Public Administration is a continuous process and, in the sense, it is always an undergoing reform. So, in public administration, ‘reform is a journey rather than a destination’. Reforms are an obvious response to the new challenges confronting state institutions managing public affairs. At the root of such an exercise lies the effort at enhancing administrative capability in the changed scenario. The problem of administrative reform has received continuing attention in India, both at the centre and in the states.
Since Independence, there have been a large number of changes in the structure, work methods, and procedures of the administrative organisations. Although these changes have been gradual, at times not too perceptible, they do indicate the efforts made by the government to affect procedural and policy innovation in the administrative system and to keep pace with the changed situations, growing needs, and exigencies of the government. With this background, the present chapter makes an attempt to understand the concept of administrative reform, to analyze the initiatives of reforms after Independence, and understand the changing patterns of administrative reforms in India in the post – liberalization era.
Theoretical Underpinning Of Administrative Reforms
Public administration as an academic discipline was born with a bias toward change and reform. The term ‘reform’ literally means forming again. The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘reform’ as ‘to convert into another and better form, to amend or improve by some change of form, arrangement or composition; to free from previous faults or imperfection.’ Following this definition, ‘administrative reform’ is to convert public administration into a better, improved form.
As An Academic Discipline
The Public Management and Administration field, in essence, is broad, necessitating a
specific study of theoretical frameworks. A review of conceptual literature and
contemporary case studies material on structural transformation and policy reform was
conducted to enlighten the research question and the statement of research. The existing
knowledge was highlighted in terms of its relevancy to this research, thus enabling the
incorporation of valid citation on previous experiences with civil service reform.
Conceptual definitions by proponents usually do not provide generic approaches on
administrative reform process, hence, the need for a focussed review of literature.
The objective is to consult the theoretical material relevant to public service reform.
For any research, it is important to establish a relationship between theoretical and
research perspectives (Procter, 2002) and identify gaps in the literature (Johnson, J.
1991). Varying views of different schools of thought cited must be contrasted so that
what has happened over time helps to show how others handled similar problems in the
past (Gerstenfeld, 2004). Philosophical or metaphysical nature of the phenomena being
investigated, whether observable or unobservable, has to be proved early before the
scientific knowledge of the object that is theory informed and the paradigms position
used in the research is established, appropriately in the concept definition section.
Research in the Public Administration field must not overlook or underlook the societal
imperatives – dynamics, which are underpinning public service reform. Political, social
and economic imperatives of a given society determine the type of public administration adopted for a particular developmental state. Each societal imperative would obviously contribute differently to the internal environment. This pattern is not common in every country as developed and developing societies likewise experience their unique situation where peace and stability enhance the conditions for reform.