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Importance of Ethics in a Public Administration Setting Essay Example

Importance of Ethics in a Public Administration Setting

Public administration is directly responsible for the welfare of a country’s citizens. While the administration may be vested by a lot of autonomy to work on the best interests of the people, its bureaucratic behavior is guided by values. These are usually referred to as administrative service ethics or the principles and standards of conduct for public servants. The administrative service principles ensure that there is accountability between the administration and the people through adherence to a code of ethics that ensures these people are treated fairly and accorded the resources they need. Hence, the principles create a situation where people trust the administration since it is already established to work with integrity. Understanding this trust ensures the public believes that the public administration has its interests in mind. In order to demonstrate the important role played by the public administration ethics, this paper will critique the articles “Servant Leadership and Public Administration” and “Ethical Choice Making” to determine the role that ethics plays to solve financial problems in the public sector and how it affects the process of ethical decision making.

Summary and Critique of Articles

“Servant Leadership and Public Administration: Solving the Public Sector Financial Problems through Service” and “Ethical Choice Making” by Weinstein

In the article, Weinstein (2013) discusses the unilateral actions taken to unionize environments governed by collective bargaining conditions used to address financial problems that state and local governments encounter. As these unilateral actions are expected to explain the adversarial tension between management and unions within the public administration, servant leadership has emerged to ensure its applicability within the various organizations. Servant leadership is rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ to his disciples, requiring leaders to become servants (Weinstein, 2013). Thus, the paper mainly argues that once a leader applies servant leadership in the management of worker’s unions, it could foster an environment of trust and one not characterized by adversaries. Competitiveness within an organization is only possible whenever trust is established since it enables interaction between people. Hence, the trust could be created as a trait of successful organizations in the company.

Weinstein (2013) has tried to demonstrate how servant leadership is appropriate when solving the financial problems of the public, which appears to be effective in representation. Clearly, the author is accurate in his description of a leadership model that is appropriate and applicable to the current administration (local and state). The effectiveness of this theory is evident since it rarely tries to demonstrate its premises from an empirical standpoint – it focuses on individual organizations and societal needs adhering to moral and spiritual provisions of the theory (Smith, 2005). From this perspective, the theory is one of the most effective approaches to ensuring a just distribution of resources between people. The moral perspective of the theory, therefore, emphasizes the welfare of the citizens. Collective bargaining is done effectively through such a leadership model and the servant part of a leader that makes the leader a servant before becoming the leader.

Ethical Choice Making” by Stout and Love

Throughout the article, Stout and Love (2013) seem to take the approach that ethics could be perceived substantively. According to the authors, external factors described as the criteria, and internal factors, which are the motivators, draw the line between the “right” action and the “good” thing to do. Personally, I find the theory to be limited or inadequate when applied on its own in public administration. Similarly, White (2013) points out that people’s interests are usually internal and subjective; hence, it is difficult to determine what everyone else desires. Nevertheless, interests could also be termed as objective, and in fact, no one can determine other people’s choices without any knowledge of the persons. Hence, I believe that ethical decision making could not be the only model used to determine the actions.

As public organizations try to solve issues relating to the well-being of the public, their role surpasses the financial needs of the people. In most cases, ethics differentiates between right and right, whereas morality differentiates right from wrong. In society’s current state, people use different versions of the right to demonstrate that their opinion is correct, consequently leading to dilemmas and confusion. Both individual and collective progress could be used in integration to decide on the best course of action – Weinstein’s (2013) argument is undoubtedly sound. Stout and Love (2013) assert that the integrative process used in making ethical choices could produce loyalty and obedience due to personal investment and commitment to the relationship formed. Since the code of conduct is created internally, rather than the usual externally imposed ethical standards, this one is self-enforced and created through an integrative process. Consequently, decisions made by the public administration are more efficient and ensures that people’s needs are considered.


The study of both articles and other journals relevant to the study demonstrates that public administration ethics are vital to the relationship between the public and the government. A study of the two articles shows that the codes of ethics could be used to solve financial problems facing the public and guide decision making. Evidently, as much as ethics is useful in stimulating the right way to act and differentiate wrong from right, it is apparent that right is not always right for all people. In consequence, the two authors are right in the use of ethics to address challenges within public administration.



Hanson, J. T. (2011). Public servant leadership: A new paradigm for public service. Chicago, IL: Government Finance Officers Association. Retrieved from

Smith, C. (2005). Servant leadership: The leadership theory of Robert K. Greenleaf. Retrieved from

Stout, M., & Love, J. (2013). Ethical choice making. Public Administration Quarterly, 37(2), 278-294.

Weinstein, R. B. (2013). Servant leadership and public administration: Solving the public sector financial problems through Service. Journal of Management Policy and Practice, 14(3), 84-91.

White, M. D. (2013). The manipulation of choice: Ethics and libertarian paternalism. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

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