Meaning and Differences between Private and Public Administration

Administration is all about a systematic means of conducting, controlling and management of affairs in a given organization. Administration is generally classified into public and private administration.

Public administration is a specialized branch of administration that is concerned with public policies and programs, government functions and providing various services to the general public. Public administration is concerned with public interests and public matters while private administration is basically that of private interest.

Simply put, public administration is the implementation of public policies by governmental bodies. Private administration is usually a business or commercial enterprise involved in business and commercial activities which are primarily not political in nature, and involves various series of activities such as planning, production, and marketing, financing, controlling and coordinating a given organization.

Meaning & similarity between Public and private administration
Meaning & similarity between Public and private administration

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Similarities Between Public And Private Administration

Presence of organizational structure and Systematization – both public and private administration may have an organizational structure where there is hierarchy of power and authority. Both public and private administrations operate within a systemized structure. Both have laid down rules regulating their operation. They both employ the system of planning, directing, controlling, organizing and management.

a. Income Revenue: Both public and private administration can generate their income through the services they which render to the people.

b. Presence of an objective: Administration whether public or private, has an objective for its existence.

Differences between private and public administration
Differences between private and public administration

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Difference Between Public And Private Administration

Public and private administrations are of two parallel lines bearing different approach, methodology, means and ends. Below are the differences between public and private administration:

1. Nature and Scope: The nature and scope of public and private administrations clearly differs. While public administration operates wider in scope, private administration is basically self-centered. Public administration is concerned with general public and foresees the implementation of government policies. This is not so for private administration which focuses more on private business management and is based solely on market driven dynamics and profits.

Public administration employs bureaucratic approach. The system and structure of its administration is based upon a hierarchy of authority. Public administration employs pluralistic approach to decision making. There is usually no monopoly of power and authority. Public administration operates essentially in favour of the interest of the public as opposed to the nature of private administration which operates essentially for the interest of their entity.

Public administration is set up by the government; hence, it is subject to political directions and interference while private administration is merely a private enterprise set up by an individual or group of individuals and not subject to any political direction.

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2. Goals and Objective: The objectives of public and private administrations always differ. While public administration is generally not profit oriented, it seems that the main purpose of every private organization is always profit driven. They render services with an end point of creating in return, profits for the owners and shareholders.

Public administration is rather concerned with rendering services which are beneficial to the public at large. Although public administrations usually generate revenues in the cause of their services, it is yet not to be regarded as being profit oriented. This is because, revenues generated revolves for the benefit of the public and not into the purse of a private person or private purpose.

Another difference in the objective of public and private administration is in their political interests. Public administration is clearly political in nature and is politically driven. Its branches are mostly manned by politically elected or appointed officials in government. They are strategically institutions set up by the government in furtherance of public affairs and welfare. This suggests the level of political oriented which public administrations are. This is not so for private administrations.

Private administrations are set up by private individuals for rendering services to get their private interest in return. The government may have some degree of interference in a private administration for certain regulations and incidences such as tax payment, public interest, etc. On this same hand, a private administration may have certain degree of involvement in government affairs.

This incidence does not in any way alter their identity as public or private administration. It seems that the end point of private administration which is its private nature and profit ends is that which defines the nature of an administration. While public administration secures the economic and social welfare of the society as their paramount duty and objective, private administrations may also do the same but upon honorary basis out of their own free will.

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3. Legal Framework and Regulations: Administrations in the public sectors are much more regulated than in private sectors. While public sectors are regulated by laws of the states and specifically laws made by the federal or state legislative body which establishes and empowers them, private sectors are merely regulated by dictates, rules and byelaws set up by and within the organization.

4. Ownership: Ownership of a public sector cannot be attributed to any individual. This is so even when the sector or administration was set up by a single private person and handed over to the government. Also, the management of public sectors’ administration is never fixed or permanent.

These are not so for private administrations. For private administration, ownership may be attributable to an identifiable individual or individuals. Its ownership can as well be of fixed or permanent nature or otherwise.

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5. Source of Revenue: Public administration may generate their revenues from tax payment, fines, investments, donations, auctions, etc. For private administrations, their source of revenue and income is essentially from the profits of the services they offer.

6. Accountability: For public administrations, their services are essentially for the benefits of the public at large; therefore they owe their accountability to the people. Public administration being a service to the people is regarded as a critical position and demands meticulous measures and high level of transparency.

For private administrations, they are accountable to their employers as much as their employers are accountable to them.

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7. Rigidity and Flexibility: Policies and decision making for public administration is rigid and takes a rigorous process due to its political and administrative structure, and protocols necessary to be observed in furtherance of administrative functions. Also while making decisions; a lot of factors are taken into consideration, both internal and external, including public interest.

There could be interferences from the government, within and outside the organization. For private administration, it is more flexible by its very nature. Decisions could be made overnight. The process of decision making is usually less boisterous. There is less interference.

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In all, it seems that the most striking distinguishing factor between public and private administration lies on its ownership and objectives. While both render services to the people and also can generate income and revenues from the people in concomitant to the services which they render, one (private administration) is profit oriented, whereas the other (public administration) is not.

One remains of public interest whereas the other is strictly private. Moreso, it may seem that public administration is more sustainable than private administration due to its public nature, government interference and the continuing nature of its administration, i.e continuity in government. Also, while public administration may treat all citizens equally, private administration treats their clients differently based on their client profile, relationship and other factors.