Get access

Does Frederick Taylor’s Ghost Still Haunt the Halls of Government? A Look at the Concept of Governmental Efficiency in Our Time


Hindy Lauer Schachter is a professor in the School of Management at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. She is the author of Reinventing Government or Reinventing Ourselves: The Role of Citizen Owners in Making a Better Government (SUNY Press, 1997), Frederick Taylor and the Public Administration Community: A Reevaluation (SUNY Press, 1989), and Public Agency Communication: Theory and Practice (Nelson Hall, l983). Her articles have appeared in Public Administration Review, Administration and Society, International Journal of Public Administration, Public Administration Quarterly, and other journals.


Since the Progressive Era, efficiency has been a cherished administrative value and a key concept in the study of public administration. Despite contemporary attention to other criteria, such as responsiveness and equity, efficiency remains a guiding governmental value and a focus of scholarly writing. Although efficiency is often considered an apolitical value, this article argues that public sector efficiency receives meaning through a political framework. The analysis explores changing definitions of transit efficiency to propose a revitalized, politically attuned concept.