Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Compare and contrast key approaches toward public administration as detailed in assigned readings.?Evaluate these approaches according to required readings and presentat - EssayAbode

Compare and contrast key approaches toward public administration as detailed in assigned readings.?Evaluate these approaches according to required readings and presentat

Compare and contrast key approaches toward public administration as detailed in assigned readings. Evaluate these approaches according to required readings and presentations for this week and a Biblical/covenantal model of statesmanship, leadership and organizational behavior. Consider the relevance of these approaches to your academic and professional work in public administration.

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The Profession of Public Administration: An Ethics Edge in Introductory Textbooks?

Author(s): James S. Bowman, Evan M. Berman and Jonathan P. West

Source: Public Administration Review , Mar. – Apr., 2001, Vol. 61, No. 2 (Mar. – Apr., 2001), pp. 194-205

Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Society for Public Administration

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James S. Bowman Florida State University

Evan M. Berman University of Central Florida

Jonathan P. West

University of Miami

The Profession of Public Administration:

An Ethics Edge in Introductory Textbooks?

Given the substantial interest in public service ethics, this study examines its foundations as re- flected in paradigmatic textbooks-a unit of analysis that informs both theory and practice in the

field. The interpretative framework employed evaluates the context (the amount and placement of the topic, the use of graphics, and sources cited) as well as the content (conceptualization of management ethics and inclusion of implementation issues) of ethics found in the publications. A limited definition of a professional-one in possession of largely technical skills- is reflected in the textbooks. The implications of the findings are explored.

The ethics boom ignited by Watergate has echoed

throughout the corridors of government and the halls of

academe for more than a generation after the Nixon presi-

dency. Rather than dissipating through the years, the ech-

oes seem to intensify. In the practice of public affairs, the

result has been sensational revelations, numerous investi-

gations, new laws, and chastened officials and agencies.

Within the study of public administration, national ethics conferences have been convened, course offerings have

been expanded, and a growing literature has been created

(Bowman and Menzel 1998). Quite clearly, moral consid-

erations are of fundamental importance to the quality of

democracy and its administration-the soul of modem

public administration (Frederickson 1996).

Given the considerable interest in the topic, this study examines the attention introductory public administration

textbooks devote to it. These volumes define the proper area and focus of a discipline, its paradigm and essential ele-

ments (Kuhn 1970); they also likely affect how ethics is

presented in the classroom (if it is).' Since standards of prac-

tice are inherent in professional life, such self portraits re- veal the nature of the commitment made to excellence in

both technical competence and moral character. Indeed, the distinguishing characteristic or edge of a professional (Berman et al. 1998) is not merely the possession of exper-

tise, but also a dedication to ethical practice. How this com-

194 Public Administration Review * March/April 2001, Vol. 61, No. 2

mitment is fulfilled, especially in light of recent evidence

demonstrating the value of ethics training and education (for

example, Bruce 1998; Menzel 1997), has important impli-

cations for the profession and the public it serves.

James S. Bowman is a professor of public administration at the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy, Florida State University. His primary area is human resource management. Noted for his work in ethics and qual- ity management, he has also done research in environmental administra- tion. He is editor in chief of Public Integrity, a journal sponsored by the American Society for Public Administration, the International City/County Management Association, the Council on Governmental Ethics Law, and the Council on State Governments. He is coauthor of Human Resource Manage- ment in the Public Service: Paradoxes, Processes, and Problems with Evan Berman, Jonathan West, and Montgomery Van Wart (Sage, 2001). Email: [email protected].

Evan M. Berman is an associate professor in the Department of Public Ad- ministration at the University of Central Florida (Orlando). He is active in the American Society for Public Administration and is the 1998-2000 chair of the Section of Personnel and Labor Relations. He serves on the editorial boards of Public Administration Review and the Review of Public Personnel Admin- istration. His most recent books include Human Resource Management in the Public Service (Sage, 2001), The Ethics Edge (International City/County ManagementAssociation, 1998), andPublic Sector Performance (Westview, 1999). Email: [email protected].

