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Public Service Ethics

Public Service Ethics
Individual and Institutional Responsibilities

January 2014 | 368 pages | CQ Press
Ethics—in all its exemplary and exhausting forms—matters. It deals with the most gripping question in public life: “What is the right thing to do?” Bowman and West examine individual-centered and organization-focused ethics, applying ideas and ideals from both to contemporary dilemmas.  The authors take on controversial issues—from whistle blowing incidents to corruption exposés—to explain how they arise and suggest what can be done about them. They start with the conceptual tools students need to evaluate an ethical dilemma, then analyze individual decision making strategies, and go on to assess institutional ethics programs. The emphasis is not only on the “how to,” but also on the “why.” The ultimate goal is to bolster students’ confidence and prepare them for the ethical problems they will face in the future, by equipping them with the conceptual frameworks and context to approach thorny questions and behave ethically.
List of Tables, Figures, and Exhibits
About the Authors
I. Foundations of Public Service Ethics
1. Pertinence, Practicality, and Poppycock
Pertinence: Reasons to Study Ethics

Practicality: Commitment as a Privilege and Obligation

Poppycock: Myths About Ethics


Appendix 1.1 Personal Checklist

2. Perspectives on Ethics: Macro, Meso, Micro
Levels of Analysis

Contemporary Research on Levels of Ethics

Meso Level of Analysis: The Organization

Micro Level of Analysis: The Individual

Factors Influencing Meso-Micro Ethics


Case Study 2.1 The Pennsylvania State University Athletic Sex Abuse Scandal

3. Values, Ethics, and Dilemmas
Defining Values

Applying Values in Public Service

Defining Ethics

Domains of Human Action: Law vs. Free Choice

Case Study 3.1 Challenge the Leader

Social Forces Endangering Ethics

Case Study 3.2 Value Conflicts in World Affairs


II. Individual-Centered Approaches to Ethics
4. Moral Development Theory
Kohlberg’s Moral Development Theory: A Rational Approach

Case Study 4.1 Applying Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development

Milgram’s Shock and Zimbardo’s Prison Experiments: Ethics Under Pressure

Haidt’s Social Intuitionalist Approach


5. Cognitive Ethics Methods: Result and Rule Problem-Solving Approaches
Approaches to Ethics

A Five-Stage Method for Analyzing Ethical Issues

Moral Courage

Case Study 5.1 Applying the Kew Gardens Principles

Applying the Five-stage Method: A Personal and Professional Conflict


Appendix 5.1 Sensitivity-Intensity Matrix Approach

Appendix 5.2 The Ethical Principles Approach

Case Study 5.2 Applying the Ethical Principles Approach: Playing Poker With a Vendor

Appendix 5.3 Line Drawing

Case Study 5.3 Applying the Line Drawing Method: A Questionable Gift

6. Virtue Theory
Comparing Cognitive and Virtue Ethics

The Vocabulary of Virtue

Habituation: The Formation of Character

Virtue Theory Strengths and Weaknesses

Case Study 6.1 Applying Rion’s Ethical Decision-Making Framework: Probing the Conscience

Utility of Virtue Ethics for Managers: Challenge and Response


7. Conscious Deliberation and Subconscious Action: The Dishonesty of Honest People
Results, Rule, Virtue: Decision Making With the Ethics Triad

Utilizing the Ethics Triad

Case Study 7.1 The Ethics Triad: Applying the Rational Approach to a Birthday Invitation

Behavioral Ethics: What People Do vs. What They Say They Do


Appendix 7.1 Critiquing Student Case Analyses

III. Institutional Approaches to Ethics
8. Organizational Ethics
Types of Organizational Strategies

Ethical Infrastructure: Building Blocks in Ethics Management

Case Study 8.1 Applying Philosophical and Behavioral Ethics Approaches: To Follow or Not to Follow Government Hiring Policy

Organizational Structure

Values Statements

Psychological Contracts

Oaths and Codes

Institutionalizing Ethics Cultural Competency


9. Corruption Control
Scope and Magnitude of Corruption Today

Defining Corruption

Causes of Corruption and Evolution of Anticorruption Strategies

Individual and Institutional Moral Failure

Scandals: Types and Impacts

Avenues for Reform

Case Study 9.1 Applying Philosophical and Behavioral Ethics Approaches: Public to Private Employment on Similar Work


10. Whistleblowing in Organizations
Significance of Whistleblowing

Case Study 10.1 Problem Solver or Trouble Maker?

