Comparative public administration is defined as the study of administrative systems in a comparative fashion or the study of public administration in other countries. Another definition for “comparative public administration” is the “quest for patterns and regularities in administrative action and behavior”. The Comparative Administration group has defined CPA as, “the of publicadministration applied to diverse cultures and national setting and the body of factual data, by which it can be examined and tested.”
Comparative Public Administration (CPA) is an applied, intercultural, interdisciplinary, explanatory field of study which carries out cross-cultural investigations in order to provide solutions for management problems sooner and develop management technologies further.
APPROACHES TO THE STUDY OF COMPARATIVE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION:
1) Ideal or Bureaucratic Approach: Bureaucratic specifications are studied for reaching conclusions and developing understanding. Under this approach structures of organisations are analysed in terms of their horizontal differentiation, vertical differentiation,span of control, etc. Procedures and rules are analysed and the framework of functioning is determined. Job specifications and descriptions at various nodes are analysed and some understanding is reached on the basis of elaborateness and degree of specialisation compared in regards to different administrative systems.
The limitations of this approach is that though it has been considered simple but it does not explain the structures and their functions in society and gives a very general observation.
2) Structural – Functional Approach : It is considered as a very popular approach for comparing various administrative systems and was implemented by Fred W. Riggs in his study for developing his Models of society/environment/ecology which will be discussed later in this article. This approach analyses society in terms of its various structures and their functions for reaching an understanding regarding their positioning and functioning. Structures here can refer to govt.(political arrangement) and abstract like values systems in society. Function is seen as the discharge of duties by these structures in the society.
The limitation of this approach is that there has to be a correct identification of the structures before proceeding to analyse them especially in agraria-transitia and fused-prismatic societies.
3) Ecological Approach: Devised by Riggs this approach states that structures and their functions exist in an inter dependant manner. So if a study is to be undertaken of a particular structure and its function then its effects on other systems and their functions of society are also to be analysed. Limitations are that this approach is highly complex and difficult to apply.
Comparative public administrative is a very significant area of study in Public Administration as it helps in understanding Administrative setups and their functioning in various settings and societies/countries and what works and why it works. Also, it helps improvise administrative systems making them more efficient together with helping in adding and improvising the already existing literature/theories of Public Administration thus leading to a strong and practical theory of the subject with the help of practical experiments and analysis.