Jonathan P. West is a professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and director of the graduate public administration program in the School of Business Administration at the University of Miami. His research interests include human resource management, productivity, local govern- ment, and ethics. His most recent books are Quality Management Today (1 995) and The Ethics Edge (1 998), both published by ICMA, and Ameri- can Politics and the Environment with Glen Sussman and Byron Daynes (Longman, in press). He is the managing editor of Public Integrity. Email: [email protected].

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It should be noted that no formal standards exist for the

scope or content of ethics in public administration educa-

tion; the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs,

Policy, and Administration (1992) requires only that the

curriculum "enhance the student's values, knowledge, and

skills to act ethically and effectively" (3). Nevertheless,

textbooks discuss the topic, and it is therefore sensible to

ask what might and should be included.

The data reported here should be of interest to the en-

tire profession: those involved in standard setting and ac-

creditation (who could require reconsideration of this

essential subject), practicing managers (who sometimes

wonder about the efficacy of academic treatises, espe-

cially on ethics), book authors and their publishers (who

might need to review ethics coverage in their volumes),

and students and instructors (who may wish to check the

adequacy of the textbook they use). The investigation

begins with the identification of essential dimensions

comprising public service ethics. The conceptual frame-

work used in the research is then presented, followed by

the findings from the study, and concludes with a discus-

sion of the implications of the data.

Pillars of Ethics As Callender (1998) observes, "The sense of public ser-

vice, a strong emphasis on ethical behavior, a well-devel-

oped group identity, and well established professional bod- ies that support the ideals of public service all provide part

of the professional identity of the public service practitio-

ner" (1767). Clearly, those who aspire to such status need to buttress their mastery of specialized learning and mana-

gerial skills with ethical sensitivities and a commitment to public service. Given the central place of ethics in profes- sionalism, it is important to briefly canvass its role in cur-

rent public administration theory and practice. A body of literature has developed that goes beyond

values to be upheld and includes insights into ways ethics

can be understood and encouraged in oneself and others.

Specifically, there are four pillars of ethics: (1) value aware- ness; (2) reasoning skills; (3) the role of law; and (4) orga- nizational implementation (modified from Ozar 1998; West et al. 1998).

A near-consensus exists about the values that underpin public life: responsiveness, fairness, economy, integrity, and competence. While authors vary, virtually all believe that these values constitute administrative responsibility. Such norms are thought to promote citizen service and democracy as well as to avoid corruption that causes wide- spread distrust in government (Bell 1997; Cooper 1991; Lewis 1991).

A critical practical question is, how are officials to in-

corporate these values into individual actions and organi-

zational decision making? The second pillar, ethical rea-

soning, can be illuminated using Kohlberg's stages of moral development. Stewart and Sprinthall (1993) find that ad-

ministrators (regardless of rank, age, gender, or race) are

more likely to achieve a high level of moral reasoning when

they are familiar with ethical problems and their context. Accordingly, helping managers frame issues and improve

policy making is the focus of an increasing number of eth-

ics workshops (International City/County Management

Association 1999). While, in the past, such training often

narrowly concentrated on certain values, adherence to le-

gal standards, and avoidance of wrongdoing, today's ef-

forts promote value-centered decision-making processes.

These workshops include scenarios, role-plays, and

group activities that provide in-depth information about

cases and simulate the workplace (Killilea, Pasquerella,

and Vocino 1998; Nelson and Van Hook 1998). Typically,

decision making involves a three-step process of fact gath-

ering, analysis, and problem resolution. Managers are sen-

sitized to ethical warning signs (such as, "no one will ever

know" or "everybody does it") and understanding conse-

quences of actions (Does the proposed action violate an ethical code? My personal values? Those of the commu- nity? Does it harm someone else? Would I be comfortable

explaining it on television?) Third, managers are expected to comply with ethics laws

covering financial disclosure, post-employment, private gain from public office, preferential treatment, impartial- ity, and public trust. Little is known about the effective- ness of these statutes, but what is known suggests that the laws, and the ethics commissions that investigate viola-

tions, are insufficient to ensure exemplary behavior (Dobel 1993; Smith 1999; Williams 1996, 1999). Legal compli- ance is not adequate to avoid wrongful conduct, and fos- tering proper behavior requires ongoing initiatives relevant to daily management (Menzel 1999).

