Friday, May 10, 2019

Roberts on the Imperial Origins of American Public Administration

Alasdair S. Roberts, University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Policy, has posted Bearing the White Man's Burden: American Empire and the Origin of Public Administration:
Taft in The Philippines, 1901-03 (LC)
Conventional wisdom about the origin of American public administration is mistaken in several ways. It overlooks the American experiment with colonial administration in the two decades following the Spanish-American war. Academics wrote textbooks, taught courses, and proposed new schools to prepare young men for colonial service. At the same time, reformers used the new dependencies as proving grounds for administrative reforms they wanted at home. Colonial administration was comparative in its approach: American academics and reformers often sought to emulate the practices of European empires. The project of colonial administration was not value-neutral or concerned with establishing "efficient democracy." On the contrary, it was founded on a belief in the superiority of Anglo-Saxon civilization and the need to maintain "white man's rule." Some academics who expressed such views are now counted as pioneers in American public administration.