From Encyklopedia Administracji Publicznej

ADMINISTRATION – Latin: ministrare – service, execution, action subordinated to orders. Written with the suffix ad (“towards”) – that gives this action a feature of potential purpose – this word is synonymous with: help, service, leadership, direction, management, governing or organising to achieve a certain goal, etc. As Emanuel Iserzon emphasizes, the shade of purpose of action has made this term more relevant as an indication of the activity of directing. The word administrare was adapted in Polish to the form of “to administer” (hence the administration). According to Iserzon to administer means to direct the performance of particular tasks so that the means used were appropriate to achieve the objective goal. There are many different definitions of the term “administration” in the literature on this subject. The diversity is primarily due to the timing of the definition and the social, economic and political conditions prevailing at that time. Edward Ochendowski emphasizes that such a state of affairs is not due to the lack of scientific ability to formulate this matter by doctrine, but finds its basis in the characteristics of a. in the areas of its activity, its structure and forms of action, which are so diverse that their full definition is almost impossible. More than 100 years ago, Gerard Cooreman, the then Prime Minister of Belgium, said that three things related to each other but different should be understood as a.: the whole of the executive’s attributes, the execution of these attributes, the total of the officers and staff, that is the administrative personnel. Henryk Fayol, on the other hand, contesting such a perspective of evaluation argued that a. covers not only state offices and services, but businesses of every kind, size, form and purpose. Stanisław Kasznica remarked in a similar tone since he believed that we use the word a. to describe the long-term and planned activities that encompass a certain group of people and the multiplicity of goods and aiming at the ultimate goal of satisfying the needs – of the administrator’s own or others. In his opinion, a. is a phenomenon that occurs in every area of human life. Individuals (physical persons), associations or unions (legal entities), and the state administer (manage). The term “administration” without any qualifier used in the above meaning is similar to the colloquial meaning. Adding the qualifier significantly changes this situation. By clarifying and pointing out that one means, for example, either private or public a., significant narrowing of the meaning is made. According to Janusz Borkowski, adjectives: state, public and private, bind actions, persons and structures with defined relationships, interests, premises and assumptions of policies. Almost from the dawn of history public administration (historically also referred to as royal, princely, state, etc.) has acted as servant of the system and executive apparatus of public authority. Only from the 18th century did the a. begin to have special characteristics, also typical of the one contemporary to us. These characteristics can be reduced to three aspects: the overwhelming emphasis on the bureaucratic system, the coverage by the a. of a significant area of social importance, and basing its action on general legal norms. Increasing the activity of public authorities in the field of law-making has led to a further change in the perception of a. The term a. reflects the political and legal views and ideas connected with the particular stage of the development of the society. (→ public administration, government administration, local-government administration) [K. Mroczka].

Literature: E. Iserzon, Prawo administracyjne [Administrative law], Warszawa 1968 ■ H. Izdebski, M. Kulesza, Administracja publiczna. Zagadnienia ogólne [Public administration. General issues], Warszawa 2004 ■ E. Ochendowski, Prawo administracyjne. Część ogólna [Administrative law. General part], Toruń 2004.