A Critique of Fred W. Riggs’ Ecology of Public Administration

Wen-shien Peng


Parsons once said that sociologists all critique Max Weber, but no one can do social research independently and scientifically without referring to Weber’s theories. By the same token, those who study comparative public administration will inevitably find reason to critique Fred W. Riggs’ “fused-prismatic-diffracted model”, but in conducting research, no one is free of Riggs’ influence. From the perspectives of heterogeneity, overlapping, formalism, and social transformation, the model observes particular characteristics in prismatic society. Even though the theory behind it needs refinement, it has exerted tremendous influence on the understanding of public administration and organizational behavior. This article’s general critique of Riggs’ theory is organized as follows: (1) achievements and contributions, and (2) limitationsand discussion.

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