There are four different principles or bases on which a department is organised. These principles are: 1. Functional Principle 2. Process Principle 3. Clientele Principle 4. Geographical Principle.
1. Functional Principle:
Where the department is organised on the basis of the nature of function or purpose, it is said to have been organised on functional principle. Examples of such departments are: Health, Human Resource Development, Labour and Employment, Transport and Information and Broadcasting, Community Development, Defence, Commerce and Industry, etc.
Advantages of Functional Basis:
The Haldane Committee Report 1919 in Britain summed up the advantages of functional basis in the following words:
“Upon what principles are the functions of the Departments to be determined and allocated? There appear to be only two alternatives which may be briefly described as distribution according to persons or classes to be dealt with, and distribution according to the services to be performed. Under the former method each minister…would be responsible to Parliament for those activities of the government which would affect the sectional interests of the particular class of persons, and there might be, for example, a ministry for paupers, or a ministry for the unemployed. Now, the inevitable outcome of this method of organization is a tendency to Lilliputian administration. It is impossible that the specialized services which each department has to render to the community can be of as high a standard when its work is at the same time limited to a particular class of persons and extended to every variety of provision for them, as when the department concentrates itself on the provision of one particular service only by whomsoever required, and looks beyond the interests of comparatively small class.”
“The other method, and the one we recommend for adoption is that of defining of the field of activity in case of each department according to the particular service it renders to the community as a whole….The method, of course, cannot be applied with absolute rigidity. The work of the education department, for example, may incidentally trench upon the sphere of health as in the arrangement of school houses and care for the health of scholars. Such incidental overlapping is inevitable and any difficulties to which it may give rise must be met by systematic arrangements for the collaboration of departments jointly interested. But notwithstanding such necessary qualifications, we think that much would be gained if the distribution of departmental duties was guided by a general principle and we have come to the conclusion that distribution according to the nature of the service to be rendered to the community as a whole is the principle which is likely to lead to the minimum amount of confusing and overlapping.”
Thus to briefly summarize, the advantages of the-functional principle are:
Advantages of the Principle:
(i) It will facilitate the performance of the given task because all the administrative units concerned with the job are within the same department and under the same direction.
(ii) It will eliminate the waste of time and energy which would occur if the relevant units were scattered. It will thus be economical.
(iii) Responsibility for failure can be fixed, e.g., if there is no peace and order in the country the Home Affairs Department can be held responsible for it
(iv) It reduces overlapping and duplication of work the minimum.
(v) It ensures better discipline because the personnel will be required to work as a unit under the direction and control of one chief officer.
(vi) It makes the administrative organisation easily intelligible to the citizen who can understand the broad purposes of the government. It simplifies his dealing with the administration, for he can know easily to which department to go if he has a complaint or a representation to make about some service.
Keeping in view these advantages, Hoover Commission commended organisation by major purpose. It remarked, “The numerous agencies of the executive branch must be grouped into departments as nearly as possible by major purposes in order to give a coherent mission to each department.”
The Study Team of Administrative Reforms Commission (1966-1970) called this principle as principle of rationality. According to the Commission’s Report “…The criterion of rationality is not applicable everywhere but where it is the grouping of subjects according to this principle can lead to the most effective type of coordination…”
The defects of the functional principle are:
(i) Function is an elastic term and can be interpreted too narrowly or too broadly and the problem of striking the correct balance between the two extremes becomes often difficult. Should health, education, public welfare be treated as separate functions and organized into separate departments, or should they be integrated into one Department of Public Welfare?
If the term function be interpreted too broadly, perhaps the whole work of the government would appear to be a single function, or if too narrow interpretation were placed on it, every bureau or division might be given departmental status.
(ii) Subordinate type of work may be neglected or ignored, e.g., the education department may not give the same importance to the health of the children as the health department would.
(iii) It may lead to departmentalization. The departments exaggerate the importance of their own work and are unable to see their department as a part of the larger whole.
(iv) There occurs some overlapping and duplication of work. Generally these are the incidental services which have to be duplicated.
2. Process Principle:
The word ‘Process’ means a technique or primary skill more or less specialized in nature, e.g., engineering, accounting, stenography, legal advice etc. Departments may be created on the basis of technical skill involved in the performance of the work.
Thus there are Department of Law, Department of Electronics, Department of Space and Department of Ocean Development.’ Departmentalization according to process brings together in a Department all those who have had similar professional training or who make use of the same or similar skill or equipment.
The advantages of Process Principle are:
(i) It facilitates the maximum amount of specialization and the best utilization of the up- to-date technical skill.
(ii) It secures economy by avoiding unnecessary duplication of personnel and equipment which would result if every department would maintain its technical services. Economy also results from the extensive use of labour-saving machinery which can be used with advantage only if there is adequate volume of work. Small and widely scattered units cannot afford such costly equipment.
