Public Administration is a government's application of the policies and regulations it creates within a given organizational structure. Brian J. Cook's "Bureaucracy and Self-Government" is an explanation of how exactly a government goes about bringing these ends to fruition, who decides the course it takes, and how best the administration that manages it is organized. More importantly, Cook also emphasizes that in doing so, it must Public administration must also be ever expanding and changing in it's capacity and makeup. The question that he tackles is stated at the beginning in the introductory portion, and also in the conclusion (to bring his point full circle), is: "How to balance the constitutiveness of administration against its substantial instrumental character in a manner consistent with the liberal democratic structure and principles of the constitution?"
When first encountering the question at the beginning of the book, this seems a very daunting task, because of the many elements of the question.
What exactly is public administration, its instrumental and constitutive character and liberal democratic structure? The principles of the constitution, is really the only clear cut aspect straight away.
As he starts out saying on, on page 1, "the administration of government is a prime target for forces agitating for change in the American polity." And this encompasses a major theme throughout the whole book - that brings up directly, in my opinion, the most important part of his work; the struggle between the instrumental character and it's constitutive character. This is what he strives to answer in his question, and also explain through historical context why that conflict exists.
As a reader, that is the most important debate that drives the book, and you do get a sense of it as a struggle, as it flip-flops back and forth, from the...