Public Versus Private Administrators

Application: Public Versus Private Administrators The words public and private generally are understood to be antonyms, one meaning “out in the open, visible to all” and the other meaning “restricted to a select group.” In the context of government, a public administrator is an individual who is employed by a government organization and works in the service of a community, a state, or nation.

A private administrator is a person employed by an organization that is owned and operated by private individuals, stockholders, or investors—not the government. In some ways, the use of words with opposite meanings seems fitting, as the roles that public and private administrators play are quite different. Public administrators work within a political and legal context.

This means they have certain responsibilities and duties that do not exist in the private sector. However, the roles that public and private administrators play are alike in some ways. Many business tasks that private administrators perform every day, such as budgeting, customer service, or human resource management, are equally relevant in public organizations. As the authors of your textbook point out, the public and private sectors often overlap in more obvious ways. Government contracting, increasing privatization of government functions, and the growth of the nonprofit sector have brought the public and private sectors together. Although a line between public and private remains, the two intersect as well.

In this assignment, you explore these relationships by comparing and contrasting the roles of public and private administrators. To prepare for this assignment: Review Chapter 1 in your course text, Introducing Public Administration, paying special attention to what the political, legal, managerial, and occupational definitions of public administration indicate about the roles that public administrators play when carrying out their professional responsibilities.

Review the assigned pages of Chapter 2 in your course text, Introducing Public Administration, focusing on how the cultures of public organizations affect the roles that public administrators play within them, as well as how these cultures and roles compare with those of private organizations and administrators. Review the website, Management Challenges: Government vs. Private Sector, noting the different challenges faced by public (government) and private sector managers. Reflect on your past experiences within the private sector, whether as a manager, an employee, and/or an observer (e.g., customer, client, patron, etc.).

In light of knowledge gained from the Learning Resources, consider how the roles that private administrators play in their professional lives are both similar to and different from the roles that public administrators play. The assignment (2–3 pages): Explain at least two specific similarities between the roles that public administrators and private administrators play in their professional lives. Explain at least two specific differences between the roles of public and private administrators. Explain at least one insight you have or conclusion you can draw about public administrators as a result of this comparison.

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