SPA Professor E.S. Savas Makes History
Baruch Professor of Public Affairs E.S. Savas has been named one of the “Great Contributors to Public Administration” by Public Administration in the New Century. The text, authored by Jeffrey D. Greene, highlights the work of 12 20th century contributors within the field, beginning with Woodrow Wilson.
Savas, a leading proponent of privatizing the public sector, has been recognized in such exclusive company before. This year’s edition of Grover Starling’s classic, Managing the Public Sector, which chronologically covers a range of notable figures beginning with James Madison, lists Savas’ work as one of 41 “Highlights in the Intellectual History of American Public Administration.” An earlier edition of Starling’s text features 34 “Highlights in the History of Public Administration.” The broad scope of this edition starts with Plato, and likewise includes Savas’ valuable contributions to the field.
While working for Mayor Lindsey in New York City in the late 1960s, Savas discovered curious differences between the private and public provision of services—most importantly, that the private sector was significantly cheaper and more efficient than the public one. He attributed this to the lack of competition in public operations, which therefore acted effectively as “monopolies.”
Savas’ discoveries started the “great privatization debate” within public administration and economics. His groundbreaking empirical and theoretical work includes Privatization: The Key to Better Government, published in 1987 and one of the most influential books on the topic.
This year Savas published Privatization in the City: Successes, Failures, Lessons, continuing his journey as a pioneer in privatization research.
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