Public policies dictate various ethical codes of conduct that public servants should follow in a bid to maintain delivery of services in ethically acceptable means. Common misunderstanding of ethical principles that govern the workplace usually causes ethical issues. This situation makes public employees vulnerable to breaking of public service rules. The direct victims of such state of affairs are the citizens that seek public services.
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However, the recurrence of the same behaviour makes breaking of public service rules a norm amongst the citizens. Sometimes, scrutiny and correction measures that are undertaken by the oversight independent organisations ensure effective public service. In my opinion, the practice of unethical behaviour in public workplaces is a common tendency that has explainable reasons. This essay seeks to explain why it is not always unethical for public employees to break public service rules.
Generalisation of Actions
Various reasons cause public employees to break rules that govern their activities in the workplace. The most common reason is generalisation of one’s action. In this case, an employee violates ethical rules and guidelines due to commonness of behaviour amongst the other colleagues who might have committed similar violations in the past or in the present (Jordan 2014).
Public employees have a tendency of acting as their counterparts to fit in the undesirable culture that develops in the organisational system. Generalisation of actions makes public servants to consoles themselves since everybody commits the same violations. Generalisation of actions happens because there is singling out of employees for condemnation. Nevertheless, none of the public servants is usually ready to take the blame against unethical deeds.
Diversion of Criticism
Anghel-Ilcu (2014) reveals that public servants have a tendency of diverting the criticisms that emerge from violation of ethical principles elsewhere. For instance, an employee may mention other similar or much worse wrong doings that occur within the system to evade criticism. According to them, their violations should not be criticised or noticed. This case is a mere defensive argument that implies that there are major misdeeds that happen behind the scenes.
Public servants use diversion of criticism used as a loophole to divert the real story before the management induces corrective measures to them. Probably, violation of ethical guidelines may not be their fault since several organs of the institution might be involved in similar situations. Eventually, the results of violations become a blame game with respect to the roles and responsibility of one’s functions in the organisation.
Timeliness of Ethical Violations
According to Faraz, Shamsi, and Bashir (2014), ethical nature is not based on the outcome, but on the time of action. Some public servants tend to go overboard with reference to commitment of their actions. They make other public servants believe that they are doing the right thing by providing proper services to the public whilst breaking service rules. The broadness of ethics extends the law. When a particular action is not regarded as illegal, it automatically becomes ethical in the public service.
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Many individuals tend to do actions that seem unethical since there is no law that pertains to such actions. Larijani and Ahedi (2014) posit that ethical value is the urge and desire to do the right thing. However, assume that their actions are right. They believe that that there is no state enforced law that against their deeds. Consequently, they behave ethically only at times when there is a tangible penalty or punishment by their supervisors.
Compliance with workplace rules does not necessarily mean ethics. According to Ali and Amosa (2014), these rules do not apply in all situations. However, a true desire to act in a right way defines ethical conduct. In some cases, public servants tend violate work ethics whilst strictly adhering to the set rules. Employees may abandon some ethical values to prosper individually or as an institution.
People who do not abide by the rules usually tend to have an advantage over those who do. Abandonment of rules is a short way to accomplish set tasks. Therefore, most of their actions are seen as unethical. The concept of ethics however states that winning isn’t the only thing, Therefore, even though one delivers without regarding the rules ,he or she has automatically broken the rule of ethics thus public servants are victims of such deeds.
An unethical act can also be justified if there is no harm that has been experienced. Public employees often use this excuse to justify their actions since they deal with matters that are associated with the public. In this case, the employees deem their actions ethical if the public are affected negatively. This situation makes an individual to disregard the unethical nature of their actions. It increases the probability of violating work ethics (Omotoso 2014).
Creation of Ethical Misperceptions
The mind-set that a senior servant such as the president of a state or cabinet secretary who violates work ethics but the public overlooks such violations enhances a culture of unethical behaviour (Eduard 2009). This tendency is regarded as pervasive. Therefore, it should be rejected because it disregards ethical deeds. Mind-sets create misperceptions of ethical actions.
This situation is another reason why the code of conduct is not highly regarded by the public servants since they seek to offer good services in an unethical manner. It has been a defensive argument that has been used by those who have been accused of breaking ethical rules. In this case, working against some ethical principles due misperceptions is regarded as violation the code ethics.
Rationalisation of Blame
Rationalisation of blame is another situation that tends to confuse blame with responsibility (Svara 2014). Public employees tend to blame each other on actions that are seen as unethical. This tendency enables them to evade impending consequences that may arise due to their unethical behaviour. Instead of solving the problem, they rationalise the blame to alleviate the situation. In the public sector, each department knows their specific roles and servants are limited to their specific roles without intruding the responsibilities of other departments. However, public servants become unethical where they indulge into the issues of another department. This tendency creates a confusion of events amongst the various departments of an organisation.
In conclusion, I think violation of public policies is not always unethical for public servants because their task is to deliver better services to the public. The public encompasses all categories of people and not every person gets satisfied with the services that are offered. Therefore, the efforts of public servants are crucial for the delivery of public services. Although public servants may fail to observe the code of ethics in a bid to offer some services, they should not break the law while delivering their services to citizens.
Ali, R & Amosa, D 2014, ‘An Exploration Of The Effectiveness Of Fiji’s Public Service Code Of Conduct’, Global Journal of Business Research (GJBR), vol. 8 no. 4, pp. 87-97.
Anghel-Ilcu, E 2014, ‘A theoretical model of code of ethics conceptualised from companies’ public disclosures on ethics’, Accounting & Management Information Systems, vol. 13 no. 1, pp. 111-58.
Eduard, M 2009, ‘Public Sector Ethics’, Young Economists Journal, vol. 71 no. 1, pp. 27-30.
Faraz, M, Shamsi, A, & Bashir, R 2014, ‘Working off the Clock and Its Impact’, Journal of Business Ethics’, vol. 122 no. 3, pp. 395-403.
Jordan, S 2014, ‘The Innovation Imperative: An analysis of the ethics of the imperative to innovate in public sector service delivery’, Public Management Review vol. 16 no. 1, pp. 67-89.
Larijani, B & Zahedi, F 2014, ‘Ethical Issues in Clinical Practice in Endocrinology- Review Article’, Iranian Journal of Public Health , vol. 43 no. 1, pp. 1-10.
Omotoso, F 2014, ‘Public-Service Ethics and Accountability for Effective Service Delivery in Nigeria’, Africa Today, vol. 60, no.3, pp.119-39.
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Svara, J 2014, ‘Who Are the Keepers of the Code? Articulating and Upholding Ethical Standards in the Field of Public Administration’, Public Administration Review, vol. 74 no. 5, pp. 561-69.