Ethics Paper on Readings: Ethics in the Practice of Public Administration

Published: 2022-06-20
Ethics Paper on Readings: Ethics in the Practice of Public Administration
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Ethics Public administration
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1196 words
10 min read

In the article, Hierarchy, Virtue, and the Public Practice of Public Administration: A perspective of Normative Ethics by Cooper (2014), the author tries to identify the general approach toward the development of normative administrative ethics appropriate for public administration. The purpose of the article is to provide a moral identity for the public administration role, which provides a general orientation for action. Cooper (2014) also explores an ethic of virtue for public administration, which compliments ethical analysis of principles. The author formulated these objectives because of the realization of how employees undergo mistreatment under their supervisors for failing to follow the rules of their seniors that deemed illegal or unethical. Cooper (2014) provides an example of how a police officer is ordered by a commander not to issue citations to other senior officers for driving while intoxicated. The law provides that citations and punishment should be administered to all personnel's regardless of their ranks. The officer fails to follow the commands of the commander, and instead, the commander threatens the police officer with a poor proficiency rating and removal from his position. In such a scenario, Cooper points out that the lack of normative administrative ethics hinders the commander to act accordingly.

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Some of the primary themes observed in the Cooper article include an ethic of virtue for the practice of public administration. In this section, Cooper (2014) posits that an ethic of virtue is essential to identify the predispositions to act, which support causes of conduct that one has identified. This section further provides that normative ethics should consist of an understanding of appropriate ethical principles, an identification of virtues supportive of those principles, and analytical techniques that maybe be employed in particular situations to interpret the policies. Other themes evident in the article include the characteristics of a practice, internal and external goods of a practice, virtues and practices, maintaining the internal goods and attributes of a practice, the method of public administration, obligation to pursue the public interest, the commitment to authorizing processes and procedures, and responsibility to colleagues. In these themes, Cooper (2014) analyzes some of the best practices that leaders should employ in the organizations to enhance public administration and ensure harmony and cohesion among colleagues. I agree with Cooper's argument that leaders have an obligation to colleagues, authorize processes and procedures, and pursue the public interest. Public administration practitioners should continue enhancing the standards of excellence with which the practice is carried out. Additionally, the practitioners need to develop various characteristics such as humility, respect for colleagues, a sense of responsibility for the public administration, and prudent judgment to protect the external goods of the organization. I concur with all the arguments provided by Cooper because organizations require leaders who are ethical and capable of making a rational judgment that favors the colleagues and the whole organization. The lack of a proper to offer guidelines to the leaders to act ethically will result in violations of many rights including the rights of employees to work according to the law. The article by Cooper provides insightful examples that illustrate the mistreatment employees undergo for failing to follow orders, which they understand will cause harm rather than good. In conclusion, it is evident that a significant number of public administration practitioners and leaders in various organizations end up acting in ways that violate the rights of their colleagues for personal reasons. Such scenarios arise due to the lack of a proper normative administrative ethic that leaders can utilize to make prudent judgments and create harmony for protecting the internal and external goods of the organizations.

In the book Building Consensus for a Sustainable Future: Putting Principles into Practice by Cormick, Dale, Emond, Sigurdson, and Stuart (1996) the authors argue about the importance of accepting sustainability and employing the consensus processes to resolve management issues that arise in the organizations. Some of the primary themes discussed by the authors include what is a consensus process, places where the consensus process have been used, the ten principles for building consensus for a sustainable future, approaches to using the consensus process, a comparison of consensus process with other decision processes, the role of mediator in building the consensus, and choosing consensus processes. In this book, the authors try to emphasize the importance of formulating an agreement in an organization and how it can be utilized to solve various management problems. The authors also provide some of the instances where a consensus has been applied in the Canadian aspect. For example, in Newfoundland, a group of seven partners collaborated to design a program of innovative and sustainable forest management for an area that is valuable to each of the members. The authors go ahead to provide other illustrations where consensus has been utilized in Canada to emphasize its relevance in decision-making and its ability to mitigate disputes among members in an organization or a particular group.

Cormick et al. (1996) provide a ten-principle rule that is essential for leaders to adhere to achieve consensus in the organizations. The principles include purpose driven, inclusive, not exclusive, voluntary participation, self-design, flexibility, equal opportunity, and respect for diverse interest, accountability, time limits, and implementation. Another essential aspect discussed in the book is the systematic approach that leaders can use to using a consensus approach. Even though Cormick et al. (1996) emphasize on the importance of the consensus approach, the authors also provide a brief description of alternative methods to dispute resolution to widen their literature review and illustrate how disputes adversely affect the running of operations in an organization. Overall, this chapter by Cormick et al. (196) is a good read with well-researched information about the processed of utilizing a consensus and the different kinds of consensus used in Canada. I concur with Cormick et al. in the essence that in an organization or a group of people, an agreement can only work when the participants are provided with a reason and a drive to participate in the consensus. The parties involved in the dispute need to have a common concern and the belief that a consensus offers the best opportunity for solving conflicts. Without such an understanding, the issues that arise between two parties where consensus is the only alternative to bring normalcy will continue to exist thereby affecting cohesion and harmony between the groups. It is true that disputes between the parties can only be solved when the participants agree that they have a common concern and the issue can only be concluded by the use of a consensus to pursue their interests and strengthen the bond of commitment towards each other. However, I have observed that even though disputes require to be solved in the shortest time possible, sometimes a consensus process might not be the best approach. The parties involved need to analyze some of the reasons that case the disputes among them before adopting the consensus process.


Cooper, T. L. (1987). Hierarchy, virtue, and the practice of public administration: A perspective for normative ethics. Public Administration Review, 47(4), pp. 320-328.

Cormick, G., Dale, N., Emond, P., Sigurdson, S. G., & Stuart, B. D. (1996). Building consensus for a sustainable future: Putting principles into practice. Ottawa : National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

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