Generalist versus Specialist

Generalist versus Specialist: A ‘generalist’ means an amateur administrator who had education in linguistics or classics and is a highly intelligent man with certain personal qualities of character. While on the other hand, A ‘specialist’ is an expert who has devoted time and studies to a special branch of learning and has acquired specialized experience in tackling problems of particular subjects or areas. He is excluded from posting in areas where his specialized knowledge or training does not find direct application.

If the job is of highest importance say atomic / nuclear related and of defense related then obviously the job calls for a specialist not a generalist. However if the job requires the person need to have a good over all understanding of the circumstances then it calls for a generalist.

In Generalist versus Specialist, The major arguments in favour of generalists in Indian Administrator are are:

? India is a nation with multiple cultures and multi ethnicity and thus a person with liberal education and varied multifunctional experience is much better than the specialist who has deep knowledge of a very narrow field.
? It comes in direct contact with grassroots administration.
? Administration in India is organized on area basis and it requires a generalist administrator to coordinate the activities of various departments.
? By their education, training and experience, generalists have a broad view of problems facing the society; which the specialists lack.
? In a parliamentary democracy, ministers need a generalist to advice in policy matters as he is responsible to parliament and has to work for party.
? At higher level of administration, very little technical knowledge is required.
? When the specialists are required to do the job of a generalist, they lost both worlds. They neither remain specialists nor do they become good generalists.
? In any decision making process, technical inputs are taken from only a small part. Other matters like financial, administrative, political, legal etc. are more important. Generalists having a broad background of working in various departments are better suited to these jobs.
? In India, generalists are woven in entire fabric of administration and provide the necessary extension to its working.

In Generalist versus Specialist, The arguments in favour of specialist are:

? in the colonial period or even during early independence period the administrative tasks were relatively simple. But now it has become complex and cannot be comprehended by generalists,
? Specialists feel that generalist subjects not required to intervene between them and minister.In fact specialists have better knowledge of t subjects and can explain it better to the minister,
? Generalists always depend on advice of t specialists,
? The ARC of India (1969) recommended that the senior posts in functional areas should be held by specialist and non-functional posts should be thrown to all the cadres including specialism and generalists.

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