The field of Public Administration has roots in ancient history. The kings, pharaohs, and emperors of antiquity required educated, literate people to keep records and carry out the practicalities of government. The need for administrators grew during the Age of Imperialism as empires grew and monarchs needed a higher volume of documentation created and organized.
One of the first people to contribute to public administration was Shen Buhai, a Chinese statesman and chancellor of the Han state. He is seen as one of the first contributors to the merit system, the concept of granting a person a position based on skill, not familial or societal connections. This was revolutionary in a time when most governmental positions were passed on hereditarily.
Another contributor to public administration was King Frederick William I of Prussia. He created an educational system that trained public administrators, adding greatly to the number of individuals qualified to work within government.
Austrian professor Lorenz von Stein, too, changed the field. Public administration was originally limited simply to administrative law, but Von Stein redefined it as a science. He claimed public administrators applied the scientific method in their work and had to be skilled in finance, politics, and sociology.