Early Author Literature Review

Date: Apr 19, 2019
Category: Review Category

The 1930s to 1950s were characterized by numerous political changes in the US and around the world, but there was the Great Depression in 1930s. During this period, there was an economic slump in Europe, North America and in many other countries. The depression began in the US, but it spread quickly to the rest of the world (Young & Young, 2007). 1939 marked the end of the depression. However, it was a beginning of a wider problem 'the Second World War (1939-1945)'. It was Germany that started the war when it invaded Poland which culminated in subsequent war declarations on Germany by the United Kingdom and France. It ended after an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and Japan surrendered formally. Slightly before the end of the war, President Franklin Roosevelt died. His death was followed by a season of feared expansion of communism in America. Termination of the War gave way to the postwar economic expansion (Golden Age of Capitalism) (Young & Young, 2007). The boom lasted until the early 1970s. Many authors have diverse views on the political climate of the 1930s to 1950s. Different authors focus on administration and have various perspectives of how it should be undertaken, about decision-making and administrative behavior. This book review essay gives an analysis of three authors: Herbert Simon, Chester Barnard and Charles Lindboolm. Each has advocated for different views on public administration.

❑ Herbert A. Simon

Simon’s main interest is decision-making in administrative organizations. He used the idea of man’s bounded rationality as the basis of his argument. Herbert argued that you can never get the best possible solution because the amount of available information is always immense and inexhaustible. For this reason, the ‘best way’ is not practically possible, although it is theoretically true. Subsequently, managers will work with the first applicable solution deemed ‘good enough.’ In addition to this, Simon is of the opinion that the overall efficiency of decision-making is the guiding criterion in administrative organizations. Consequently, to improve efficiency, and then the organization can utilize scientific methods. He also describes the limits of rationality in decision-making. Moreover, Simon argues that authority is a key in an organization and that conflicts between subordinates and superiors should be avoided by all means.

❑ Chester Barnard

Barnard’s main focus was on the functions of the executive, authority, and incentives. On authority, he argued that communication channels should be definite, and everyone should know them. The lines of communication must also be short, direct and should not be interrupted in the operations of the organization. Barnard is of the opinion that incentives should take the form of money, desirable working conditions, personal opportunities for distinctions and ideal benefactions (cited in Gabor & Mahoney, 2010). The persons acting as communication centers must be adequate to ensure effective communication, and it must be authenticated.

❑ Charles Lindbloom

Lindbloom advocates for incrementalism in decision making. He argues that change of policies is more of a revolutionary process rather than evolutionary. This was from his welfare studies on policies and trade unions in the industrialized world. Lindbloom also uses the ‘muddling through’ principle to explain his views on decision-making (Lindblom, 1993). His view of public administration was that polyarchy was an essential aspect of governance, and he supported it quite well. According to him, there should not be a single elite government control in the society. Rather, they should be a series of elites specialized to compete and bargain for control among one another (Lindblom, 1993). This competition will bring about free market democracy and facilitate its existence. Lindbloom later discovered that polyarchy was not fully effective regarding democracy in governance. Some groups of the elite turned polyarchy into corporatism by colluding with one another, instead of competing among themselves. He also introduced the concept of ‘controlled volitions’ or ‘circularity’. This meant that masses should be persuaded to enquire from the elites only what they were willing to give them, even in democratic governance.


In conclusion, every individual is entitled to their opinion. These authors gave different opinions on administration, either in an organization or to the public. However, all advocate for effective administrative behavior and appropriate decision-making in governance. In the modern world, democracy is a key in administration. For this reason, every organization, whether public or non-public, needs to lay down strategies to ensure that its administration is efficient, democratic and makes the right decisions on issues regarding the organization.

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