Whistleblower Laws

Case Study 10.2 Applying Rational and Behavioral Ethics Approaches: Cooking the Books

Dissent in Organizations

Case Study 10.3 The Silent Whistle

Case Study 10.4 Successful Whistleblowing

Trends in Blowing the Whistle


IV. Issues in Public Service Ethics
11. Ethics and Elected Officials
Case Study 11.1 Congressional Conflict of Interest

Case Study 11.2 Congressional Insider Trading

Ethics and Legislative Decision Making

Case Study 11.3 Robert Torricelli and the CIA

The Influence of Character and Roles on Elected Officials

Polarization of Politics and Ethical Implications

Negative Campaigning

The Problem of Dirty Hands

Case Study 11.4 Applying Philosophical and Behavioral Ethics Approaches: Interrogation Methods

Presidents and Truthfulness

The Influence of Citizens and the Media on Politicians

Case Study 11.5 Applying Philosophical and Behavioral Ethics Approaches: A Transgender City Manager


Appendix 11.1 Ethics Committees

12. Organizational Gaming and Performance Measurement
Duplicity Pressures

Case Study 12.1 Organizational Cheating in Education

Types of Gaming

Cheating, Politicians, and Public Opinion

Ethically Evaluating and Minimizing Cheating

Case Study 12.2 Applying Philosophical and Behavioral Ethics Approaches: Electronic Surveillance in the Workplace


13. At-Will Employment
The Employment At-Will Doctrine

Applying the Ethics Triad to At-Will Employment

Summary and Conclusion

14. Open Government Case Study: Pay Disclosure
Trends and Tensions in Open Government

Background: Increasing Demand for Transparency

Applying the Ethics Triad to Pay Disclosure


Conclusion: Implementing Balance in Transparency Policy

V. Future History
15. Choices and Strategies for the Years Ahead
Moral Grandeur

Moral Decay

New Challenges

Guidelines for Ethical Conduct

Case Study 15.1 Applying Rational and Philosophical Ethics Approaches: Drones in Domestic Law Enforcement

Appendix 15.1 Sample Graduate Student Action Plan


Public Service Ethics: Individual and Institutional Responsibilities is superior to other ethics texts I’ve used -- I was hooked from the opening pages. Bowman and West do an admirable job of both building a coherent picture of ethical public management and providing students with a robust toolkit for making ethical decisions in a variety of settings. The authors thoroughly cover the essential topics and problems in public service ethics, and bring the theories and techniques of ethical management into sharp focus through compelling practical examples. Students  are given ample opportunities to apply concepts and lessons from the text through a variety of well-developed exercises; case studies that illustrate real ethical problems confronting public managers bring the book’s material to life. With its rich substantive content, current examples, and lively writing, this text is a compelling read and a welcome new development for public service ethics.

Aaron Wachhaus
Pennsylvania State University

Public Service Ethics: Individual and Institutional Responsibilities is a fabulous book. The overall coverage is terrific, especially in response to new challenges in public service. Bowman and West combine contemporary and timely research, issues, examples, and case studies; yet they also convey an awareness of the enduring ethical dilemmas at the heart of public service. The book has a nice blend of the theory and history of public service ethics, and includes practical strategies that will be very helpful to students as they build their way to an individualized approach to the challenges they face in their careers. A groundbreaking text.

Kate Forhan
University of Southern Maine

Bowman and West’s Public Service Ethics: Individual and Institutional Responsibilities speaks directly to the ethical issues faced by public sector managers. The book fits amazingly well with the way I teach ethics. The authors make a compelling argument for the study of ethics and effectively integrate their ideas throughout the book. The writing is lively and engaging, and will appeal to students and working professionals because it is not pretentious and pious—as are some works on the subject of ethics. The book’s many strengths may be found in its well written exercises and study questions. This text encourages students to become reflective scholars, which fits hand-in-glove with my teaching style.

Ramona Ortega-Liston
University of Akron

Public Service Ethics: Individual and Institutional Responsibilities is a pleasure to read, and provides appropriately balanced coverage of the topic. Bowman and West’s argument is persuasive, and the logical organization of their text clearly and effectively communicates the way public managers can use their understanding of personal ethics and societal ethics to build organizational ethics. I especially like their discussion of how “macro,” “meso,” and “micro” levels of ethical analysis relate to each other. Readers will find the book’s analytic approach both engaging and illuminating.

Dan Feldman
John Jay College

Public Service Ethics: Individual and Institutional Responsibilities will serve as a great resource for my students. Bowman and West’s approach to ethics is well developed and balanced, and evokes both reflection and analysis. The text is particularly strong on presenting empirical evidence of ethics practices and how effective or ineffective they are; and for buttressing pro and con positions on ethical issues. Discussions of moral development theory, corruption, and the ethics of elected and appointed officials -- topics that are usually not well developed in other ethics texts -- are especially valuable.  The authors also offer many useful analytic tools and methods for engaging in ethical analysis, with numerous real-world examples and cases that effectively illustrate the key points in each chapter. 

Richard Green
University of Utah

This book represents a considerable accomplishment in a field where there??? are inevitably many loose ends and where new ethical problems increasingly confront public of??ficials. It provides a coherent and integrated relationship between theory and practice, a framework for analysis, and illustrations of the way in which analytical tools may be employed to deal with ethical dilemmas. It makes a signi????ficant new contribution to the study of administrative ethics.???

Ian Scott, Department of Public Policy, City University of Hong Kong
International Review of Public Administration

The text does a pretty good job of covering ethics theory without getting bogged down in state/local/federal minutiae of laws and statutes. Instructors contemplating using this text may want to consider some supplemental material to go along with the text, especially if used at a graduate level.

Joseph Martin
Political Science, East Tennessee State Univ
December 20, 2018

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 8

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