This book provides a systematic and comprehensive introduction to the philosophical foundations of the study and practice of public administration. Philosophy and Public Administration provides the reader with an agile introduction to the main philosophical streams from classical metaphysics to phenomenology, empiricism to rationalism and pragmatism to personalism, ultimately revealing their significance for public governance and management.
Ontological and epistemological issues are brought to the fore in discussing contemporary conceptions of the nature of public administration. The book explores connections between basic ontological stances and public governance, shedding light on the nature of public administration by revisiting fundamental philosophical issues. The quest for justification and legitimacy of public governance is examined, and 'Common Good', 'Social contract' and 'Personalism' arguments vetted. The works of major thinkers like Thomas More and Niccolò Machiavelli are revisited, drawing implications for contemporary public administration.
This is the only book to provide a comprehensive examination of how philosophical thought matters for understanding public administration. It is a must-read for scholars and practitioners alike reflecting on or practising the management of public services.
'Take this book into your hand. Open it, start reading, and think about the text. The exercise is worth it. It opens up new intellectual horizons.'
– Journal of Public Administration and Policy
'Philosophy and Public Administration: An Introduction, by Edoardo Ongaro is both important and necessary for decision-makers,scholars and students ... In a world of governance which is dominated more and more frequent by emergencies (often unimportant), simplistic ideas, populism, obsessive search for easy results, multiplication of boxes which need to be ticked, the work of Edoardo Ongaro is necessary and important for those interested in the essence of public administration: ideas and values which provide its deep meaning.'
– Transylvanian Review of Administrative Sciences
'This is a bold and timely study which fills a major gap in the current literature on public governance, public administration, and public management. Ongaro offers a thoughtful exploration of the main figures and movements in the history of philosophy, providing a systematic introduction to the ontological and political philosophical foundations of public administration. It will benefit anyone interested in deeper philosophical thinking relevant to public management.'
– Maria Rosa Antognazza, King's College London, UK
'This book makes a unique and significant contribution to the philosophical, ontological and epistemological foundations of public administration by delving more broadly and deeply into the connections between philosophy and public administration and management. This helps us better understand the complexities of public administration from a broad array of perspectives, including bureaucracy, democracy, management and governance. This book should be required reading in programs of public administration, management and policy.'
– Norma M. Riccucci, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, US
'To give a substantial answer to the key PA-questions of what we can know, what we should do, and what we may hope for, this book gives an indispensable and substantial contribution of a solid bridge between philosophy and PA. Since this bridge did not exist yet, Ongaro had to write this book. Scholars and students alike will hugely benefit of it.'
– Geert Bouckaert, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium
'Edoardo Ongaro's book enters the stage at an auspicious moment for bringing the field of Public Administration back to its philosophical root. Public Administration today needs to assert itself philosophically for its own and society's sake, but how to do so without an introductory textbook? – which we now have. As Philosophy and Public Administration takes stock of this topic in a comprehensive, even-handed, and sophisticated way, it is a must-read for scholars and students alike.'
– Wolfgang Drechsler, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia
Edoardo Ongaro, Professor of Public Management, The Open University, UK.