Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Combating Corruption, Encouraging Ethics: A Practical Guide to Management Ethics (Second Edition)

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Combating Corruption, Encouraging Ethics: A Practical Guide to Management Ethics (Second Edition)

Article excerpt

William L. Richter and Frances Burke, eds. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. in cooperation with the American Society for Public Administration, 2007. 304 pages. $34.95 paperbound.

Ethics can be seen as a set of ideas--concerns, rules, principles, virtues, values, and decision processes--that allow people to live together and successfully pursue their common and individual interests. Its origins may be divine intervention or human insight and its expressions have been refined and transmitted throughout history in societies and social institutions.

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ETHICS ALLOWS US TO DECIDE NOT just what is the case but what should be the case--what is right or wrong, good or bad, worthy or unworthy of human action or aspiration.

In Combating Corruption, Encouraging Ethics: A Practical Guide to Management Ethics, editors Richter and Burke are furthering this important human activity at a time of definite need. The 2007 National Business Ethics Survey (www.ethics.org) indicates that unethical actions in business. professional, and not-for-profit organizations have returned to disturbing pre-Enron levels. Fifty-six percent of employees surveyed saw conduct that violated their organization's ethics standards, policy, or the law. This high rate of misconduct, plus a low level of management awareness (two in five employees do not report it), and the absence of fully developed ethics and compliance programs (only one in four companies) equals a treacherous ethics landscape for organizations, employees, and the public. Previous surveys have shown that not-for-profits and public entities have as many problems as businesses.

The editors' response to this environment is to examine the ethical challenges of a specific area of practice--the work of public servants at all levels of government and not-for-profit organizations. This is an effective strategy since the problems and ethical guidance in any area of work usually arise from the actual circumstances and ways of thinking common to that activity. Occasional recourse to the more abstract concerns of how human morality as a whole should operate are helpful to guide decision-making at work and to provide a broader perspective. The book provides insights into both.

For the concrete concerns, the reader experiences a wide but carefully selected set of readings on the challenges public administrators face: the obligations created by public responsibility and accountability; the new challenges of globalization; the ethical problems of fraud, waste, and corrupt practices; graft, bribery and conflicts of interest; lying, cheating, and deception; privacy, secrecy, and confidentiality; and abuse of authority and "administrative evil." Each problem is illuminated by essays, anchored by a brief case and questions for discussion, and extended by a list of further readings. …

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