing in Health and HumanServices and so forth.So there's a very large knowledge basethat governments draw upon when they're making policy.Now, once they've made policy and it's

    • 23:16

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: being implemented we have to evaluate it.We have to see if it worked.Did it produce the results that we in expected?If so at what cost?And then secondly, did it produceunintended consequences?So lots of programs may work but they will havehuge unintended consequences.

    • 23:37

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So you have to balance those out.Now evaluation is very difficult.But sometimes, for example, programshave so-called sleeper effects.That the effects may not appear for 20 or 30 years-- educationtypically.And we can measure if students learned anythingwhen they graduate high school or graduate the university.

    • 23:59

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: But the real effects of what we'vedone in the educational process won'taccrue to those students for 10, 20, 30 years.And some of it may be economic, some of it may be cultural.So trying to figure out what we're actually doingtakes a long time, and sometimes effects decay.For example, Head Start.

    • 24:20

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So we know that Head Start gets kidsfrom underprivileged backgrounds ready for school.So when they get to school, if they'vebeen through Head Start, they're as ready as middle classkids for the first grade.The problem is, those effects decay.And if they're not reinforced by the sixth grade,

    • 24:41

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: they're no better off than if they've never had Head Start.So you sometimes need to reinforce programs.Now, we have unfortunately in governments nowhave moved away from old-fashioned relativelycomprehensive evaluation to performance management

    • 25:03

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: that I mentioned earlier-- trying to measure thingsin the short-term.How well did we do these last six months, in partbecause, again, it's a business model.You measure profits every quarter.And so presumably then the public sectorcan measure profits, can measure success every quarter.

    • 25:23

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: But we're dealing with very different typesof programs, very different types of success.So we are not doing the in-depth evaluations to the extentthat we used to.The Environmental Protection Agency-- the Clean Air Act,

    • 25:46

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: for example, mandates that they regulatechemicals that are proven to be carcinogenic in the air.Now, if chemical X didn't exist previously,it wasn't regulated.But as soon as it's created and then it'sfound to be carcinogenic, then they'remandated to begin to regulate it.So increasingly, law coming out of Congress

    • 26:10

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: or other legislatures for that matter,is relatively broad enabling legislation,enabling the bureaucracy that implementedit to take changes that occur in the environment thatare relevant and essentially regulate and dealwith those changes.

    • 26:31

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So we think of law, of government law coming outof Congress.And it does.But most rules that govern us are actuallymade by the bureaucracy through so-called secondarylegislation.So in the United States the Administrative Procedures Actof 1946-- good bedtime reading if you have insomnia.

    • 26:57

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: But one of the most important actsthat the federal government's ever passed.It mandates how the bureaucracies makethat secondary legislation.And that process is actually open and democratic.So every time an agency wants to regulate,

    • 27:18

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: it has to issue a notice of intentto regulate in the federal register.And then citizens have a period of 90 or 180 days to comment.Now, you and I, most people, are notgoing to read the federal register every week.But you can be sure that businesses, interest groups,

    • 27:38

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: anybody who is affected by federal regulationsis reading it avidly every week, lookingfor things that affect them.Then they send in comments to the regulating agency-- thisis bad, this is good, this is how you should do it better.Then after that period of notice and comment,there's a second period in which they issue a draft regulation.

    • 28:01

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: And then there's another round of notice and comment.So the process is open.So this is to some extent the wayin which the regulations get refined,and in some cases blocked, but generally refined.So it is an ongoing process.But increasingly the laws that Congressand other legislative bodies write

    • 28:23

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: are in relatively broad grants of power to the executive,particularly to the bureaucracy.A great British philosopher of sciencesays nothing is so practical as a good theory.So anyway.But the notion here is that we have to have theory.

    • 28:43

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: I think again, people often tend to denigrate--oh it's ivory tower theory.It's not relevant.The theory is very relevant, because it essentiallytells you what to look for.It gives you a set of classifications.It tells you how to think about the process.So theory is crucial.Now, as for me personally, probably two people

    • 29:05

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: in particular, both of whom were fairly closely linkedin terms of their theoretical perspective.One was Herbert Simon, a Nobel laureate,used to teach at Carnegie Mellon.I lived about two blocks from himin Squirrel Hill for a while-- a great man.He came up with the foundations for whatwe call bounded rationality.

    • 29:27

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: Now, economics is based upon comprehensive rationality.That we are rational actors and we actto maximize our self-interest.Now, Simon says, no.You can't do it.That's too demanding, and particularly for administratorswho have to make decisions rather

    • 29:47

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: quickly in complex situations.So what do we do?We make decisions that are good enough for the time beingand then continue to work on them.The question we dealt with a moment ago-- how do youdeal with changes?So the notions of bounded rationalitythen are saying we're constantly having to deal with changes.

