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In this dissertation I use an institutional framework to examine the contributions of George Washington to public administration theory and practice. The best way to understand current public administration theory is to examine its historical roots. Institutions are a part of culture, and thus, public administration's institutions have passed from generation to generation along with our other cultural beliefs and values. As the first commander in chief of the Continental Army, the only president of the Constitutional Convention, and the first president of the United States, Washington was frequently in positions to establish precedents that could later become institutions of American public administration. In my dissertation, I use grounded analysis and primary documents from archives to uncover Washington's theories and practices. I then match these findings to some of the most important institutions in American public administration. This research is important for three principal reasons. One, as the first administrator of the federal government, Washington was in the position to set precedent in public administration theory and practice. Two, understanding the historical development of public administration enhances our understanding of current public administration theory and practice. And three, there is a gap in the literature because current scholars have not studied Washington's contributions to public administration. In addition to uncovering Washington's general theory of public administration, I describe his contributions to theory and practice in the areas of military administration, education, Progressivism, financial management, and public-private partnerships. Washington's general theory is based on a combination of virtue ethics and utilitarianism. Using his theory, he helped originate institutions such as the federal budgeting process and the military's professional reading program, he serves as a role model for such institutions as civilian control of the military and government accountability, and he indicated the direction of such institutions as merit selection and public education.
George Washington, Military Administration, Progressivism, Theory, Utilitarianism, Virtue Ethics
Date of Defense
June 22, 2012.
A Dissertation submitted to the Reubin O’D. Askew School of Public Administration and Policy in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
William Earle Klay, Professor Directing Dissertation; Ralph Brower, Committee Member; Lance deHaven-Smith, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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