Sustainability as a Conceptual Focus for Public Administration
Article first published online: 3 DEC 2010
Copyright © 2010 The American Society for Public Administration
Public Administration Review
Special Issue: Special Issue on the Future of Public Administration in 2020 Edited by Rosemary O'Leary and David M. Van Slyke Sponsored by the Phanstiel Family and the Maxwell School of Syracuse University
Volume 70, Issue Supplement s1, pages s78–s88, December 2010
How to Cite
Fiorino, D. J. (2010), Sustainability as a Conceptual Focus for Public Administration. Public Administration Review, 70: s78–s88. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6210.2010.02249.x
- Issue published online: 3 DEC 2010
- Article first published online: 3 DEC 2010
This article argues that sustainability should define the conceptual focus for the field of public administration in the coming decade. Sustainability involves three systems: environmental, economic, and political/social systems. The challenge of governance, and thus of public administration, is to sustain each of these systems on its own while maintaining an appropriate balance among them. The article defines the sustainability concept, and its environmental component in particular, in ways that are relevant to public administration; assesses the validity of the concept in terms of the interrelationships and interdependencies among the three systems; and suggests the implications for the field. By integrating knowledge and study of the environmental system with the traditional competence in the political/social and economic systems that is expected in the field, public administrators may achieve a more theoretically complete and empirically valid foundation for education, research, and practice.
And just as many apparently insoluble problems have eluded solution until someone discovered the “right” way to view them, so it may be that our failure to cope adequately with certain large and complex problems of our time is a consequence of failure to see the unifying elements in the complexity.
—Lynton K. Caldwell, 1963