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Dichotomy and Duality: Reconceptualizing the Relationship between Policy and Administration in Council-Manager Cities

James H. Svara
Public Administration Review
Vol. 45, No. 1 (Jan. - Feb., 1985), pp. 221-232
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Society for Public Administration
DOI: 10.2307/3110151
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3110151
Page Count: 12
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Dichotomy and Duality: Reconceptualizing the Relationship between Policy and Administration in Council-Manager Cities
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Abstract

Understanding the relations between elected and administrative officials in council-manager cities is hampered by inadequate models for assigning responsibility for governmental functions. Practitioners tend to view their roles in terms of the traditional model based on dichotomy of policy and administration and, though aware of exceptions, are uncomfortable with them. Scholars, on the other hand, having rejected this model, see extensive overlap and have difficulty recognizing limits of the policy-making role of the manager. This paper draws on field observations in the five cities in North Carolina with populations of more than 100,000 and a review of the literature to consider a number of "existing" models of the policy-administration relationship and to propose a new formulation that is empirically sound and responsive to practitioners' concern for normative guides to behavior. The proposed model is based on a separation of responsibility for the definition of mission by elected officials and the management of programs by administrative staff. Policy and administration-which fall between mission and management-are viewed as the shared responsibility of elected officials and staff, with each having a legitimate role in both functions. Implications of the model for administrative ethics, council roles, and future research are explored.

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