Business Administration and Public Administration

As a student, have you ever wondered about the relationship between business administration and public administration? there are differences between business administration and public administration. This will be an eye-opener for you as a student aspiring to study business or public administration.

In this article, you will know the differences and similarities between business administration and public administration, and all you need to know before studying business administration and public administration. You can also check out this Introduction To Business Administration for more information on business administration.

Definition of Public Administration and Business Administration

Public administration deals with how a country’s administration is organized and how it functions, is the art and science of managing public programs and policies, ensuring their effective execution for the benefit of society.

The study and application of public administration are founded on the principle that the proper functioning of an organization or institution relies on effective management.

Business administration is a field of study that is concerned with the study of managerial techniques to increase the productivity of a business organization or firm to achieve productivity and sales promotion for profit purposes.

Business administration is found in various areas of life, more importantly, it covers the functions of a business administrator or manager, which include planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling of resources.

The general differences between business administration and public administration

There are sharp differences between business administration and public administration, which makes both unique, public administration is different from business administration in the sense that both have different theories and ideas.

1. Public administration focuses on the implementation of public policies and aspirations, while business administration is concerned with the implementation of private policies and interests. however, public law governs public administration while business administration is regulated by private law.

2. Public administration is organized and financed from taxpayers money and it is subject to public accountability, while business administration relies on private funds and is accountable to the shareholders or the financiers.

3. Public administration operates within a bureaucratic environment and it is under the greater pressure of the socio-political environment, while business administration is business oriented and the socio-political environment does not exert much pressure on it.

4. The goals pursued by public administration fulfill non-economic and social-political ends whereby business administration pursues economic objectives and profit maximization.

The general similarities between business administration and public administration

1. Both administrations take place within a formal organization and the socio-political framework. The employees in both administrations require human and material resources to achieve objectivity, this implies that they have elements of management and administration.

2. Public and private law regulates public administration, also business administration implements both private and public law.

3. Both administrations are interested in economic and socio-political matters although the level of the interest may differ depending on the prevailing circumstances.

Historical development of public administration in Nigeria

The geographical entity known today as Nigeria is the creation of the British Empire for easy administration. In the last quarter of the 19th century, the imperialist powers balkanized and partitioned Africa between themselves, and in a bid to avoid rivalry among the imperialists, the famous Berlin conference of 1884-85 was convened.

Africa was eventually partitioned for domination and control by European nations, and Nigeria fell under the control of the British administration. The system of administration the British used in Nigeria was the policy of indirect rule whereby the existing indigenous institutions were made use of in running the territory.

Factors that influence public administration

1. Large Territory

Large territories require a large scale of infrastructure compared to small territories that might not need so much infrastructure like railroads, electricity, roads, etc. With large territory, a nation can be blessed with vast mineral resources which can also serve as a source of influence in administration.

In Nigeria, the large sum of money that will go into building these infrastructures cannot be compared to the amount Togo will budget for the same infrastructure due to the small size of the territory.

2. Economic Factor

As we stated above the administration needs infrastructures to function, these infrastructures rely on the financial capability of the country. It is a fact that you cannot separate politics from economics, both are meant to complement each other.

A nation’s economy affects the quantity and quality of working tools, materials, standard of living, salaries, etc. and these in turn have either positive or negative effects on administration.

3. Political Factor

The party system is the pattern of political parties in Nigeria and it varies according to the number of parties at a particular time. The ruling party can decide to be biased in the distribution of funds to the opposition-controlled area, and this will hinder administrative progress in the country.

4. Cultural Factor

Women in Africa have suffered cultural segregation in that it is perceived that they cannot hold any administrative post due to their sex. The traditional culture of the Igbo ethnic nationality makes it difficult to accept a woman as the Chief Executive of the eastern state.

There is also the issue of the extended family factor, and what is referred to as the Nigeria factor that influences the administrative process in Nigeria, these influences have been on the negative side, it gives room for the employment of incompetent people all in the name of family ties. the traditions of people affect the way they reason and behave.

5. Population

A country’s population, whether large or small can have a tremendous effect on its administration. If a country has a large population, it means that the services rendered by the civil service will also be large to benefit every region, state, and citizen of that country.

This also will be in huge financial responsibility. But if a country is small in population, the financial, human, and material burden will be lesser compared to a larger populated country.

Business administration and public administration

Factors that influence business administration

  1. Technological development
  2. The Environment
  3. Social Norms
  4. Economic Shifts
  5. Market Trends
  6. Laws and Regulations
  7. Public health

Business administration and Public administration: Similarities and Differences in Terms of size

1. Both administrations are service-oriented, however, public administration is always large because of the abundant services it renders to the people. Although business administration provides services, it is mainly restricted to its clients because of the scope.

2. Business administration is not directly integrated with the political system in the way that all public administration agencies are. The public agencies are political whereas business enterprises are more of a market environment.

3. According to Adebayo (ibid), public administration responds to a set of demands. In contrast, the business administration especially the large one must be sensible to political influence on expatriate quotas. Still, such political interference affects business administration only marginally yet it does not stop it from observing market taste of efficiency.

Business administration and public administration: similarities and differences in terms of the services they offer

Public administration is difficult to define, even when defined; it is difficult to measure (Lane, Ibid). Lane continued that those output measures that are already available often did not reflect the real purpose of the activities they purport to measure. This, however, could be a result of the quality of the productivity.

Lane Frederick cited this example in a government hospital where most people have gone to receive treatment but how many of them have been cured of their diseases became a problem in measuring productivity of government service.

Unlike the business sector, most government agencies provide services and not goods. He further maintained that the number of clients treated in a government health or rehabilitation program does not indicate how many people are helped.

When an agency provides this intermediate output of lower cost, this only means that the potential for measuring productivity has improved. But unless there is a direct link between the intermediate output and final output this potential will not be realized.

This physical output in government agencies hardly considers the quality of those physical units of output or the level of services provided. it is difficult to measure the productivity of government, but in business administration, the opposite is the case.

Is public administration a business-related course?

public administration is not a business-related course, business administration deals with the structure of a private business or organization, while public administration deals with managing the public sector which is mainly the government sector.

Which one is better business administration and public administration?

Whether business administration or public administration is better, well it depends on personal interests and aims. Business administration is preferred majorly for students who are interested in working for corporations, growing their businesses, and comprehending market dynamics.

Is public administration a hard course?

Yes, public administration is difficult like every graduate course. Still, it is advantageous because the course gives you the mechanisms to analyze society and create a new perspective of the world.

Where can a person who studied public administration work in Nigeria?

A person who studied public administration can work in companies and places like a public relations intern at Coca-Cola, Head of finance administration, MIS at Pagatech Limited, etc.


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