The book's conceptual framework is built upon an analysis of different varieties of rationality. A conception of political rationality is elaborated. First, orientations of contemporary administrative theory and research are analysed from the point of view of that rationality. Next, the same viewpoint is applied to an analysis of an entity called the 'administrative welfare state'. This concept is used to cover the typical institutional shape of the leading highly developed countries until the 1980s. The strengths and the weaknesses of the contemporary 'new public management' reforms are also evaluated from the point of view of political rationality. Finally, steps are taken to define elements of actual reform programmes in the terms of the political rationality.