The Importance of Ethics in Shaping Public Leaders
Ethics are the moral principles that influence a person’s behavior and conduct. Public leaders must serve a majority and are required to act responsibly and be aware that their actions will affect many people. It is therefore important that anyone appointed to serve the public remains ethical in his actions. When our leaders in public service are not morally competent in their actions and engage in unethical behavior and conduct, the nature of public service becomes irresponsible, lacking integrity, incompetent and corrupt when working for the people (Sirswal, 2014). Ethics is important in public administration because it provides accountability and creates a standard of professionalism that civil servants in the public sector should expect from each other and also the standard that the public should expect from leaders.
The first change implemented to curb corruption used management concepts. Those concepts included awarding contracts to those with lower bids, prohibiting conflict of interest in administration, thorough auditing of records, and using a council-manager government. The second change was to have better government service through a workable civil service system where administrators are nonpartisan and are elected. These reforms were carried out to reduce corruption and what we would today refer to as ethics (Frederickson, Rohr, 2015). Corruption in Public Administration Ethics in public administration or the government has the same purpose as the changes made in the early twentieth century. Moral conduct of people in a place is defined by the use of ethics. Such ethics depend on the ideologies of a certain group.
Moreover, it is very important for public administration to have ethics. However, it is sometimes challenging to adhere to the code of ethics, and failure to obey the guidelines provided should be met with reasonable punishment. There is always a tendency to expect an analysis of improper ethical conduct and actions in the field of public administration (Cerwson, 1997). There were historical, philosophical and legal reasons for having ethics in universities (Lee, 2014). Administrative Ethics According to Sirswal (2014), doing what is right and acting on what is right is referred to as ethics. Under this, people think systematically about conduct and morals thus imposing judgments on right or wrong. Unethical behavior of public officers working under various government agencies often undermine the confidence that the people have in these administrators.
Additionally, ethical scandals at several points of the public administration usually lead to suspicion among those who create the public policies, as well as those who implement them. Ethical study and evaluation have also looked at how individuals in the civil and public service conduct themselves. Ethics is important in public administration because it provides accountability and creates a standard of professionalism that civil servants in the public sector should expect from each other and also the standard that the public should expect from leaders. Determinants of Ethics in Public Administration The first determinant of ethics in public administration is the political construct that civil servants form a part of because political influences impact the way things are done in a country (Radhika, 2012).
Public administration is influenced by the politics of the day. This is because civil servants usually implement what is passed by elected politicians. Those who commit ethical wrongs should be punished in a manner prescribed by the legal and regulatory framework that is available. The legal system should be robust and flexible to allow for any changes that may be needed. The public system changes with changes in the society, economy and political structure. Therefore, the legal framework should be modified to include all ethical aspects that arise as a result of any change. The third factor that influences ethics in public administration is the public employees and administrators who are charged with the responsibility of discharging public services (D. They have the right to report and raise concern about any unethical behavior in public service.
With a public community that is vocal about what is expected from administrators, ethics would be maintained in public administration. People can report corrupt officials to the authorities and also point out state departments they see are underperforming or failing to meet the expected level of public service (Radhika, 2012). Challenges A major challenge in public administration is cases of corruption and bribery. Corruption exists in government departments and common businesses in America (Frederickson and Rohr, 2015). Government facilities have a problem of usually being undermanned. Hospitals, disaster, management teams and schools typically experience an over demand for their services. Human population is growing daily, and it is only reasonable that the government employs more people in the public sector to handle the increase in population.
Stretching the use of the available resources to suit everyone does not result in better services but poor service delivery. Background of Leadership in Public Administration Leadership is a critical aspect of today’s society. Public administration comprises all the operations whose aim is to enforce the federal policy as formulated by the policymakers. Moreover, public administration has long been defined as a detailed and systematic use of the law. However, one can further argue that leadership in public administration is all about the rules, policies, regulations, and practices that are in action to acquire a specific objective. The Beginning of the Role of Public Leadership The need for public order, health and safety gave rise to the need for leadership.
The quality and nature of leadership is a determinant of public administration. It is very difficult to put the needs of others before yours, but this is what ethical leaders do (Sirswal, 2014). The need for more leaders in public sectors does not translate to better governance but it is the nature of our leaders that determines the quality of public service we get (Sirswal, 2014). Leadership leads to proper management and organization efficiency in performance. Leaders in the public sector are given the mandate to ensure that institutions run smoothly and achieve their objectives. For work to move without hitches, leaders in public administration should ensure that human resource management principles are upheld in selection and recruitment. The authors suggest that participation should understand that there are many ways to look at situations and a diverse group can come together to produce outcomes.
According to the article “Politicians, Managers, and street-level bureaucrats: Influences on policy implementation. Journal of public administration research and theory” by May and Winter (2007) good management is built on Ethics. The authors of this article look at the influence of bureaucrats on policy-making and implementation. The article finds that there is much more influence from caseworkers encouraging jobs to be completed by the norm than politicians influencing the way policy is shaped. Public administration ethics serves as a reminder that the actions and decisions of officials are based on the principle of working for and serving the citizens rather than themselves. Public administration ethics is founded on the notion that employees and government officials are stewards of the public. The American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) which is a national association of government scholars and managers in public administration provides a list of ethical guidelines which is found in its code of conduct (Hall, 2017).
