The Politics-Administration Dichotomy: Toward a Constitutional Perspective, Second Edition

Free Standard Shipping

Purchasing Options

ISBN 9781439895894
Cat# K14257



SAVE 20%

eBook (VitalSource)
ISBN 9781439895900
Cat# KE15394



SAVE 30%

eBook Rentals

Other eBook Options:


  • Offers a comprehensive study of the politics-administration dichotomy as a classic idea in the study of public administration
  • Argues against the institutional separation between political science and public administration in academia
  • Explores the intellectual legacy of Dwight Waldo
  • Presents insight for those following the Constitutional School in public administration


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 While public administration academics typically reject it as an outdated and even dangerous idea, it re-emerges implicitly in their analyses.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

Author Bio(s)