Development Administration

Development administration is defined as the aspect of public administration in which the focus of attention is on organizing and administering public agencies in such a way as to stimulate and facilitate defined programmes for social and economic development or progress.

It is also a process of guiding organizations towards the attainment of development objectives (Weiden, 1994). From this definition, the understanding is that development administration is action oriented and it places administration at the centre of development objectives.

It also involves developing the administrative capacity to obtain desired results and to improve the structure of public administration in order to bring about development (Okoli and Onah, 2002).

In other words, development administration deals with reforms or innovation for capacity building of the existing bureaucracy, equipping it with necessary tools and techniques for introducing and administering policies, programs and projects to serve developmental purposes.

Origin of Development Administration

Several factor after the Second World War has led to it’s emergence.

  • The activities of the comparative public administration group: the emergence of development administration is largely incidental to the circumstances surrounding the activities of comparative public administration group in 1950s and 1960s.

This is understandable as the major emphasis of comparative public administration is on theory building and development administration. Researches undertaken in comparative public administration were essentially intended to serve mainly development purposes.

  • American effort to enhance her expansionist interest: historically development administration appears to be a product of conscious effort of the American government in the aftermath of the Second World War to enhance further American expansionism (Nobert, 2010).

This effort was essentially directed to the third world countries where large sum of money were to be channeled via the American National Budget to aid development and more importantly, to influence the ideological orientations of those nascent states. The end of second world war saw the emergence of the bipolar world order of capitalism and socialism led by America (for the western bloc) and soviet union (for the Eastern bloc) respectively.

America was quick to adopt a foreign policy stance of checkmating socialist expansion by giving technical aids to revamp the economy of the emerging new states and through the building of their administrative system to be able to administer development effectively and rapidly.

It is no wonder, therefore according to Nobert (2010) that development administration as a field of study and practice gained popularity in the wake of the cold war as Marxism and socialism made a strong appeal to many ex-colonies fighting for liberation and independence.

  • The developed world effort to realize/enhance their collective self interest: the developed world realized that developing the third world nations is in their own interest. Nobert (2010) notes this in his observation:

The developed nations realized that a sustained programme of development in the Third World is not only a moral case to raise living standard in the third world but also a practical case which would be in the self interest of the developed countries themselves. The ability of the poor countries to sustain their growth and development means a greater demand for the goods and services of developed countries which generates outputs and employment directly and which also helps to maintain the balance of payment ability of these countries. This is crucial if there is to be a reciprocal demand for the goods of developing countries.

In essence, the development of development administration arose as a result of the need to evolve and influence policies that would aid in the transformation of the administrative capabilities and socio-economic positions of the third world nations of Africa, Asia and Latin.

In line with this Okoli and Onah (2000) argue that the concept of development administration was used to differentiate the administrative system needed for developing countries and the traditional administrative system.

While the focus of traditional public administration is on establishment of basic infrastructural service, development administration is concerned with institution building and achievement of change in these developing nations.

The Basic Aspect of Development Administration

There are two basic aspect of development administration: the development of administration and administration of development.

  • Development of Administration: this refers to the nature of administrative capacities for development and the methods of enhancing these administrative capacities. It means improving administrative capabilities and strengthening the principles of administration in order to achieve the overall administrative goals.

In essence development of administration deals with the nature of governmental administration capacity which is necessary for assisting in the formulation of development policies and for carrying out these development plans, programmes or projects.

Administrative capacity itself may refer to the management capacity of government or the public sector as a whole to formulate development policies and to carry them out or to properly and effectively implement them. An organization is said to have an administrative capabilities for development if it as the ability to achieve declared developmental objectives.

  • Administration of Development: this refers to the implementation of development policies, programmes or projects. These projects or programs, could be in the areas of health, education, transportation, agriculture, security, housing, rural development and basic infrastructural development.

In this case, administration of development refers to public administration as an instrument for administering development or carrying out development plans in the various aspects of public life. Usually, the task for realizing development goals rests with government.

It is the job of government to make projections, decide on policies and implement policies. This is very necessary because development is integral to the aims and activities of the government especially in the developing countries where the private sector is not highly developed and where the state looms largely in the steering of development and growth generally.

In order to understand the relationship between these two aspects of development administration; development of administration and administration of development, we note that following the paucity of human and material resources in developing nations, the need for making optimal utilization of available means and augmenting new means assume a great importance.

One of the key factors in the effort by government to administer development is to enhance its administrative capacity for development. Once this is done, government can now develop and formulate policies, set development goals and be able to realize the set goals objectives.

Strategies to Enhance Development Administration in developing Nations

  • Government of the developing nations will have to introduce more public sector reforms to make the public bureaucracies more accountable, responsive, transparent and development oriented.
  • Laws, rules and regulations that would reduce bribery and corruption need to be enacted and very importantly, mechanism introduced to ensure their strict enforcement. This is necessary to forestall the misappropriation of funds allocated for administering development project or programmes.
  • There is the need to ensure the existence of a strong, responsible and purposeful leadership to steer effectively and in a focused manner the affairs of the developing nations. The democratization process in the developing nations may be of help in this direction as responsible leadership may be elected through fair and free elections in democratic settings.
  • There is the need for the government to embark on programme of motivation of staff particularly through improved remuneration like salary and other incentives. This will help to rebuild moral, integrity and commitment to public service among the public servants.
  • There is the need to put in place measures that will ensure a greater realization of politics – administration dichotomy. This will enable the bureaucratic in authority to exercise real control and administer development programmes professionally.
  • The administrative atmosphere needs to be innovative. The authority or management of public bureaucracies in developing nations needs to allow for innovation and change that could facilitate group effort and initiative. After all, innovative ideas could come from any level of the organization hierarchy. This could be ensured by decentralization and proper delegation of authority.
  • There is the need for shared operational planning goals. To enhance development administration, there is need for operational – shared planning goals as one person cannot effectively and reasonably conduct the affairs of an organization. in this case, the adoption of management by objective (MBO) in executing government development projects or programmed is advocated.
  • There is need for administrators to be extra sensitive. In this case, development administrators have to understand and respond to the need for change and redirection of projects, policies or programmes for the general good of the people. The interdependence and coordination of the functions of different units of an organization and among organizations should be ensured in order to achieve the collective need or goal of the society.
  • Bureau pathology needs to be avoided. Even though ideal bureaucratic model encourages adherence to rules and regulations, this should not be seen as a end in itself. Rather, it should be seen as a means to an end. Therefore, dreadlocks that often occur in administrative process which can often result to red-tapism and slowing down of development process should be avoided.
  • Staff training and development should be taken serious as it helps to improve their skills and knowledge on current administrative techniques and activities and also on the use of modern office technologies. This is necessary because for effective administration of development, there is the need to modernize their administrative tools, organizational techniques, patterns of planning and adapting to the requirements of the development needs.


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