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JSPES, Vol. 35, No. 4 (Winter 2010)
pp. 450-473

Urban Development: The Importance of Public Administration

Herbert H. Werlin

University of Maryland (retired)

Political Elasticity (PE) theory is used to link public administration to urban development. The history of this theory (which won for the author the 2010 Fred Riggs Award given by the American Society of Public Administration’s Section on International and Comparative Administration) is presented. Basically it suggests that, as countries develop, political power takes “rubber band” and “balloon” characteristics, able to be delegated in many different ways while also being controlled and also able to affect predictably the behavior of subordinates and the general public. It indicates the following aspects to pay attention to: (a) the mixing of soft and hard forms of political power; (b) the delegation and control of political power; (c) responsiveness to regulations; (e) quality of human relationships and (f) problem-solving capacity.