California State University, Stanislaus
Ethical guidelines for behavior that prescribe how someone ought to act. A "standard" is most commonly thought of as a rule, value, or principle, sanctioned by an authority, that is used as a basis in making a judgement. In this case, the term "standard of conduct" has an ethical connotation because it offers a moral imperative as to how one should act in relationship to others. The Ten Commandments in Judeo-Christian belief or the Eight-fold Path in Buddhism reflect examples of religious standards of conduct, but the term has relevance in a variety of other contexts as well.
From the viewpoint of public administration, a standard of conduct presumes a public manager behaves according to a defined role with an accompanying set of responsibilities. Standards of conduct provide the basis for how an administrator should act in fulfilling these responsibilities. Often standards are put in the form of moral principles, such as the five outlined in the Code of Ethics for the American Society for Public Administration (1994): (1) serve the public interest, (2) respect the Constitution and the law, (3) demonstrate personal integrity, (4) promote ethical organizations, and (5) strive for professional excellence. In other instances, they may be put in the form of exhortations or prohibitions. For example, the 1980 Code of Ethics for Government Service in the United States admonishes public employees to adhere to nine standards of conduct, such as, "Put loyalty to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to persons, party, or Government department" and "Make