chapter  1
History of Public Administration as an Academic Discipline
Pages 16

Interestingly, Progressive Era academics were political activists as well as scholars. They saw professionalized public administration as just one tool by which to transform government. Better-run programs and more-competent employees were two objectives in the overall effort to improve government, but these reformers realized that there was a necessary political connection. It was not unusual for such individuals to be candidates for public office. Woodrow Wilson, who served as governor of New Jersey and then as president, may be the bestknown example; Charles E. Merriam, author of The New Democracy and the New Despotism (1939), was also active in electoral politics in Chicago. While these Progressive Era scholars clearly advocated increased professionalization and responsiveness in both the administrative and political arenas, their balanced approach would not remain ascendant for very long. The next influential period would be dominated by persons who were less active politically. Not surprisingly, the primary concern of this group was more narrowly managerial.