They require that every ASPA member adheres to the set guidelines in the code of conduct and are committed to serving matters of public interest, promoting ethical organizations, upholding the constitution and the law and always striving for personal excellence (Hall, 2017). Michael E. Respecting the Law For a democratic government to work efficiently, it must operate within the realms of the law. The legal and regulatory framework of a nation sets the boundaries within which government actions should confide (Gordon, Milakovich, 2015). The American Society for Public Administration code of ethics requires civil servants to apply laws that affect their profession and struggle to improve the counterproductive policies and rules. The code of conduct also calls on public administrators to support financial audits of government agencies, implement procedures for handling public finances and protect any privileged information.
Civil servants are also required to apply constitutional principles of equality, fairness and due process (Gordon, Milakovich, 2015). Those who serve in the bureaucracy are either appointed or hired due to their expertise and qualifications in disseminating the programs and functions of the government. The effective functioning of the arms of the government is relied upon by modern society for the provision of public goods and services, stimulating economic growth and improving the quality of life. The bureaucracy is subject and not limited to ensure the delivery of government promises effectively (Frederickson and Rohr, 2015). For instance, the Affordable Care Act which was introduced by the federal government to ensure every American could afford quality healthcare should be administered by ethically minded professionals otherwise the project would fail (Sullivan, 2012).
Some of the activities the governments through the bureaucracy are charged with include taxation, education, healthcare, foreign affairs, immigration and homeland security (Frederickson and Rohr, 2015). Citizens are more interested in values and not the rules. There are several ethical issues which arise in public administration. They include conflicts of interest, political partisanship, and confidentiality of information of valuable public administration records (Trotter, Van Wart and Wang, 2008). People in public service have many responsibilities to the voters and the laws that give them the power to administer government policies to the people. Those in public administration are also required to be accountable to the cabinet secretaries and ministers who are at the summit of the political departments they manage. Those in management or senior positions in public administration should ensure that everyone abides by the rules in government institutions (Miller, 2010).
They should also be held accountable for the actions of those they have given the mandate in lower positions of government. For instance since December 2016, eight legislators have had to step down because of malfeasance and sex scandals in Oklahoma (Bailey, 2017). Their resignation is as a result of pressure that is being put on them by the public and legal authorities for lack of ethics in their duties. Training and Education There should also be an introduction of training and education seminars to ensure that everyone is made aware of what is expected. It should be done at departmental levels and the job group one is in service delivery. This is because each government department is tasked with delivering different goods and services to the people.
There are certain ethical problems that will be met in each government department ("Ethics Training for Public Officials," 2013). The Public Having an attentive public is also necessary to ensure that those in government administration remain ethical in carrying out their duties. This is because if the public fails to raise concern with certain issues in public administration they do not like some civil servants may exploit such opportunities for their own benefit (Hall, 2017). The judiciary is an important mechanism in maintaining law and order. The separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary has ensured that those given public work are liable to punishment if they are found to have committed an unethical offense (Lee, 2014). Case of Nigeria’s Public Sector Adebayo Adeyinka (2014) examines ethics issues in the public services sector in Nigeria.
In his report, we can see that ethics is gaining ground in state organizations that serve the public. The paper focuses on unethical behaviors among the public and civil servants in Nigeria. Moral decadence is a disease that should be addressed in government, private and public organizations if we want to promote good governance. Nigeria should also reward those who show outstanding ethical and moral behaviors in the public sector. This will encourage others in the civil sector to carry themselves in proper and accepted standards. Ethical Dilemmas in Public Administration Ethical dilemmas provide a challenge for those in public administration (Denhardt, 1988). They are always caught in situations that are tempting, and one does not know the best option at the moment.
Civil servants and state officials succumb to embarrassment because of making wrong choices when faced with confusion during encounters with ethical dilemmas (Hart, 1961). Public administration usually degenerates into states of indeterminacy and confusion when faced with such situations instead of functioning as organized machinery in disposing of public functions. This is usually blamed for the lack of values among the administering values. They are seen not to have the necessary guiding values for their choices and actions (Hart, 1961). Impact of Ethics According to Cooper (2011), ethics leads to good governance because leaders are aware of their roles and they will ensure they carry their duties with transparency, integrity and accountability. Civil servants have to act according to the orders given by ministers as long as the law is not circumvented when acting to deliver government services.
Legal Imperative The law gives every government employee clear rules and guidelines about how one should carry his duties (Radhika, 2012). Government actions have now become legitimate because they are done according to the boundaries of the law. Public and civil servants are aware of the legal requirements when it comes to service delivery. In the past, a weak legal system had made the government departments susceptible of wrongdoings. Bailey (1964) demands that once the law is followed in the discharge of public services, there will be no injustice and partial delivery of services since power is not abused. Aristotle claimed that the law is supreme in the eyes of the public and should not be interfered ("Introduction: Leadership and Philosophy,") The Integrity Imperative Ethics has led to a rise in integrity in public administration (Cooper, 2001).
