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private administration is still as a rule concentrated. The typical business enterprise, whether it be a factory or an office, is in one place; the owner or manager is in personal touch with his principal subordinates; he can see them at any moment, can tell them what to do, and can watch their conduct from day to day; while, if he has to employ agents at a distance, he can usually regulate their remuneration by the volume and quality of their work, and thus rely on the direct economic incentive. The activity of a typical ministry is, on the other hand, diffused over a large area ; it may have to execute policy simultaneously in all the towns, or all the villages, of an extensive country; it cannot ordinarily settle remuneration by results; and consequently it depends for success on a type of organisation with which a concentrated enterprise can dispense.
The coincidence of public with diffused administration is not indeed absolute, but the exceptions help to bring out the force of the distinction. A State mint or powderfactory is a concentrated unit, and its internal administration should, and usually does, conform closely to the methods of private business; a railway, whether it be State or private, requires diffused administration, and its methods in either case tend to approximate to those of the older Government departments, as may be inferred from the fact that the commonest criticisms brought against English railways under private management insisted on their hide-bound uniformity,' their undue centralisation, and their bureaucratic' habits and traditions. Examination of these and other types of activity leads to the conclusion that diffused administration requires different methods from concentrated administration; and, since most public administration is diffused, the student may for the time being confine his attention to the former, leaving the exceptional cases of concentrated public administration for consideration in connexion with the study of business enterprise.
It is possible that this distinction may become less important in the future. The aggregation of private enterprise, which at present is perhaps the most obvious tendency in economic development, may be followed by an approximation to the methods now described as bureaucratic,' while on the other hand the progress of
science may be expected to produce some alteration in those methods by bringing subordinates into closer touch with their superiors. For the present, however, the distinction holds good; and incidentally it furnishes a useful test of the validity of the recurring demand for
business government. There is no absolute reason why a man who has achieved success in concentrated administration should not prove equally successful in the more difficult branch of the art, but there is also no particular reason why he should. It may be hoped that, some day, an impartial scrutiny of the results of waradministration will throw light on the comparative value of recruitment from different sources in emergencies for which the trained staff does not suffice; but, subject to such new information, theory suggests that the State should look primarily to railways and other private activities where the system of administration is diffused.
Public administration may be either central or local, the relative importance of the two branches depending on the policy adopted by the State. The administration of a great city may be almost as intricate as that of a small country; but, speaking generally, local problems are comparatively simple, except when they involve relations with the central government, and in a first sketch it is permissible to pass them over, and concentrate attention on the larger and more complex subject. We may, therefore, proceed from the scope of the science to consider the principal units with wbich it is concerned. In England these are known by different names, Office, or Board, or Department as the case may be, but it is most convenient to speak simply of Ministries, a term which is rapidly gaining ground in current usage. A unit engaged in diffused administration consists of the establishment at headquarters, the local agencies, and the mechanism connecting the two; and, to begin at the base, we may notice three well-marked types of local agencies. A Ministry may operate through bodies elected locally, such as Town or County Councils (including committees of these bodies strengthened by additional members); or it may operate through its own subordinates located at convenient centres; or, lastly, it may depend upon agents appointed to represent the Administration as a whole. Much of the civilised world relies mainly on
the last-named type; but the French préfet, or the Indian Magistrate and Collector, has no counterpart in England other than the shadowy figure of His Majesty's Lieutenant, and the strength of the central administration is thereby substantially reduced. To take a striking illustration, in some European countries the duty of making the elections,' or of influencing voters in favour of a particular party, falls naturally on the préfets or similar officers ; supposing that an English Government should desire to adopt this course, what local agencies has it at command ? The Postmaster, the Inspector of Taxes, the Employment Exchange, a Committee of the County Council—the list is nearly exhaustive, and it is sufficient to indicate the limitations on the power of the central administration. A formal treatise would have much to say on the comparative advantages of these different types of agencies in regard to the various operations to be undertaken, but I must pass the subject by, remarking only that the facile system of grants-in-aid to complacent local authorities would by itself require a lengthy chapter.
