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The Value of the Dichotomy: Politics, Administration, and the Political Neutrality of Administrators

Patrick Overeem
Administrative Theory & Praxis
Vol. 27, No. 2 (Jun., 2005), pp. 311-329
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25610729
Page Count: 19
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The Value of the Dichotomy: Politics, Administration, and the Political Neutrality of Administrators
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Abstract

Post-war students of public administration have widely rejected the politics-administration dichotomy, but, paradoxically, they have, as a rule, not abandoned the historically and conceptually closely related value of political neutrality of administrators. Rather, they reconceptualized the classical politics-administration dichotomy as a policy-administration dichotomy. This blurring of "politics" and "policy" has eclipsed the dichotomy's close relationship with political neutrality, as both notions call for the exclusion of administrators from "partisan politics" rather than from "policy politics." The argument that the politics-administration dichotomy is "false" because of administration's deep involvement in policy-making is a non sequitur, however. The value of political neutrality can help to recover the meaning and sense of the politics-administration dichotomy. Acceptance of the former should be complemented by a rehabilitation of the latter.

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