The Politics-Administration Dichotomy: Toward a Constitutional Perspective, Second Edition, 2nd Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Politics-Administration Dichotomy

Toward a Constitutional Perspective, Second Edition, 2nd Edition

By Patrick Overeem


242 pages

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Hardback: 9781439895894
pub: 2012-04-03
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The politics-administration dichotomy is much mentioned and often criticized in the Public Administration literature. The Politics-Administration Dichotomy: Toward a Constitutional Perspective, Second Edition offers a book-length treatment of this classical notion. While public administration academics typically reject it as an outdated and even dangerous idea, it re-emerges implicitly in their analyses. This book tells the story of how this has happened and suggests a way to get out of the quandary. It analyzes the dichotomy position in terms of content, purpose, and relevance.

What’s in the Second Edition

  • Extensive study of the politics-administration dichotomy as a classic idea in Public Administration
  • A much-overlooked constitutionalist line of argument in defense of this widely discredited notion
  • Exploration and further development of the intellectual legacy of Dwight Waldo
  • Coverage of the dichotomy’s conceptual origins in 18th and 19th century Continental-European thought
  • An assessment of main criticisms against and alternatives for the dichotomy presented in the literature
  • Contributions to the newly emerging Constitutional School in the study of public administration
  • An argument against the institutional separation of Political Science and Public Administration in academia

Completely revised and updated, the book examines the idea that politics and public administration should be separated in our theories and practices of government. A combination of history of ideas and theoretical analysis, it reconstructs the dichotomy’s conceptual origins and classical understandings and gives an assessment of the main criticisms raised against it and the chief alternatives suggested for it. Arguing that one-sided interpretations have led to the dichotomy’s widespread but wrongful dismissal, the study shows how it can be recovered as a meaningful idea when understood as a constitutional principle. This study helps readers make sense of highly confused debates and challenge the issues with an original and provocative stance.

Table of Contents

A Quandary

The Standard Account

Waldo's Challenge

Aims and Central Question

Scope of the Inquiry

Approach and Plan of the Study

Conceptual Origins

Beyond Woodrow Wilson'

Traditional Political Thought

The Separation-of-Powers Doctrine

Montesquieu or Hegel

The French Approach

The German Approach

At Crossroads

Classical Formulations

Revising Revisionism

Wilson: 'Administrative Questions Are Not Political Questions'

Goodnow: Two Primary Functions of Government

Weber: Different Orders of Life

Separation and Subordination

Classics Contra Constitutionalism

Heterodox Criticisms

A Tenet of Orthodoxy?

From 'Politics' To 'Policy'

A Seriously Erroneous Description of Reality'

A Deficient, Even Pernicious, Prescription For Action'

A Note on Discretion

Heterodoxy as a Radical Rupture

Viable Substitutes?

The Quest For 'The Formula'




Unifying Concepts

Towards A Renewed Understanding

Appendix: Typologies of Political-Administrative Relations

A Constitutional Principle

Mistaken Identity

The Constitutional School

The Dichotomy as Constitutional Principle

Counterfactual Reasoning

Constitutional Functioning In Practice

The Dichotomy and the Separation-of-Powers Doctrine

Coming Full Circle

The Meaningful Dichotomy

The 'Perdurability' of the Dichotomy

Content: A Layered Construct

Purpose: Political, Administrative, and Constitutional

Relevance: Escaping From the Quandary

'A Commonsense Usefulness'

Epilogue: the Study of Administration and Politics

About the Author/Editor

Patrick Overeem is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Public Administration of Leiden University, the Netherlands.

About the Series

Public Administration and Public Policy

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