n Journal of Public Administration - Public Administration theory : justification for conceptualisation

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Public Administration has reluctantly been accepted as a science by some of its sister disciplines in the Social Sciences. This may be ascribed to the eclectic nature of the Discipline and its reliance on related disciplines to explain, direct and inform study and practice. Public Administration studies human beings engaged in administrative and managerial duties in organs of state. Therefore, any study should consider the behaviour and actions of human beings in an organisational setting operating in a political environment.

Sciences depend on theory to investigate, explain and predict the phenomena being studied. A science has to be founded on justifiable laws or acceptable theories to develop new knowledge and influence practice. Public Administration is in the unenviable position that it studies social phenomena subjected to continuous change due to societal values and political changes. Thus it has to be able to adopt theories providing for universal truths, but accommodating the new domain of study, the development of public-private-partnerships and the evolution of the developmental state.
Various theories related to Public Administration will be investigated in this article to establish their relevance. This will be used as a foundation to enter into a discourse regarding the identification of the requirements against which Public Administration theory should be tested. With this as a point of departure the possible development of Public Administration related theories will be discussed.

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