How do theoretical ideas affect administrative practice?

Updated: Oct 6



“Having paid attention to the advantages of my stratagems, the commander must create a helpful situation over and beyond the ordinary rules” (Michaelson & Michaelson, 2010, p. 9); this phrase shows the importance of knowing your strategies, or theories. Theories in business are just that, theories. These theories aid managers in making decisions. Decision-making can be very difficult at times, and theories help alleviate the stress of making decisions. The definition of an organizational theory is, “neither a single theory nor a unified body of knowledge. Rather, it is diverse …” (Tompkins, 2004, p. 2). This diversity has great value. IF each theory were contingent on another, it would limit the decision-making, but since they are not dependent on each other, they can be made separately and individually. This is not to say that some theories cannot be synthesized into one hybrid or even used synonymously. The freedoms that organizational theory offers show the value of the theories.


In public administration and publicly owned companies, the fish bowl effect is alive and strong. The blame game is played often. This naturally alters decisions that are made, due to fear of public scrutiny. Having these theories is much like having guidelines or a study guide to make the most correct choice out of the possible choices. Is it fail-proof? Of course not; that is why there is the hybrid effect. In the real world, situations do not occur as they are written in textbooks; they are subject to timing, perspective, and many other confounding variables. It would be impossible to have every theory applicable to every situation, much like the rational theory is to consider all options, but is not attainable in the real world.


Theories can even be viewed as maps to running an organization. There are many different ways to obtain your goal; some are better than others, some safer, and some with high risk/high rewards. Each path (theory) leads in different, but similar ways. Each with its own perceptive of how to obtain the goal, none of them are necessarily wrong, but some may fit better in each situation. The main phrase to consider is “it depends.” This phrase applies to most questions regarding theories. So, “how do theoretical ideas affect administrative practice?” To put it in simple terms, they affect the decisions that are made on a daily basis and the decisions that are made on a long-term basis. Almost every theory is applicable to a situation, to some extent in real life. With that said, it is always vital to at least know the theories so that you can model your organizational constructs to assist the organization in reaching its maximum potential, effectiveness, and efficiency.

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