Ethical Codes for the Public Administration. A Comparative Survey
This report is an analysis of a number of ethical codes for the national public administration. We present four theoretically grounded reasons for why such codes have been established and in many countries are seen as necessary. These are the limits of laws, the role of expertise in politics, the limits of steering by economic incentives and the problem of “self-interest” in public office. Our analysis departs from earlier studies in that we have included a number of non-western countries. One reason for this is to see if there exists a universal understanding of which values the civil service should uphold or if there are differences between countries from different regions in the world. Our ambition is not to study the effectiveness of these codes or prescribe values that should be included. Instead, our goal is to highlight which values are important across all codes, while also diving in to the deeper conversation about how these codes differ and reasons why this might be. The result is that there are striking similarities in the expression of most core values, particularly Impartiality, Legality, Reliability, Equal Treatment, Integrity, and Professionalism. Differences exist, for example in values relating to building state capacity (meritocracy, competence, performance) which are more prevalent in developing countries. There is also a difference between “aspirational codes” that emphasize values like service and courtesy to the public and “compliance codes” focusing on values like loyalty to the government and rule following.
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