Fourth, beyond training aimed at individuals are pro-

grams to nurture ethics across the organization. Some sug- gest that a key to creating an ethical climate is moral lead- ership (Berman, West, and Cava 1994; Cooper and Wright, 1992; Moore and Sparrow 1990). Brower (1999), for ex- ample, paraphrases Shakespeare, all men are but players on stage, to explain how managers model and employees learn behavior. Other studies (Brumback 1991; Menzel and Carson 1999) suggest that leadership is most effective in conjunction with efforts such as incorporating ethical con- cern into the personnel systems (from selection through training to evaluation), adopting an ethics code, and re- quiring compliance with pertinent laws. At present, the challenge is to persuade organizations that they can im- pact ethical behavior and that this can be done through a multifaceted approach. This is made easier by empirical

research revealing a positive relationship between ethics

The Profession of Public Administration: An Ethics Edge in Introductory Textbooks? 195

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and performance (Berman, West, and Cava 1994; Bruce

1994; Burke and Black 1990; Menzel 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996a, 1996b, 1999). There is also evidence that this be-

havior affects responsible risk taking and community per- ceptions of organizations, although the nexus between

employee behavior and community trust is difficult to

firmly establish (Berman and West 1997, 1998).

In short, the tenets of public service ethics include value

awareness, reasoning skills, law, and implementation strat-

egies. These foundational elements are adapted and ap-

plied below to inform the conceptual framework used in

this inquiry.

The Study Included here are 12 elementary public administration

textbooks from 1995-99 (see appendix).2 As noted, these

works are an appropriate barometer because they certify

the significance of ethics in the profession. The next sec-

tion reports raw data on the context of the ethics material

in the publications: the amount and placement of the topic,

key values and laws, the use of graphics, and sources

cited.3 The five-part interpretive framework below evalu-

ates the content of ethics coverage found in the texts. The

first three categories focus on the components of ethics

in public administration-why it is significant, what it

is, and how it is presented-and speak to the value aware-

ness and reasoning skills components of the foundational

elements previously discussed. The last two rubrics

specify how the books conceptualized the management

of ethics in public agencies, and concerns found in carry- ing out ethics programs; these dimensions pertain to the

role of law and organizational implementation aspects of

the foundational elements.

(1) The stated (or implied) importance of the topic

(the nature of the justification for inclusion in

the textbook).

(2) The definition of ethics (the presence of a clear

explanation of the term).

(3) The descriptive or normative style of the dis-

cussion (the objective or subjective quality of the narrative).

(4) The use of a legal compliance or individual/or-

ganizational development approach (conformity to imposed standards to penalize misconduct or

participatory creation of standards to enable re- sponsible behavior) in providing decision-mak-

ing guidance.

(5) The presentation of implementation techniques and issues (an analysis of ways ethical norms

and practices are transmitted, and the desirabil-

ity as well as feasibility of so doing).

196 Public Administration Review a March/April 2001, Vol. 61, No. 2

While the taxonomy facilitates the task at hand, it is cer-

tainly not definitive; the five classifications are, however, reasonable and useful for exploratory purposes. We inde-

pendently evaluated the textbooks; ambiguous cases were

discussed and resolved. Since the purpose is to provide an

overview of the general treatment of ethics, individual text-

books are not evaluated separately. However, examples from

the database are used to illustrate the inquiry.



