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Statement of Purpose

Past and recent surveys and studies have revealed organizational structure as among the critical dimensions of public administration. Consequently organizational structure within any public administration is of great importance to the overall performance of the administration; its effectiveness and efficiency in handling all issues regarding the set administrative goals. Organizational structure within the public administration is on its own, a large area, but this critique will largely focus on the aspects considered pertinent to the subject. The critique will focus on organizational structure within the public administration, with more emphasis on governmental administrations, outlining the existing structures' role and influence on these administrations.


The field of public administration is multidisciplinary and as a result it cannot be described in simple definitions. Rather than defining public administration, its broad sense requires a form of explanation entailing the connection of its core disciplines and aspects. Public administration forms the housing for the frameworks and implementation of government policies and involved programs, in addition to their organization and management. Public administration focuses on advancing policies and their management with the aim of ensuring their respective governments functions well. Most people view Public administration in its largely known and accepted application by the civil service branch of governments. Public administration is also a key feature in non governmental organizations. These organizations also use it in management of their programs, policies and plans to ensure they progress according to the set and agreed upon goals of the organizations. Of key note however, is the scale at which public administration is applied in the operations of the two; governmental and non governmental organizations (Denhardt & Denhardt, 2008). Government public administrations by their nature are always large and involve a wider variety of different disciplines and branches of knowledge.

It is a field of practice with a wide range of professionals and an academic discipline involving diverse academic fields and concepts. As an integral component in the functioning of the government, this field requires the involvement of a wide range of professionals from many fields (Riggs, 2000; Denhardt, Theories of Public Organization, 2010). The subfields within the field include organizational theory, human resources, budgeting, ethics, and policy analysis. Scholars within the field come from diverse ranges of disciplines including political science, economics, statistics, psychology, sociology, administrative law, organizational theory and diplomacy (Peters, 2007). Being such a wide and broad area, public administration requires such diverse disciplines to fully function. They all work in an interrelated manner with the nature of much of the work requiring sharing of information between the departments or subfields. Much has evolved within the field with some of the disciplines such as ethics, being recognized after the middle of the 20th century. Trends within the public administration have showed profound changes since its initial recognition in the late 19th century, through the 20th and into the 21st century. Factors contributing to these changes include globalization, redefinition of governments together with changes in the economies and advances in technology (Denhardt & Denhardt, 2008).

Many studies and surveys have been conducted in the past to critically analyze this wide and multifaceted field. Its broad nature has attracted studies with the aim of revealing all its varied subfields and disciplines critical for its effective operation in addition to their significance within public administration. With time the field has grown in strength and capacity within governments and their organizations, and in the private sectors together with non governmental organizations. Over time, even disciplines considered remotely connected to it such as ethics, leadership and organizational studies have come to be incorporated as vital sections within this large field. Surveys conducted have indicated the vital functioning of each segment of the whole field, with any effect on one department inadvertently impacting on other departments; this may be positively or negatively depending on the overall results on organizational goals. Some of the departments or sections of the wide field carry more weight and have been found to be more significant in terms of the impact they have within public administration in comparison to other such as the finance department (Denhardt, 2010). Of key note is that all studies and surveys conducted on public administration have found it to be of such immense diversity and virtually inexhaustible with its changing form from time to time and from organization to organization; albeit with basic fundamental attributes. Organizational structures within the public administration systems are of profound significance for their entire performance; this critique analyses this essential department and its significance to public administration.


Having its focus on the organizational structures and the role they play within public administration, and their subsequent influence, the critique would narrow the wider spectrum of the field. Organizational structures exist in all organizations and groups with diverse variations. Public administrations have owed much of their success to the existing organizational structures and the paper would focus in large in how they impact on the public administration and two of the problems that challenge administrations as influenced by the structures.


The methodology for this research critique consisted of literature reviewing of material relevant to the study from the year 2000 to 2010. These included articles and books written by those who are well versed in the particular field. Their analysis provided a great support for the critique.

It was however noted the diverse nature of this field, necessitating the review of other areas indirectly related to the subject matter. The research was narrowed down to organizational structure within public administration.

Description of Organizational Structure

Organizational structure and application within Public Administration

The organizational theory is concerned with the establishment of formal structures within the public administration systems, defining the various disciplines implemented within the whole structure and their roles. It deals with the internal working relations between the various departments and subsequently outlines their position within the organization, in addition to their relationship with external environments. In setting up internal environments for interdisciplinary relationships within the public administration, it further prescribes how the civil servants or the workers of a given company ought to organize themselves, consequently outlining organizational behavior (Milakovich & Gordon, 2008). Organization theory is the basis on which organizational structures within the public administration are founded, with elements of the theory identified in the structuring of both government and non governmental organizations.  According to Milakovich and Gordon, these elements include Hierarchy, "division of labor and functional specialization", designing of "formal frameworks of rules and procedures", the maintenance and upholding of "files and other records", and professionalism (Milakovich & Gordon, 2008).

The concern of organizational theory in public administration is to create an efficient and reliable structure for the running of the organization. This effectual organizational structure is to be run on projected budgets that reflect the least possible amounts of financial resources for its successful operations. The organizational structures of both governmental and non governmental bodies are also designed to ensure little time is taken in dealing with their responsibilities and in resolving any emerging issues. Organizational structures define the allocation of tasks to various departments, their coordination and subsequent supervision in relation to the goals targeted by the government (Denhardt, 2010).

