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Human nature, tradition and law: a Burkean perspective in public administration

Akhlaque U. Haque (Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and Public Affairs and Project Manager, Center for Urban Affairs, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA)

Journal of Management History (Archive)

ISSN: 1355-252X

Article publication date: 1 September 1997



The article introduces Edmund Burke’s world‐view and its implications for public administration. From Burke’s idea about human nature, tradition, law and representation, it has been argued that in a Burkean world, administrative discretion is essential and inevitable. By using their discretionary power, Burke emphasized that public administrators as virtual representatives will meet the ends of the law made by elected representatives. Also to build a tradition and ethical foundation for administration, Burke argued for a unified administration. Given human fallibility and self‐interest such a unified body can internally check administrative actions. Furthermore, in order to demonstrate the contemporary relevance of Burke’s thought, the paper compares and contrasts this Burkean view of public administration with the views of other influential scholars in public administration. Important similarities exist that show that his views continue to demonstrate fruitful application in the art of governance.



Haque, A.U. (1997), "Human nature, tradition and law: a Burkean perspective in public administration", Journal of Management History (Archive), Vol. 3 No. 3, pp. 256-271.




Copyright © 1997, Company

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