By definition, an introductory textbook (with an aver-

age length of 500 pages) typically presents parameters of

the profession by devoting chapters to a broad scope of

public administration topics-the political environment,

history of the field, organization theory, human resource

management, planning-implementation-evaluation, bud-

geting and finance, policy decision making, and so forth.

The ethics chapter(s), not necessarily so designated (see

appendix), is placed at or near the end of six of the books,

close to the beginning in three, and in both locations in

one. It constitutes an average of 6 percent (332 of 5478

pages) of the 10 textbooks that have separate ethics chap-

ters. In addition, many of the publications (including two

that have no chapter-length treatments) have several rel-

evant, often short, sections elsewhere; when included, the

total attention given to ethics is 7 percent in all 12 books

(473 of 6450 pages).

Most textbooks identify prominent laws and values in

these discussions. Among the former, the most frequently

cited include the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, the

Freedom of Information Act of 1967, the Civil Service

Reform Act of 1978, the Whistleblower Protection Act of

1989, the Administrative Procedures Act of 1946 followed

by the Hatch Act of 1939, the False Claims Act of 1986,

and the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993. Oft-noted values are accountability, responsibility, honesty,

benevolence, public interest, respect for law, fairness (for

example, trust, consistency, truthfulness, integrity, impar- tiality), equity, loyalty, democracy, representativeness, ef- ficiency, and merit. Commonly found index listings in the volumes are terms such as administrative responsibility,

codes, conflicts of interest, legality, professionalism, val-

ues, Watergate, and whistleblowing.

The books had slightly less than two charts or tables

(most often a code of ethics or a narrative case), although three had ten or more such exhibits (Garvey 1997; Shafritz

and Russell 1997; Starling 1998;), and two included pho- tos or cartoons (Shafritz and Russell 1997; Starling 1998). The chapters were substantiated by an average of 32 sources

(ranging from 4 to over 50) plus an additional readings

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section in four cases. These citations comprised a wide

variety of sources (philosophers, politicians, novelists,

scholars, government agencies, newspapers),4 but rarely

incorporated empirical research (save Henry 1999). With

these descriptive background data in hand, it is now time

to turn to the actual content of the literature.


Using the conceptual framework outlined earlier, the

rationale for considering ethics, its definition, as well as

the style of presentation, is shown below. Then the focus

shifts to how the books perceived the management of eth-

ics in agencies and whether implementation issues were


Importance. All the publications (in an ethics chapter,

section, an exhibit, a preface, or elsewhere) had either a

stated or implied justification for including the topic (re-

spectively, Berkley and Rouse 1997; Denhardt with Grubbs

1999; Fesler and Kettl 1996; Gordon and Milakovich 1998; Henry 1999; McKinney and Howard 1998; versus Cooper

et al. 1998; Johnson 1996; Rosenbloom 1998; Shafritz and

Russell 1997; Starling 1998).

These rationales, with interpolation, were corruption

prevention, decision making, or role definition. Three au-

thors noted, first, the importance of preventing corruption.

The key issue for one is the question "Who guards the

guardians?" with an explicit focus on accountability in

order to understand why some abuse the public trust

(Rosenbloom 1998,529-30). Another notes the importance of morality by emphasizing the detrimental effects cor-

ruption has on the political and social structure of the na-

tion; ethics is therefore central to deter corrupt behavior

(Shafritz and Russell 1996, 592-6). The heavy burden of accountability and untoward problems is again implied by

Garvey (1997, 305-13) who indicates that the study of eth- ics is necessary to avoid undesirable actions; moral de-

mands are imposed on the individual public servant and must be dealt with.

Regarding the second rationale, decision making, one author takes a neutral, pragmatic stance by indicating that ethics can lead to making quicker, better, and more consis-

tent judgments (Starling 1998). Most, however, go beyond this and articulate an important consequence of corrup- tion: the reintroduction of ethics into public affairs and the

reaffirmation of it as central to the lives and role definition.

