Government as a Living Organism

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Within the American system of government, there is an innate need for a structure or agency that develops strategy and maintains power. “Ecology” is a term used to describe living organisms and their interactions between their natural and developed environment and was first applied to the field of public administration by the late Professor John M. Guas of Harvard University (Stillman, 2010).

Using this view, the organization and its employees are like the structure of a living organism. The environment of the organization contributes to the establishment of the power that it will come to acquire or lose over its life. Organizations must define their existence and develop policy initiatives that set forth goals or missions that are obtainable so they can develop a foothold within the structure of the system. The sources of these footholds can be developed through the political structureand the social make up of society. There are three primary paths through which they may develop: falter, status quo, or growth.

Falter – Agencies who are unable to garner support or develop a real or perceived need for their existence are often either cut out of the structure or left to wither away with dwindling budgets and lack of political posturing.

Status Quo – Agencies who find enough support to maintain themselves as relatively docile elements of the bureaucracy that continue to exist under the protection of a friendly political ally. These agencies can neither develop a positive growth plan nor the political or social support to garner additional support beyond their present existence.

Growth – Agencies which develop either the political or social structure necessary for growth. Through either real or perceived needs, th...

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...vanced knowledge and ownership in the task as a reason to elevate the administrative power possessed by the agency. Those who fall out of favor can likewise find that the support that was once the seed of their successful organization has now become the source of great tension and faltering public and legislative support.

The concepts of ecology and power continue to go hand in hand in the field of public administration. The organizational environment across the political structure contributes to the ever flowing tide of life that makes up the administrative system of government. This system is continually breathing life into new entities while seeking to tend to the wounded agencies that it encompasses. The founding fathers may have best summarized the mandate for administrative power in the opening line of the preamble of the Consitution, "We the people..."

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