    • 30:08

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: And we deal with those changes in the boundsof our organizational membership,in the balance of time, in the balance of our professionalism.So we're capable of making decisionsthat are OK for the time being.And then we come back to them, constantly.Now, the second person-- and really two people,

    • 30:29

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: they did most of their work together,are James March from Stanford and a Norwegian, Johan P.Olsen, who come out of the same strand.But they've been particularly working on institutions.So I'm very interested in institutionsand institutional theory, and really arguingthat essentially that we understand government

    • 30:52

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: and to some extent the whole worldthrough organizations and institutions.And March and Olsen have done some of the fundamental workin institutional theory.And again, thinking of institutionsthen in more of a social way rather than merely aset of offices and blocks.So that institutions are sets of rules,myths, symbols, routines that guide the way

    • 31:15

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: in which we think, and guide the way we act.And we are trained to be members of those institutionswhen we walk through the door.So the university is an institution.And we learn how to be professorsand we learn how to be students as part of a socializationprocess.

    • 31:35

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So those would be the two that I would pickas the most influential for me.The answer is with great difficulty.In part, once you create an organizationthey tend to have a set of blinders.They have a law that they administer.

    • 31:58

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: And they're hard to terminate.Now we do terminate many more organizationsthan people think.There used to be this sort of sayingthat nothing is so permanent as a temporary governmentorganization.And there are some really good examples.There's apparently an organization in Italythat was set up to pay the widows of Garibaldi's campaign

    • 32:20

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: in the 1860s.There are no more widows but the organizationis still there still.It still has two employees.So that's the extreme.But it's hard, again, you have make commitmentsto the employees.You have made commitments to clients.And change is difficult. The same thing

    • 32:42

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: is true for business.I mean, again, we think somehow the public sector is worse.But you think about businesses that continuealong antiquated paths.Eastman Kodak-- digital cameras, just a fad.Nothing's going to happen.We're still going to make film.No.

    • 33:03

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So Eastman Kodak virtually is going belly upbecause they didn't adopt either.So lots of private sector firms, big ones, successful oneslike Kodak don't adapt either.So we have a tendency toward path dependency.Once we get going along a path, youneed a big, big intervention to be able to change it.

    • 33:26

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So to some extent it's human nature.We like a certain amount of stability.And likewise, again, you've got clients,you've got vested interests that are mobilized.So it's easier to mobilize an interest that already existsthan it is to create one for the some future good thing,because you don't know it.

    • 33:46

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So it's easier to maintain, for example, an industrial policy.It's easier to maintain old industriesthan to put money into new industries thatmay be the ways of the future.But that's risky.Now, pork is quite another issue.That's largely congressional much morethan it is bureaucratic.Those are congressman and senators, and again,

    • 34:08

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: legislators in other countries giving fundsto their constituents essentially, to put it bluntly,to buy votes.So if you build new roads, new post offices, new bridges etc,then you're a successful congressman because you'rebringing the pork back home.

    • 34:31

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: And every time you vote for a policy, particularlya controversial policy, you make enemies.Every time you bring the pork home, you only make friends.So it's a good strategy for elected officials.So don't blame the bureaucracy for that one.That's not them.Those are the elected officials.

    • 34:59

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So there are still people who reallydefend this managerialist position tooth and nail,whereas others like myself are a bit more skeptical of it.So even though I think most people say it's dead,it's alive and well and fighting back.So there's still that battle.One of the fundamental battles issort of the institutionalist versus more people who

    • 35:21

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: are more individualist.So how do you understand this government?How do you understand indeed the world?Do you understand it as a set of rational individuals tryingto maximize their self-interest?Or conversely, individuals who havecertain social and psychological characteristics?

    • 35:42

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: Or do you understand it through institutions and organizations?So the argument is a classic argumentin social science between agency and structure.That is, do you look at people, the agents whomake the decisions, or do you look at the structureswhere those decisions are made?And argue that essentially the structures channel

    • 36:03

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: information, channel power.So that, to a great extent, you can predict the decisionsthat individuals make based upon wherethey are in the structures.So this is a debate that's been going on for decades,if not centuries in the social sciences.And it's still there.Now, to some extent, it's here even more

    • 36:24

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: now because of issues of methodology.So as the public administration and political sciencehave gotten increasingly quantitativein their methodologies, it's nice to use agency-based modelsbecause you've got individuals, and you have a lot more data.

