Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Certain salient aspects of ethics in Public administration

Maxim of Legality and Rationality: An administrator will follow the law and rules that are framed to govern and guide various categories of policies and decisions.

Maxim of Responsibility and Accountability: An administrator would not hesitate to accept responsibility for his decision and actions. He would hold himself morally responsible for his actions and for the use of his discretion while making decisions. Moreover, he would be willing to be held accountable to higher authorities of governance and even to the people who are the ultimate beneficiaries of his decisions and actions.

Maxim of Work Commitment: An administrator would be committed to his duties and perform his work with involvement, intelligence and dexterity. As Swami Vivekananda observed: “Every duty is holy and devotion to duty is the highest form of worship.” This would also entail a respect for time, punctuality and fulfillment of promises made. Work is considered not as a burden but as an opportunity to serve and constructively contribute to society.

Maxim of Excellence: An administrator would ensure the highest standards of quality in administrative decisions and action and would not compromise with standards because of convenience or complacency. In a competitive international environment, an administrative system should faithfully adhere to the requisites of Total Quality Management.

Maxim of Fusion: An administrator would rationally bring about a fusion of individual, organizational and social goals to help evolve unison of ideals and imbibe in his behavior a commitment to such a fusion. In situation of conflicting goals, a concern for ethics should govern the choices made.

• Maxim of Responsiveness and Resilience: An administrator would respond effectively to the demands and challenges from the external as well as internal environment. He would adapt to environmental transformation and yet sustain the ethical norms of conduct. In situations of deviation from the prescribed ethical norms, the administrative system would show resilience and bounce back into the accepted ethical mold at the earliest opportunity.
• Maxim of Utilitarianism: While making and implementing policies and decisions, an administrator will ensure that these lead to the greatest good (happiness, benefits) of the greatest number.
• Maxim of Compassion: An administrator, without violating the prescribed laws and rules, would demonstrate compassion for the poor, the disabled and the weak while using his discretion in making decisions. At least, he would not grant any benefits to the stronger section of society only because they are strong and would not deny the due consideration to the weak, despite their weakness.

• Maxim of National Interest: Though universalistic in orientation and liberal in outlook, a civil servant, while performing his duties, would keep in view the impact of his action on his nation’s strength and prestige. The Japanese, the Koreans, the Germans and the Chinese citizens (including civil servants), while performing their official roles, have at the back of their mind a concern and respect for their nation. This automatically raises the level of service rendered and the products delivered.

• Maxim of Justice:
Those responsible for formulation and execution of policies and decisions of governance would ensure that respect is shown to the principles of equality, equity, fairness, impartiality and objectivity and no special favors are doled out on the criteria of status, position, power, gender, class, caste or wealth.

• Maxim of Transparency: An administrator will make decisions and implement them in a transparent manner so that those affected by the decisions and those who wish to evaluate their rationale, will be able to understand the reasons behind such decisions and the sources of information on which these decisions were made.

• Maxim of Integrity:
An administrator would undertake an administrative action on the basis of honesty and not use his power, position and discretion to serve his personal interest and the illegitimate interests of other individuals or groups.
There could be many more tenets added to the above catalog of maxims of morality in administration. However, the overall objective is to ensure ‘Good Governance’ with a prime concern for ethical principles, practices, orientations and behavior. There are no dogmas involved in defining administrative ethics. The chief concern while doing so is the positive consequence of administrative action and not just ostensibly rational modes of administrative processes.

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