Present district administration: transactional or transformational

Our observations and analysis in the previous section highlight the transactional nature of the present district administration. Recent public administration literature also emphasizes the paradigm shift from neo-Weberian toward New Public Management as well as New Public Governance. In this context, Brookes and Grint (2010) discuss the need for administrators to integrate skill for governance along with the skill for management and leadership. It is not enough that they focus only on “doing right things in the right way” but before that they also emphasize “right people are doing things right” and hence foremost comes their skill of “doing the right things” (Marathe and Kakani, 2020).

In the wake of recent reforms, literature argues that the role of public leadership ought to change from transactional to transformational. Our field experiences and interactions with officers of varied quality are in consonance with the same. We could observe that the shadowed DCs continuously made value trade-offs across individual values, professional values, organizational values, legal values, and public interest values (Van Wart, 1998).

While transactional skills such as providing support, consideration, and empowerment are important, the transformational skills such as inspiring others, stimulating, acting as role models, and creating an inclusive vision are even more so. In our experience, transformational District Collectors also exert influence through performance systems, while also indirectly influencing culture on employee use of constitutional public values in administrative decision making. So, for an effective role of public administration, creating transformational public administrators has become a necessity.

A case in point is developmental initiatives in India involves several bodies namely Village Sabha, Village Panchayats, Block Development Administration, Zila Parishad, Member of Parliament (MP), Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), District Magistrate, Kisan Sabhas, Trade Unions, and so on. These bodies have multiple goals on their time schedules; these goals are often contradictory' (with others) and often act in collision. However, the DC is the point of contact and information for most of these initiatives. Typical administrators take decision by making trade-offs within a given framework of rules. More often we find that transactional District Administrators of another district largely wanted to ensure that they are compliant with the paperwork i.e., “doing in the right way.”

However, the need of the hour is that we need new kinds of public administration officials who can facilitate smooth coordination of multiple stakeholders in large open, democratic public systems that who can transform the given boundary' conditions to completely change the status quo using convergence and other transformational aspects.

Paradigm change needs to be supported with changes in respective structures and systems. Perhaps, we have not yet institutionalized the new paradigm. Probably, one way for the government(s) is to work toward aligning out each and every' human resource system of civil service from recruitment to periodical assessment and evaluation in line with the paradigm to enable transformational capabilities are chosen and honed further.

Traditionally, providing human resource assessments inside government in an efficient and legal manner was an apt public personnel administration. Environment, favorable or unfavorable, interacts with all the processes of neurodevelopment and impact the flourishing of natural potential (Perry', 2002). Hence, focus should shift toward training on core competencies of transformational leadership. For instance, if the transactional way of executing is going to get rewarded better than the transformational way of executing during the initial day's of civil service, then obviously future District Collectors would be more inclined to be transactional than transformational leaders. A suggestion could be that - going forward the sy'stem may promote and reward the administrators with broader functional orientation and having a greater transformational potential.

In addition to reorienting the administrative thinking among public sy'stem officials (the current bureaucrats), enabling structures, systems, and processes also needs to be placed to see the transformation we want to see. Chapter 6 of this book discusses a simple holistic framework that could help us achieve this transformation that we have been looking for.


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