Professional ethics have been adopted in public administration, and this has led to studying about administration and designing its scope and influencers. Integrity determines ethics in public administration. European nations have taken measures that make the government a professional body. Public servants are charged with the responsibility of managing resources that are aimed at benefiting society, and their use is accounted through surveys and electoral programs to meet the set objectives. There face problems just like in any work and such challenges should be managed in because the risks involved would affect the public if not stopped. Education and training in public administration continue to face a range of challenges in institutions around the globe. First, there are not many students who are enrolling in public administration courses at university level.
Majority of students are either in engineering or business courses. Poor recruiting strategies lead to a rise in training and development costs. Training and education can foster ethics in public administration. However, we should not have a high training expenditure because the people appointed in the public service are inadequately trained. The president is given the power to appoint people to serve serious dockets in the government. Giving one person such authority is unfair since this country has a population of more than 300 million people. The same is for public administration as they serve the interest of the public. Business growth should be done according to the realms of the law (Sirswal, 2014). Organizations should not operate illegally so that they can achieve an advantage over their competitors.
Business growth is also subject to proper accounting and auditing. They are instances when business leaders provide fake accounts to appease the interested stakeholders like the owners and creditors because they lack professional ethics. This will minimize any chances of unethical behavior because public servants feel they are valued and will serve competently (Hall, 2017) Followership Perry and Wise (1990) defined public service motivation as an individual’s predisposition to react to motives that would benefit the public. This definition emphasized on the motives that compassion and civic duty are commonly associated with public administrations. When leaders are elected into the legislature by the electorate, it is because of the manifesto that they promised to work on once elected and sworn to serve the public.
They cannot deliver to the public without the assistance of civil servants and other recruited staff into public institutions (Perry & Wise, 2017). Perry and Wise (1990) believe that motivation in the public service originates from the beliefs that motives to do good to the people. One should also be well educated and know various branches of education. For one to show authority in leadership, he must be able to dictate any relevant information to his followers. Leaders should not associate with unethical persons as they will tarnish their image and also make their followers think that they too are unethical in their operations (Sirswar, 2014). Ideals and Beliefs According to Syara (2008), the behavior of public administration may partially be due to the ideals and values they were raised to believe.
Leaders have the responsibility of training their employees and change their mental attitude so that they can deliver quality services (Syara, 2018). Public leaders should motivate civil servants (Schraeder, Tears, & Jordan, 2005). They can change the negative attitude in civil servants and motivate them in delivering quality service. Leaders must walk the talk by setting an example that should be followed by everyone. Leaders should not expect public servants to change their behavior and habits if they themselves are not willing to do so. Leaders should first make the same changes and display the actions they expect their team to follow. Education lays the foundation for social-economic development and it is necessary that education gives people an understanding of public administration and why ethics is necessary.
We should also implement professional development in public administration. Those who are given jobs in the civil service should continuously be mentored so that they can develop the appropriate skills, behavior, and mentality when performing their duties. The structure of the civil service in most countries changes with the change in government. After new administrations and regimes come in place, the civil service should be educated through seminars and workshops on what the new administration requires from them. The sense of togetherness no longer exists. People are usually doing what they do to serve their own interests. The poor social fabric is reflected in our public administration as people serve the public without due diligence and care. If we develop a society that upholds moral behavior and condones immorality and poor social-economic themes our public service will normally be in the hands of ethically competent individuals.
It is important to have ethics in public administration as they play a critical role. There needed a new balance between society, economy, politics, culture and our values. This balance is what dictates our moral conduct when we interact either in informal and formal situations. Our nature and nurture affect our ideas and beliefs. For the public sector to become dominant in reliability, efficiency, and effectiveness in its operations, it must harness society’s positive factors and move away from negative issues in society. The acceptance of ethics in public administration has laid down the foundation necessary to ensure that proper governance which is accountable is always available. International journal of social sciences and humanity, 4(5). American Society for Public Administration. Code of ethics and implementation guidelines.
Washington, DC: ASPA. Anechiarico, J. com/article/5566983/lawmaker-resignations-cause-growing-special-election-costs-for-state Bailey, S. K. Ethics and the Public Service. Public Administration Review, 24(4), 234. doi:10. Public service motivation: building empirical evidence of incidence and effect. Journal of public administration research and theory 4 (499-518). Cohen, S. , Eimcke, W. Ethics and the public administrator. doi:10. 5897/jpapr11. 049 Denhardt, K. G. The ethics of public service: Resolving moral dilemmas in public organizations. Giaclone, R. , Jurkiewicz, C. Critical theory as practice: ambivalence and contradiction. Critical theory ethics for business and public administration). Information Age Publishing, Charlotte NC. com/info-8014104-public-administration-ethics. html Helms, L (2017) Oxford Research Encyclopedias. Leadership and public administration. Retrieved on September 19, 2017 from http://politics. oxfordre. Ethics and public administration. Innes, J. , Booher, D. Reframing public participation: strategies for the 21st century.
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