Authors: Bobbio, Matteucci, Pasquino
Summary: The entry, with about 6,000 words, defines public administration at first in a general way, then it analyzes the particular forms of administration that developed historically. Public administration is defined as a set of activities concerning state collectivity that share two basic features: firstly they are dependent or subordinated activities, and, secondly, they are mere executive tasks.
At the same time, the entry notices how public administration evolution is closely linked to state and government forms, since the former is a manifestation of the particular configurations and equilibria of the latter. It is thus argued, that between the political and the governing function, on one side, and the administrative function, on the other, a relationship of reciprocal complementarity exists, notion that is object of a longstanding debate. Accordingly, the entry highlights how administration types vary according to three major systemic features: 1) type of political or governing institutions (institutional element); 2) relationship between the former and public administration (organizational element); 3) the ends accepted as tasks or goals of public interest (functional element). The historical development that marks the evolution of the various types of public administration could be so summarized. Firstly, in absolute and monocratic governments the institutional element prevailed on the organizational and functional ones. Then, with the firm-like model of the administration, it is the organizational element that prevails, requiring greater management responsibilities for the administration. In time, this kind of organization will be progressively replaced by administrative forms modelled on the economic and private entreprenurial world. At the basis of this process lies a radical change in the way to conceive administrative action, i.e. procedural semplification and readiness are now emphazised.