Assuming then that a Ministry is provided with a sufficient number of local agencies, distributed over the country with reference to its needs, we have next to consider the nature of the connecting mechanism. It is a recognised principle that no individual authority should control more than a limited number of agencies, the number being defined roughly by the urgency of the services to be rendered. In military administration, where success may be essential to the national life, this limited number is very small indeed, usually less than four; and we have brigades of three regiments, divisions of three brigades, corps of three divisions, and so on. The degree of urgency is normally less in civil administration, and the limit for efficiency is consequently larger ; but in countries where the business of the State is highly organised, it is usually less than ten. To take an example from India, an administrative district in the United Provinces contains usually from four to six subdivisions; when the number rises to eight or nine, the charge is recognised as unduly heavy. A Commissioner supervises five or six districts; and, while there are as many as ten Commissioners under the Lieutenant-Governor, it is generally agreed that, for
strictly administrative purposes, the Provinces constitute too large a unit, though considerations of a different order may negative suggestions for their subdivision.
It will be apparent, then, that where a Ministry has to operate over a large and populous area intermediate localised organs become necessary, and that two or more stages of control must be provided. Each stage involves a break in personal contact; and, where the superior cannot see and speak to his subordinates at a moment's notice, he is forced to rely on other methods of communication-correspondence, statistical returns, periodical reports, and inspections made by himself or
member of his staff. In this brief outline I must pass by the numerous questions regarding the due use of each of these methods, and their harmonisation so as to produce the desired result—the efficient execution of the policy with which the Ministry is charged; but, in view of the popular contempt for official statistics, it may be worth while to point out that the use of 'ton-mile figures, the most spectacular advance in methods of statistical control, comes from private, not public, administration; and ; that the systems of scientific management,' for which also we are indebted mainly to America, are based on statistics more detailed than can be found in an ordinary public office.
At this point something must be said of two conceptions which are intimately connected with the mechanism of diffused administration, and which are spoken of as Uniformity and Centralisation. Uniformity is in many cases an obvious convenience to the public as well as to administrators; for example, a separate issue of postage stamps for each county would be merely a nuisance. On the other hand, uniformity may be convenient to the administrators, but not to the public; and a Ministry of Agriculture would soon be rendered unpopular by a system applied uniformly to large and small farmers, or failing to distinguish between the needs of arable, grazing, and dairying localities. Uniformity is always convenient to the administrator, at least for the moment, but it is sometimes opposed to the wider public interest; and the principle is clear, though it may not always be followed, that each proposal for uniformity should be dealt with primarily with regard
to the convenience of the public, to which the convenience of administrators must if necessary give way.
Centralisation, which in essence means the curtailment of the discretion of local agencies, is closely connected with uniformity; convinced advocates of such curtailment may indeed be found, but it is in great measure a by-product of ordinary administrative activity. An inspector, let us say, finds a particular course of action to be convenient, he enjoins it on the agencies subordinate to him, and their discretion is pro tanto curtailed; presently the attention of headquarters is attracted, the same course of action is enjoined generally, and is given a place in the Ministry's code of rules. Little or no harm may be done by each separate curtailment of discretion, but the cumulative result is to centralise all authority at headquarters; the intermediate organs, and still more the local agencies,can do nothing but apply the rules or refer a question for orders; members of the public find themselves shut off from the seat of power; and the régime of impersonal correspondence becomes established. It must, I think, be recognised that the tendency to centralisation is inherent in all diffused administration, and that no mechanical check on its extension is possible; its restriction within due limits depends on pressure from outside, exerted either by a statesman brought in as Minister or through the organs of public opinion.
We must now turn to the headquarters of the Ministry. In countries where popular government is established, the direction is ordinarily shared between the Minister, whose tenure depends mainly on the Legislature, and the Permanent Chief, who is necessarily an experienced administrator; and the precise division of functions probably depends less on principle than on the idiosyncrasies of Minister and Chief. Below them, the Ministry is organised into branches or departments, each responsible for some particular subdivision of the prescribed activity, and engaged in drafting orders, supervising their execution, and seeing that effect is given to the policy indicated by the Minister. This internal organisation is complex, and requires detailed study; all that can be said here is that it appears probable that this branch of administration, more than