Revista de Administración Pública

Esta revista forma parte del acervo de la Biblioteca Jurídica Virtual del Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas de la UNAM
José Sosa Public Administration: the State’s Perspective
Revista de
Jose R. Castelazo. Public Administration: the State’s
Perspective. México, INAP, 2010. 335 pages. 2nd edition.
ISBN 978-607-9026-04-2
José Sosa
When revisiting the literature on government and public administration, published in the last 15 or 20 years, several ideas emerge as
the dominant ones, sometimes conforming a paradigm, sometimes
only as a short-lived fashion. Following the classic idea of Luis F.
Aguilar on the unavoidable substitution of ideas and theories, what
seems to be the main feature of current public administration studies
is their diversity, in terms of the objects, the concepts and the practical uses.
On these grounds, the book by José R. Castelazo focuses on two
questions that affect the development and social use of administrative studies. On the one hand, the book makes a comprehensive
review of the most commonly issues referred in the academic and
practical literature, as a way to provide with a sort of “State of the
Art” in Public Administration. By doing this, the book contributes not
only to an adequate understanding of this academic field, but also to
organize its internal debate.
On the other hand, the book assumes a critical perspective, and
shows a reluctant position, towards a simple acceptation of the socalled need to substitute concepts and theories to “ensure” the advancement of the discipline. On the contrary, the author offers several
arguments to substantiate his central proposal: Public Administration
demands to be examined from a State’s perspective.
Castelazo’s position resumes and updates the old idea that Public
Administration is, after all and despite the changes that the 1980’s
and the 1990’s brought about, the field where Political and Public
DR © 2011. instituto Nacional de Administración Pública
Esta revista forma parte del acervo de la Biblioteca Jurídica Virtual del Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas de la UNAM
Revista de Administración Pública XLVI 1
Institutions are meant to solve their organizational and management
problems and issues, beyond similarities and coincidences with other
kinds of institutions (private firms, markets and civil organizations).
This idea was defined during the 1960’s and had one of its most prominent advocates in the writings of Jesús Reyes Heroles on the Raison d’État. Reyes Heroles’ ideas served to both ends, to avoid the
abandonment of legal studies around the State and its relationship
with citizens, due to the increasing interest among American political
scientists for understanding solely the logic of the political system;
and to provide a framework to locate the emerging policy and management studies within the State’s sphere of influence.
The book by José R. Castelazo resumes and refreshes Reyes Heroles’ position, with its entire explanatory potential and offers, using Luis
F. Aguilar words, a new perspective: “to book is intended to overcome
the conceptual and practical fragmentation of Public Administration”
(page iv of the Foreword to the 2nd edition). This explains, as well, the
amplitude on the issues considered and analyzed by the book.
The volume comprises ten chapters, plus an introduction and a section of final remarks and conclusions. The general argument goes
from a general vision to more particular questions, even though the
author resumes continually his more basic argument. From the bulk
of ideas that the book contains, a few can be regarded as the most
relevant and transcendent.
As Carrillo Castro put it, the book by José Castelazo “is about Public
Administration as a discipline to serve Society, in times when significant processes are affecting the human condition”. In the same
fashion, Mauricio Merino regards the book as “clearly normative and
ethically prescriptive. This is to say, that it does not only reveals the
personal experience of the author, but also his demand for explicit
ethical commitments among public officers and for those who are
part of the State structure”.
Consequently, this volume constitutes a significant contribution to the
critical literature on government and also a reference for research
and teaching activities.
DR © 2011. instituto Nacional de Administración Pública