Book Review - Selznick - Leadership in Administration

Essay by AngelusTVSUniversity, Master'sB+, December 2006

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Selznick's Leadership in Administration enters the realm of our understanding of Public Administration through sociology and institution. And this is admitted in the very introduction of his essay: "In the meantime my view became known in some quarters as the "institutional" perspective in organization theory" (Selznick, page vi). This is an important distinction to set clear so a proper understanding of his points can be elicited. His essay "outlines a perspective for the study of leadership in administrative organizations" (Selznick, page xi), how he goes about doing this is from a sociological or institutional perspective because it focuses on the human aspects of organizations, how this allows them to become institutions, and the problems that organizations face in their implementation with these ideas, as well as dealing with them in the long run. Selznick views this as a main aspect of public administration in organizations that deal with the public, because simply put the "public" is made up of people.

His essay "explor[es] the nature of critical decisions and of institutional leadership" while dealing with the above factors, as well as: the relationship between policy and administration, human relations, and observations as well as decision makers between human interaction on a large and small scale in the realm of internal and external organizational affairs.

The transition of a leader of an organization to a leader of an institution is one of his main concerns, and in the process of that transition, come the issues that Selznick divulges (and that I have listed) above, and he explores their effect on the organization, and how the leader manages these issues. Selznick's book is an important component to Public Administration, especially when juxtaposed with authors such as Cook and Wilson. While they both agreed that there...