Essay on Leadership of Public Bureaucracies

Decent Essays
Leadership of Public Bureaucracies – The Administrator as Conservator

November 3, 2010

In Leadership of Public Bureaucracies – The Administrator as Conservator, Larry D. Terry explores public administration from a relatively new perspective, that of Bureaucratic Leadership, which he describes as historically neglected by scholars. Bureaucratic leadership, according to Terry, is “…institutional leadership in the administration of public bureaucracies within the executive branch of all levels of government” (p. 4). Terry goes on to discuss the important role bureaucratic leaders play in public administration. Terry’s first chapter looks at the reasons why the subject of bureaucratic leadership has not received the attention he
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I also feel Terry does a nice job of using real world examples that the reader can understand. Critically speaking, I think Terry is too limiting in his definition of administrative conservator exclusively as “public officials who are neither elected nor politically appointed but who hold administrative positions by virtue of a merit system.” I believe that elected officials as well as appointees can and do serve as conservators. In fact, I believe they are often the guardians of institutional integrity. I admit that my opinion is largely affected by my own personal experience as an appointed public official. Nonetheless, I feel Terry shortchanges those elected and appointed individuals that take their calling to serve and preserve very seriously.

Chapters 3 through 5 develop arguments about how the role of administrator as conservator should be enacted and what leaders should seek to do in this role. Chapter 3 attempts to harness the massive role and responsibility of the administrator with respect to conserving organizational mission. Terry centers his discussion around the authority of the institution and its leaders. He explores the administrator’s daunting task of interpreting and upholding the mission in both the “spirit and letter of the law” by using pivotal examples in recent history of public organizations violating such laws including the IRS’ seizure of bank
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