Organizational structures within the public administration systems are created based on the involved divisions, their interrelationships and designated authorities (Peters, 2007). Hierarchies within the administration systems are drawn form the organizational structure as deemed appropriate to the administration in place. The levels of management along the established hierarchy depend on a number of factors including the scale of operation of the organization and the resources available to it. Organizational structures establish highly centralized leaderships within the administrations, with the various division heads forming the top management level, within each division (Milakovich & Gordon, 2008). These are in turn placed under one overall head; the head of public administration. Within the government administration the different branches of the administration are viewed as distinct teams in terms of their separate structures within the entire administration system. They form a network structure in terms of their interrelated functioning inside the multidisciplinary field. The primary aim of all designed and established working relationships, is to make the entire system work effectively and efficiently through harmonizing all activities undertaken by each distinct division of the administration (Denhardt, 2010).

The organizational charts are reflections of the prevailing organizational structure and they clearly outline obligations and responsibilities with the respective parties responsible fort he duties. From the organizational charts of the public administration the chains of commands are spelled out within the departments and outside their boundaries. The chart also define the influence of separate subdivisions in addition to indicating on "who reports to whom" in all issues pertaining to the administration (Geuras & Garofalo, 2011). All these are derived from the organizational structure which show the span of control that each department or division has on the direction to be taken by the administration in achieving its goals.

Impact on Public administration

Organizational structure significantly impact on all aspects of the public administration including decision making, leadership and governance and communication. Organizational culture portrayed by administrations result from both formal and informal organizational structure which also consequently plays the huge role of influencing both individual and group behavior of its members.  Organizational structures greatly impact on all activities within the public administration (Geuras & Garofalo, 2011). They provide the basis on which the "standard operating procedures" within these administrations are set, together with routine operations within the government bureaucracy. The decision making models within designed by the administrations define the concerned departments in specific issues to be decided on; and only the significant divisions and branches will be required for the decision to be made. This reduces the time that may be wasted in involving groups unconcerned with the emerging issues and which would not be adversely affected by the decisions (Geuras & Garofalo, 2011).

All divisions included for prior discussions also have different significance on the issue, with the variation of illustrated by the amount of input expected from each department. Such discussions may continue without the active participation of the least significant group or even in their complete absence, but with their due notification of all progresses made prior to making of the decision. This may be illustrated by the fiscal policies to be made regarding vital environmental pollution taxes. It would be imperative that the environmental departments be represented at the meeting, particularly by the head of their departments, as the issue would be central to their operations. On the other hand, other departments such as human resource and procurement would be considered irrelevant in the decision making process of this particular case (Milakovich & Gordon, 2008). In outlining the decision making process, the organizational structure plays a vital role of determining the specific direction the administration takes towards achieving its goals, ensuring it they are achieved on time in spite of the many emerging challenges the organization will meet on its way. The models greatly eliminate the potential contribution of lower staff members and workers in the lower levels of management (Riggs, 2000).

Another important aspect how of organizational structures impact on these administrations, relates to participation of parties on the decision making processes. Organizational structures determine the individuals to participate in specific decision making processes and establish their influence on the overall decisions to be made by the administration. By this impact, the structure determines the extent to which various individuals and workers within the administration can affect the direction it takes by influencing its actions. External environments to the structures are usually give audience in relation to their stake on any given issue. Government administrations involve public participation where communities are classified as stake holders within the decision making processes. This can be illustrated by the involvement of communities in the making of crucial decision regarding environmental issues by Environmental Protection Agency. Public participation in these cases play a great role in determining the direction the decisions made by the agency will take. Where communities feel they would be adversely affected by a given decision, it would certainly be rescinded by the agency in conjunction with other parties in their favor.  There exist forums designed for public participation and other external parties such as competitors, partners and foreign diplomats, in all organizations.


Organizational structures are important to all public administrations to ensure they work appropriately; this regards the formal structures. Organizations also do have informal organizational structures which do impact significantly on the administration as well. Just as the formal structures have influence over the communication decision making processes and other vital features and aspects of public administration, informal structures also play affect the overall performance of the administration. Taken together, informal and formal structures within the organization would have significant impact on the administration, especially due to influence on "individual and group behavior" (Geuras & Garofalo, 2011). The problem with organizational structure would largely settle with the ambiguities, which tend to exist with time within public administrations - particularly governmental administrations, between the formal and informal structures. Informal structures are at times accepted as part of the administration's organizational behavior as are, all organizational structures, ultimately impact on its culture.

Another problem associated with the organizational structures is deeply related with the leadership and ethical behavior. Organizational structures do not adequately and out rightly define ethical behavior in relation to established organizational culture and the public administrators. This is illustrated when public administrators have to face, the inevitable and never ending ethical conflicts that arise in due course, with morals and values characterized by the prevailing organizational cultures (Peters, 2007). Ethical values from these cultures may be superficial and greatly fragmented as organizational structures are limited in defining such within the administrations. Being derived by greater extent from the organizational structures, the cultures tend to lack adequate ethical basis for the public administrators in tackling emerging ethical and moral dilemmas. As such according to Geuras & Garofalo (2011), organizational structures can either "protect and promote ethical values", or on the other hand, "disable them through intentional or unintentional means." These problems are exercabated by the absence of ethics divisions, and or the gaps that may exist between the division and other divisions within the administartion.


Organizational structures are essential and compulsory to the functioning of public administrations. Their application is crucial to the successes of the public administration as all studies and surveys have indicated. These studies have also indicated the immense influence they have on the overall functioning of each division within these administration systems and how they are to interrelate with each other. Of great note by conducted studies, is the wide ranging branches of knowledge and studies involved in the field of public administration, further necessitating the application of organizational structures.

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