What is difference between Generalist and Specialist in administration?


A generalist defined as a public servant who does not have a specialized background, and is easily transferable to any department or branch of government.

A generalist has also been defined as a civil servant, who belongs to the managerial class and who is well up in rules, regulations and procedure of administration and, who generally performs POSDCORB functions (i.e. Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing, Coordinating, Reporting and budgeting) on the other hand, by specialist is generally meant a person who has special knowledge or skill in a specific field, like agriculturists, physician, engineer, educationists etc.

The specialist can easily be distinguished on the basis of his education and training. The IIPA Conference on Personnel Administration attempted a detailed definition of the term “generalist officer” and “specialist or technical officer”.

The first is the practice of selecting “a bright young man” who has received a liberal college education (no matter in whatever subjects it may be) and after giving him an initial training in the field, appointing him to a middle level supervisory post for which an educational qualification in technical or professional subjects like engineering, medicine, etc., has not been prescribed as compulsory, and utilizing him, in due course, for appointments to higher administrative positions irrespective of his previous experience and training.

He is commonly termed as “generalist officer”. The second is the practice of appointing to a middle level supervisory post for which a technical or professional educational qualification has been prescribed as compulsory, a person who possesses this and of excluding him from areas, where his specialized knowledge or training may not find direct application. He is commonly known as a “specialist” or “technical officer”.

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