Harris's Mirage: The Positive Service State
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 s268–s272, December 2010
How to Cite
Roberts, A. (2010), Harris's Mirage: The Positive Service State. Public Administration Review, 70: s268–s272. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6210.2010.02286.x
- Issue published online: 3 DEC 2010
- Article first published online: 3 DEC 2010
In 1942, Joseph Harris anticipated that the United States would develop a highly centralized and rationalized welfare state. The forecast was largely mistaken. The United States did develop an expansive national security apparatus that was relatively centralized and rationalized. By contrast, domestic policies were unevenly developed, and often highly decentralized in design. Harris’s forecast was unduly influenced by his own observations of trends immediately before World War II. He underestimated the powerful underlying forces that have historically checked centralization in the United States, and regained strength in the postwar period.
Guest editors’ note: In 1942, the University of Chicago Press published a book edited by Leonard D. White titled The Future of Government in the United States. Each chapter in the book presents predictions concerning the future of U.S. public administration. In this article, Alasdair Roberts examines Joseph Harris’s predictions on the future of “administrative management” in that book, comments on whether Harris’ predictions were correct, and then looks to the future to examine public administration in 2020.