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Administration in Developing Countries and the Democratic Challenge

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Public Administration in developing countries, whether as a set of theories and approaches or as institutions of government, faces formidable challenges at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The challenges stem primarily from the democratic transformation that took place in many of these countries during the last decade of the twentieth century and the concomitant institutions and technologies that accompanied this democratic transition. This paper explores the anti-democratic tradition of development theories, especially development administration, and the daunting challenges that public administration faces in the newly established or reconstituted democracies in many developing counties. The challenge is multi-facetted. It includes operating in a political environment where politics are preeminent, not economic or administrative rationality. It also includes operating in an environment where the newly established democratic institutions have not yet developed the necessary legislation and institutions to hold the administration accountable. Finally, administrations in many developing countries are faced with the need to adapt to a rejuvenated private sector and an emerging global economy. All these challenges must be faced in the midst of an information revolution and a deepening cynicism and apathy by the citizen towards the state. The emphasis of this paper, however, is on the democratic challenge and the need of legislative institutions to build their capacities to insure proper control over the administration.


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