Robson, William Alexander

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ROBSON, WILLIAM ALEXANDER (1895–1980), British political scientist. Born in London, Robson was the son of a pearl dealer and became the manager of one of Britain's first airports. There, he gave George Bernard Shaw his first ride in a plane in 1916, and, at Shaw's suggestion, went to the London School of Economics after he was demobilized from the Royal Air Force at the conclusion of World War i. Robson became a barrister in 1922 and lectured in administrative law at the London School of Economics from 1926 to 1947, when he was made professor of public administration. During World War ii he held senior administrative positions in government service, becoming assistant secretary to the Air Ministry in 1943.

Robson's writings were principally concerned with the problem of modernizing English administrative law, the bureaucracy, and local government in the era of the welfare state. He strongly favored the coordination of the academic study of administration and government with the realities of practical politics and was founder and editor (from 1930 to 1975) of the Political Quarterly, which was designed to serve this purpose. He was also the author of over 25 books on public administration including Justice and Administrative Law (19513), The Development of Local Government (19543), The Government and Misgovernment of London (19482), The Civil Service in Britain and France (1956), and Nationalized Industry and Public Ownership (19622). From 1952 to 1955 he was president of the International Political Science Organization.

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[Edwin Emanuel Gutmann]