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Organisational use

In some organisational analyses, administration can refer to the bureaucratic or operational performance of mundane office tasks, usually internally oriented. It thus stands distinct from management, and attracts lower pay rates and lower prestige. It also stands distinct from productive or executive work, and attracts opprobrium accordingly.

Business use

In business, administration consists of the performance or management of transactions and other matters, and the making and implementing of major decisions. Administrator can serve as the title of the General Manager who reports to a corporate board of directors.

In United Kingdom business law administration can occur when an outside party (an administrator) comes in to try and rescue a company in difficulty. Various authorities may appoint an administrator:

  • the Courts (on application from a creditor, directors or partners)
  • the holder of a qualifying floating charge over the assets of the business
  • the company itself
  • the directors of the company concerned

Legal use

In the United States, the term administration often refers to the executive branch under a specific president (or sometimes governor, mayor, or other local executive), for example: the "Bush administration". (Most other countries use the analogous term government.) It can also mean an Executive branch agency headed by an administrator: these agencies tend to have a regulatory function as well as an administrative function.

Another sense involves the administration (giving or tendering) of the sacraments, justice, oaths, medicines (see route of administration), etc.

In the United Kingdom, administration can refer to the British law for the dividing-up or disposal of the estate of a deceased person (see will).

Since the Land Transfer Act of 1897, the administrator acts as the real as well as the personal representative of the deceased, and consequently when the estate under administration consists wholly or mainly of realty the court will grant administration to the heir to the exclusion of the next of kin. In the absence of any heir or next of kin the Crown has the right to the personalty as bona vacantia, and to the realty by escheat. If a creditor claims and obtains a grant, the court compels him or her to enter into a bond with two sureties that he or she will not prefer his or her own debt to those of other creditors.

Letter of Administration : Upon the death of a person intestate or leaving a will without appointing executors, or when the executors appointed by the will cannot or will not act, the Probate Division of the High Court must appoint an administrator who performs the duties of an executor. The court does this by granting letters of administration to the person entitled. Grants of administration may be either general or limited. A general grant occurs where the deceased has died intestate. The order in which the court will make general grants of letters follows the sequence:

  1. The husband, or widow, as the case may be;
  2. the next of kin;
  3. the crown;
  4. a creditor;
  5. a stranger.

The more important cases of grants of special letters of administration include the following:

Administration cum testamento annexo, where the deceased has left a will but has appointed no executor to it, or the executor appointed has died or refuses to act. In this case the court will make the grant to the person, usually the residuary legatee, with the largest beneficial interest in the estate.

Administration de bonis non administratis occurs in two cases:

  1. Where the executor dies intestate after probate without having completely administered the estate
  2. Where an administrator dies. In the first case the principle of administration cum testamento is followed, in the second that of general grants in the selection of the person to whom letters are granted.

Administration durante minore aetate, when the executor or the person entitled to the general grant is under age.

Administration durante absentia, when the executor or administrator is out of the jurisdiction for more than a year.

Administration pendente lite, where there is a dispute as to the person entitled to probate or a general grant of letters the court appoints an administrator till the question has been decided.


The word administration comes the Latin word, administrare, meaning to serve .

See also


Last updated: 02-05-2005 18:55:51
Last updated: 03-06-2005 02:37:33