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Promoting public sector 'ethos'

Promoting public sector 'ethos'

Lethbridge, Jane ORCID: 0000-0002-0094-9967 (2009) Promoting public sector 'ethos'. In: EGPA Conference on The Public Service: Service Delivery in the Information Age, 2-5 September 2009, Saint Julian’s, Malta..

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Commentators have remarked that the public sector ‘ethos’ is in danger of being lost in current public sector reforms, especially in the area of human resource management (Matheson, 2002). Current political debates about the extent to which a public sector ‘ethos’ is required to deliver public services have made it an important issue in public administration teaching. This paper discusses some of the issues raised in developing a public sector ‘ethos’ in the design and initial delivery of a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) programme. It raises some fundamental questions about whether it is possible to train students in a public sector ‘ethos’. Lundquist (1996) distinguished values of democracy and rationality within the public sector ‘ethos’ and this perspective complements attempts to locate the public sector ‘ethos’ in wider debates about the development of reflexivity, whether in the individual or as part of a collective endeavour (Cunliffe and Jun, 2005). Another approach takes the development of critical thinking in public administration and argues that the basis for a public sector ‘ethos’ is the translation of critical thinking into action (Martin, 2002). This can link to the promotion of public services and their associated values. This paper draws on interviews with students and staff over the first two years of an MPA programme. It also includes personal observations by the writer who teaches on the MPA and is MPA programme leader. The aim of this MPA programme is to equip students to deal with the changing public administration environment through exploring the public-private interface. This led to specific debates about public and private ‘ethos’ and ways of encouraging students to critique changes in public services. The relationship between content and skills development was also examined and showed how, together, they can be successful in promoting a public sector ‘ethos’. This paper argues that supporting the development of a public sector ‘ethos’ cannot be achieved by teaching ethics or corporate responsibility as separate courses but has to evolve from a critical perspective to changes in public administration, which is grounded in an appreciation and strategy for promoting and improving public services in the future. In the light of the current economic crisis, which, on the one hand has pushed the government ‘centre stage’ but also threatens the resources needed by the public sector, sustaining a public sector ‘ethos’ becomes increasingly urgent.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Additional Information: [1] Paper prepared for the EGPA Conference ‘The Public Service: Service Delivery in the Information Age’, 2‐5 September 2009, Saint Julian’s, Malta. [2] Paper was presented at conference convened by the European Group of Public Administration (EGPA), in section PSG IX: Public Administration and Teaching - Theme: Teaching issues of integrity and public sector values. Convenors, Prof. em. Dr. Arthur Ringeling and Prof. em Dr. Christoph Reichard.
Uncontrolled Keywords: public services, ethos, public sector reform
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Centre for Work and Employment Research (CREW) > Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU)
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Last Modified: 17 May 2019 14:00

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