Public Administration Review
© American Society for Public Administration
Virtual Issue: Corruption, Unethical Behavior, and Ethics
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Introduction to Virtual Issue: Corruption, Unethical Behavior, and Ethics
by James L. Perry, Editor in Chief
This virtual issue features thirteen previously-published PAR articles on corruption, unethical behavior and ethics, topics consequential for every government around the world. Although corruption can manifest itself in a variety of ways such as fraud, theft, bribery, nepotism, waste of resources, and misuse of information, the impact of corruption is inextricably negative (Graaf 2010). As Villoria et al. (2012) point out, corruption “weaken[s] the legitimacy of government and harm[s] the social fabric of democratic society” by decreasing satisfaction with government and democracy, and also decreasing trust in government and in fellow citizens (pg. 92). Corruption can also increase rule breaking among citizens as they perceive there to be little incentive to act honestly (Villoria et al. 2012).
Corruption not only has social impact but economic impact, too. In an article that has captured much public attention, Liu and Mikesell (2014) demonstrate in the American context that corruption inflates state spending by more than $1,300 in the most corrupt states, creating additional fiscal pressures on government budgets that are already overstretched.
While unethical leadership weakens the social and economic fabric, ethical leadership can produce a number of positive organizational outcomes such as reducing absenteeism, by increasing followers’ attachment to the leader, which in turn, reduces the likelihood that they will misuse time off policies (Hassan et al. 2014). Ethical leadership has also been demonstrated to increase followers’ willingness to report ethical problems as followers perceive their organizational environment to be a safe place for sharing ethical concerns (Hassan et al. 2014).
Professional associations seek to instill ethical leadership in public officials using codes of ethics. Svara (2014) provides a historical overview of the development of codes of ethics in public administration with particular emphasis on the American Society for Public Administration’s (APSA) code. Svara contends that while APSA has progressed in the development of its code, ASPA has failed to provide the necessary training and resources that would allow members to enforce the code, resolve issues and complaints regarding the code, and increase awareness of the code among members and nonmembers. Thus, while ethics codes hold promise for combating corruption in government, their success hinges on knowledge of the codes and the ability of organizations to enforce them impartially.
Another tool for combating corruption in government is ethics commissions. Ethics commissions vary by the amount of powers that elected officials have over them and also by the amount of financial resources they possess (Rauh 2014). The lesser the capacity of ethics commission and the greater the power that elected officials have over determining the commission’s budget and personnel, the greater the perceived political interference in ethics commissions (Rauh 2014). Smith (2003) provides ten recommendations for improving ethics enforcement among state ethics commissions, several of which are reoccurring themes in the literature on ethics enforcement, including insulating commissions from politics, educating public employees regarding rules and procedures, and providing commissions with the power to impose substantial penalties.
Altogether, the PAR articles in this virtual issue demonstrate the strain that corruption can create on social and economic institutions and the hope and complexity involved in enforcing ethics through codes, ethics commissions, ethics training, and changes in staffing and leadership.
De Graaf, Gjalt, and Leo WJC Huberts. 2008. Portraying the Nature of Corruption Using an Explorative Case Study Design. Public Administration Review 68(4): 640-653.
Hassan, Shahidul, Bradley E. Wright, and Gary Yukl. 2014. Does Ethical Leadership Matter in Government? Effects on Organizational Commitment, Absenteeism, and Willingness to Report Ethical Problems. Public Administration Review 74(3): 333-343.
Liu, Cheol, and John L. Mikesell. 2014. The Impact of Public Officials’ Corruption on the Size and Allocation of US State Spending. Public Administration Review 74(3): 346-59.
Rauh, Jonathan. 2014. Predicting Political Influence on State Ethics Commissions: Of Course We Are Ethical – Nudge Nudge, Wink Wink. Public Administration Review. DOI: 10.1111/puar12290.
Svara, James H. 2014. Who Are the Keepers of the Code? Articulating and Upholding Ethical Standards in the Field of Public Administration. Public Administration Review 74(5): 561-569.
Villoria, Manuel, Gregg G. Van Ryzin, and Cecilia F. Lavena. 2013. Social and Political Consequences of Administrative Corruption: A Study of Public Perceptions in Spain. Public Administration Review 73(1): 85-94.
Revisiting the Core of Our Good Government Ethos
James L. Perry
Volume 75, Issue 2
Predicting Political Influence on State Ethics Commissions: Of Course We Are Ethical – Nudge Nudge, Wink Wink
Volume 75, Issue 1
Who Are the Keepers of the Code? Articulating and Upholding Ethical Standards in the Field of Public Administration
James H. Svara
Volume 74, Issue 5
Does Ethical Leadership Matter in Government? Effects on Organizational Commitment, Absenteeism, and Willingness to Report Ethical Problems
Shahidul Hassan, Bradley E. Wright, and Gary Yukl
Volume 74, Issue 3
The Impact of Public Officials’ Corruption on the Size and Allocation of US State Spending
Cheol Liu and John L. Mikesell
Volume 74, Issue 3
Managing Politics? Ethics Regulation and Conflicting Conceptions of “Good Conduct”
Richard Cowell, James Downe, and Karen Morgan
Volume 74, Issue 1
Building Ethical Capital: Perceptions of Ethical Climate in the Public Sector
Eric D. Raile
Volume 73, Issue 2
Social and Political Consequences of Administrative Corruption: A Study of Public Perceptions in Spain
Manuel Villoria, Gregg G. Van Ryzin, and Cecilia F. Lavena
Volume 73, Issue 1
A Report on Reporting: Why Peers Report Integrity and Law Violations in Public Organizations
Gjalt De Graaf
Volume 70, Issue 5
Institutional Congruence, Ideas, and Anticorruption Policy: The Case of China and the United States
Volume 69, Issue Supplement 1
Portraying the Nature of Corruption Using an Explorative Case Study Design
Gjalt De Graaf and Leo W.J.C. Huberts
Volume 68, Issue 4
Governance Structure and Administrative Corruption in Japan: An Organizational Network Approach
Volume 67, Issue 5
Enforcement or Ethical Capacity: Considering the Role of State Ethics Commissions at the Millennium
Robert W. Smith
Volume 63, Issue 3
Roadblocks in Reforming Corrupt Agencies: The Case of the New York City School Custodians
Volume 62, Issue 4