(the third rationale) of professional managers (for instance,

Cooper et al. 1998, vii). Thus, Denhardt with Grubbs (1999) state, "every ac-

tion of every public official … carries value implications" (115) and "establishing a proper ethical basis for public

action is itself one of the most important challenges fac-

ing the public service" (425). This includes, according to

Gordon and Milakovich (1998), "defining, establishing,

and maintaining a high level of ethical behavior … (to)

… enhance workforce effectiveness, improve employee

morale, and promote better public relations" (41), a view-

point echoed in an exhibit provided by Berkley and Rouse

(1997, 371). Henry (1999) opines that "Public adminis- tration is a profession of large responsibilities and moral

choices, and ethical obligations will always be an inte-

gral part of these responsibilities" (472). Since officials

are expected to model leadership, they need a clear moral

framework to deal with ethical challenges if the public is

to be served (McKinney and Howard 1998, 4). "Nothing

is more basic to the role definition of the public adminis-

trator," according to Fesler and Kettl (1996, 367), than the two elements of bureaucratic responsibility: account-

ability and ethical behavior.

Definition. How, then, do the textbooks interpret eth-

ics? Reflecting the eclectic nature of these chapters, as

well as the putative ambiguity of the term itself, most

do not attempt a formal textbook-like definition. Four

of the 12 volumes (Berkley and Rouse 1997; Garvey

1997; Henry 1999; Johnson 1996) provide no explana- tion at all (although the latter briefly describe several

philosophical approaches). Another four (Cooper et al.

1998, 75, 95; McKinney and Howard 1998, 14; Rosenbloom 1998, 529-30; Starling 1998, 186;) prof-

fer, respectively, brief statements about a moral com-

pass, self-accountability, studying values, or a "subjec- tive force" as definitions.

A third group, while not clarifying the word ethics, does

explain closely related terms. Two books discuss ethical behavior as "emphasizing personal honesty and integrity

(that) calls for avoiding personal gain that results from the fulfillment of one's duties" (Gordon and Milakovich 1998,

42), and as "adherence to moral standards and avoidance

of even the appearance of unethical actions (Fesler and Kettl 1996, 367). Likewise, Shafritz and Russell (1997), in a book containing many formal definitions, do not de- fine honor or ethics in their "Honor and Ethics" chapter.

They do, however, furnish a thorough literary treatment of the former as well as a definition-like hierarchy (personal,

professional, organizational, societal) of the latter. One volume, however, unambiguously provides a com-

prehensive definition of ethics as "a systematic attempt

through the use of reason to make sense of our individual and social moral experience in such a way as to deter- mine the rules which ought to govern moral conduct" (Denhardt with Grubbs 1999, 116 quoting DeGeorge). In short, while there are a variety of negative, neutral, and affirmative reasons offered for including ethics in these volumes, the term is not usually clearly explicated. With

this in hand, is the subject matter itself presented in a

generally descriptive-objective or normative-subjective

style, or in a blend of both?5

The Profession of Public Administration: An Ethics Edge in Introductory Textbooks? 197

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Presentation Style. Half of the volumes supply a bal- anced treatment between sheer factual narrative and value-

laden opinion (Denhardt with Grubbs 1999; Gordon and

Milakovich 1998; Henry 1999; Johnson 1996; Shafritz and Russell 1996; Starling 1998). While such coverage con- tains clear instances of both outright description and value

judgements at selected points, the typical approach is to examine, in some detail, the value of administrative re-

sponsibility (for instance), but level that with a discussion

of the importance of readers adhering to proper standards (Starling 1998, 169ff.).

Those less likely to provide this type of presentation

include Berkley and Rouse (1997); Cooper et al. (1998);

Rosenbloom (1998); Fesler and Kettl (1996); and Garvey (1997). For instance, Berkley and Rouse (1997, 371) in- sert a short, normative, free-standing exhibit on the im-

portance of honesty and how to nurture ethical leadership in an otherwise descriptive narrative on administrative law, discretion, and inter

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