    • 36:44

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: Whereas structure is harder to measureand there are fewer of them.Then another one that's somewhat relatedis methodological purely between quantitative and qualitativemethodologies.And how much do we focus on the case studies for exampleas a qualitative methodology?Where you look at a single case, track through the decision,

    • 37:08

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: try to understand how that particular decision was made,versus trying to aggregate a lot of decisions quantitatively.And to some extent you can get better statistical results,but may lose some of the context,may lose some of the nuance that's involvedin the individual case studies.So again, we're fighting over theory

    • 37:29

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: and we're fighting over methodology.But that's what science is about,are these conflicts over trying to get it right.Yeah, well I think if you try to understand

    • 37:50

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: any part of social society, put particular publicadministration, politics and policyin a single case, a single country, you miss a lot.Because each country is, by definition, sui generis.It's a thing unto itself.So the poet Robert Browning said that he who knows England onlyknows England not at all.

    • 38:12

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So if we only know American government,we don't really understand governmentin a fundamental way.We don't understand why the United States is different.And it is very different.And so we need to then look at how other places do thingsto understand, essentially then, whatexplains why we make choices the way we do.

    • 38:32

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So to go back to the question a moment ago about pork barrelpolitics.Now, in part we have pork barrel politicsbecause we have single-member districts.And the individual pretty much runsas the individual congressman.Versus if you're in a system that'smore dominated by political parties,

    • 38:53

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: then the individual member of parliamentisn't nearly as important, doesn'thave that sort of direct connectionwith his or her voters.They're elected as a member of the party not as an individual.So that's going to shape the way in which they behavein parliament and the way in which how importantpork barrel politics may be.

    • 39:13

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So to me it's crucial to do things comparatively.To understand that the United Statesis just one example of a large, complex, wealthy, democraticsystem.But there are others out there and weneed to think about what we can learn from themand what we can teach them.I think too often we try to teach them and not to learn.

    • 39:34

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: But we need to understand essentiallyhow we are different and therefore, again,the opportunities for learning and for change.Well, one thing that I've been working on,which sort of fits both public administration and policy

    • 39:56

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: is a notion of governance.Now, the same root word of course is government.But governance is a broader term.We're talking really then about how do westeer economy and society.And again, policy is doing that in part.But looking at all of the mechanisms through which westeer economy in society.And trying to look at this very broadly,

    • 40:17

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: again, including non-governmental actors,including the social actors like the laborunions, interest groups, business groups, etc.So how do we essentially form hybrid forms of governanceto create effective steering and also effective democracy?

    • 40:37

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So I'm really interested in this much broader notionabout steering and control.And part of that-- I've had this interestsince my graduate student days in the use of informationand cybernetic models.In other words not models of governingbased upon information processing.

    • 40:57

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: So the thermostat on the wall over hereis the simplest cybernetic device.It notices changes in the temperatureand adjusts heating and cooling accordingly.Now, we can think about governmentsin somewhat the same way of monitoring their societies,looking at changes, and then trying to react creatively

    • 41:19

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: and promptly to changes in those societies.So I'm interesting in the information processingside of things and have written a couple of short paperson that.But I want to write some more.And then I want to continue on in the comparative workthat I've been doing.I've been working mostly in Western Europe and North

    • 41:41

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: America, but I'm increasingly I'mworking also in Latin America.So I'm trying to become even more comparative.I'm working on my Spanish and I'mtrying to be able to work more effectivelyin other parts of the world.Well probably the key challenge is that governments change,

    • 42:07

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: policy challenges change.So if we separate the two-- public administration,one major challenges it is facing practicallyis that too many of the people in governments,not just in the US but around the world are my age.They're ready for retirement.So we need to replace about a third

    • 42:28

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: of our government workforce relatively soon.And we need to be able to hire the best and the brightest.We need good people.Because governing isn't going to get any easier.It's going to get harder.We're facing a whole set of what were calledin the trade, wicked problems.Problems that are hard to define.They have no clear solution.

    • 42:49

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: They have any number of complex interrelationships.The classic example is climate change.But things like food.So if we're going to feed a growing population,we have to figure out ways of dealingwith food policy in new creative ways,particularly given climate change.When certain parts of the world that have been productive

    • 43:12

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: may well be less productive.And all these things are interrelated.So we're facing a whole set of extraordinarily complex policychallenges that are going to require really good people.And we have to get the best and brightest to work on them.Whether they work on them in government itself,in the think tanks, wherever, in the universities

    • 43:35

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: I hope of course also.But we have to be able to deal with those challenges in a verycreative way.And some of the questions have beenthings we've been talking about already.We're locked in our silos.We don't work very far across.So if we're going to deal with food policy,

    • 43:55

      B. GUY PETERS [continued]: we not only have to deal with agriculturebut we have to deal with health people.We have to deal with social service people.These policies are all interconnected.So we need to create more coherent, comprehensive stylesof governing.

B. Guy Peters Discusses Public Administration and Public Policy

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Abstract

Professor B. Guy Peters reflects on public administration as a profession. He analyzes its evolution and development throughout modern government.

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B. Guy Peters Discusses Public Administration and Public Policy

Professor B. Guy Peters reflects on public administration as a profession. He analyzes its evolution and development throughout modern government.

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