Ethics in Public Sector

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Topics: Ethics
There has been considerable scientific debate on how to make the public sector function in the best way, and in particular there has been a debate on the role of government, of regulatory institutions and of good governance in the developing world. With (great) power comes (great) responsibility, but how much and what form of state intervention
(government regulation) is needed to achieve economic development, political accountability, poverty eradication and other objectives? This debate has given a better understanding of the responsibilities of the public sector, and how it should interact and interface with (elected) governments, with citizens, civil society and foreign as well as domestic corporations and private business institutions. Besides, ethics and ethical principles can help people make better decisions, and help people evaluate the decisions of others (like public officials). Much of this debate has focussed on “good governance”, broadly speaking. Ethics has also been a part of this debate, in particular the discussion on professional ethics of civil servants, and to a lesser extent the professional and personal ethics of politicians and elected office holders. Although the ethics of the civil service will be the main focus of this compendium, we are also looking into the ethics of the political sphere. Ethics has long been a controversial area of study in the professions of law, politics, philosophy, theology and public administration, and other study areas. Some practitioners, however, will dismiss any study or theory of ethics as not pertinent to their work, preferring instead to rely on laws, personnel manuals and job descriptions to define the limits of public sector responsibilities. That view now seems to be losing ground to the viewpoint that public administrators are no longer, if they ever were, expert technicians simply implementing the policy decisions of the policy makers. Rather,
public

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