(iii) It facilitates uniformity and coordination, e.g., if all engineering services are grouped together under one department, this would bring about uniformity in budgeting, operational plans, coordination and control.
(iv) It makes cost analysis and calculation of unit costs easier, and thus furnishes necessary data for budgeting and accounting.
(v) The process system is most advantageous for the development of career service.
The defects of the process principle are:
(i) It would make coordination difficult to achieve. Gulick has said that failure in one process department affects the whole enterprise and a failure to coordinate one process division may destroy the effectiveness of all of the work that is being done.
(ii) Good administration is not simply a matter of skill in the various technical processes. The government is concerned with the general welfare of the community, and for that purpose, it has to look after the economic, social and cultural interests.
Much of the work of the government has to be done, therefore, in the Social Welfare, Economic, and Educational, Home department than in the Engineering or Legal departments.
(iii) It attaches more importance to the means than to the ends. The object of public welfare gets lost in the process principle.
(iv) It may lead to financial extravagance than to economy.
(v) It may create the attitude of professional arrogance and lead to inter-departmental conflicts and rivalries.
(vi) Lastly, under the process principle the administration would lose the services of the generalist administrators. The heads of the departments would be technical people and there would be no place for generalists. The vision of a specialist is narrow and limited. At the top managerial posts we require people with breadth of vision and capacity for generalization.
3. Clientele Principle:
Sometimes some social groups have some special problems which require the particular attention of the government. When a department is established to meet the special problems of a section of community, the basis of such department is said to be clientele or persons served.
The department so constituted deals with all the problems of that particular section. Thus the Department for Scheduled Castes and Tribes is a department organised on clientele basis. In the U.S.A., the Veterans’ Administration, the Office of Indian Affairs and the Children’s Bureau are three good examples of clientele departments.
The main advantages of clientele organisation are:
(i) It greatly simplifies relationship of the groups concerned with the administration, e.g., if there be a farmers’ department, the farmer has to go to only one department to get any of his problems solved. He will not have to go to different departments for seeds, fertilizers, loan, cement, tube-wells, and tractors. All his needs will be looked after by one department.
(ii) It facilitates the coordination of several services provided for the beneficiary groups because such services are under the same department.
(iii) The staff of a clientele department develop the capacity to understand and solve whole problems instead of dealing with them in a fragmentary way.
(iv) It would develop behind the departments the support of the pressure groups because all the people who derive benefit from that department will belong to the same pressure group.
The defects of the clientele principle are:
(i) It is incapable of universal application. The number of people served is vast and it will be difficult to divide them into groups or it may create thousands of groups. This will produce a multiplicity of departments. Haldane Committee therefore termed it ‘Lilliputian administration’.
(ii) It would be a difficult job to clearly demarcate the jurisdiction of the various departments because the interests of one group may overlap those of others.
(iii) It militates against the principle of specialization. Being multi-functional each department will deal with heterogeneous problems of a group.
(iv) The pressure groups may make the department serve their own demands at the cost of the interests of the other groups. The vested interests may make the administrative reform difficult.
4. Geographical Principle:
Where territory or geographical area serves as the basis for the organisation of a department, it is called the geographical principle of departmental organisation. Thus the basis of Foreign Affairs Department is geographical. Then, within the Foreign Affairs department there are different territorial divisions, e.g., the European Division, the American Division, the South East Division, Near Eastern Affairs, Far Eastern Affairs.
Likewise the Ministry of Railways in India has over ten territorial zones viz. Eastern, North Eastern, North East Frontier, South Eastern, South Central Northern, Western Central and Southern. Even the Zonal Councils were organised on the basis of this principle.
Its merits are as follows:
(i) It facilitates the greater adaptation of policies to the needs of the areas concerned.
(ii) It is conducive to a better expression of the needs and aspirations of the people of various regions than any other.
(iii) It is the most suitable basis where long distance and the difficulties of communication are involved, e.g., in the administration of colonies by Imperial powers. The British Government had India Office to deal with all the problems of Indian administration.
(iv) In large countries having vast stretch of land and difficult communication, the territorial principle can be adopted for domestic administrative organisation. It leads to better coordination and more effective control over the services provided within the geographical area.
Its disadvantages are:
(i) It stands in the way of uniformity of administration of national policies. Different policies may have to be adopted for different areas.
(ii) It encourages localism at the cost of nationalism.
(iii) It sets up multifunctional departments and thus militates against the principle of specialization and division of labour.
(iv) It is likely to give birth to regional interests and pressure groups to the detriment of the national interest.
(v) The area requirements of the various services are different. India is, for instance, divided into four vast regions or commands for military administration and ten for railways. These administrative areas and their headquarters vary.
Adoption of geographical principle would mean that the same area or region irrespective of its adequacy or otherwise, would have to be adopted for all the services concentrated within such departments. This would result in inefficient arrangement, detrimental to administrative efficiency. To carry this to its logical conclusion could be to recreate Heptarchy.