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What is the Difference Between Public Management and Public Administration?

As you explore the field of public administration,you may find the terms, public management and public administrationused interchangeably. Nevertheless, are these terms interchangeable? If not, then what is the difference between public management and public administration?Is there enough difference to make it a consideration in choosing your field of study in preparation forpublic administration jobs?On the other hand, is the new and different public management label an attempt to give administration more relevance in today’s society?

A masters in public administration is obviously a field of study. Public works administration is also defined as both a field of study and profession. According to some definitions, public management looks closely at the implementation of policies, procedures, and actions of administration in light of management in private and non-profit sectors. Public works administration traditionally has been connected to government offices or public service.

Administration is most often concerned with determining goals, objectives, and purpose while management functions to achieve the goals set by the administration. In an effort to overhaul government administration there have been efforts to blend these two aspects supporting the use of both administration and management interchangeably. This new administration explains the conflict or confusion sometimes experienced in clearly defining public works administrationtoday. Public administration jobs may include aspects of both administration and management. The flexibility of study involved Masters in Public Administrationgives you the background, knowledge, and versatility to handle this challenging field. While this diversity within studies for masters in public administration make it difficult to differentiate between administration and management, it also embraces techniques, theories, and planning from private management that places an emphasis on relationships between organizations, as well as relationships among those assigned the task of meeting the goals and objectives of various public service programs. Is this new public management or simply an evolution in growth necessary to adapt new technology and techniques to accomplish goals set by administration? The answer may depend on the organization in which you are involved.

A closer look at administration and management reveals various degrees of difference:

  • Administration: Determines policy, procedures, goals and objectives
  • Management: Carries follows or carries out the policy, procedures, goals, and objectives set by administration.
  • Administration: Is usually a top-level authority
  • Management: Is usually a middle-level authority
  • Administration: Has long been connected with government office, military organization, or educational organization.
  • Management: Has long been connected with business enterprises in the private or non-profit sectors.
  • Administration: Has been traditionally seen as making decisions based on politics, public opinion, or government policies
  • Management: Has been traditionally seen as making decisions based on personal values, opinions of managers, or the value to the bottom line profits.
  • Administration: Handles the business of the organization.
  • Management: Handles the relationships among employees.

No doubt, administration and management will be used interchangeably in some situations. For individuals currently exploring or having already obtained a Masters in Public Administration, there will continue to be evolving definitions as more public administration jobs join forces with non-profit and private enterprise to meet their goals and objective efficiently. You may even find yourself in a unique position to shape those definitions for local community, state, or national organizations. Any public service venture does require components of both administration and management to accomplish their mission. Public service organizations and non-profit groups as well as private businesses will continue to join forces. The most important point to remember is to not get so concerned over agreeing on an exact definition that you lose track of the goals the platform that public service has to offer that can make a real difference in your communities.