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Effectiveness of Public-Service Ethics and Good Governance in the Central Administration of the EU-27

Evaluating Reform Outcomes in the Context of the Financial Crisis

Christoph Demmke and Timo Moilanen

Comparative studies of public-service ethics at the central governmental level in the EU Member States have a rather short history. Particularly, only a few studies have discussed the institutionalisation of ethics and the effectiveness of ethics instruments. Filling this gap and taking one step further, this particular comparative study analyses to what extent the transition towards a new and more complex concept of ethics and governance has proved effective and fruitful. The authors argue that discussions about ethics should be better integrated into other policy areas that affect the behaviour of public officials. These include public management reforms, human resource policies and leadership styles, perceptions of organisational fairness, impact of the ongoing financial crisis as well as cost-and-benefit considerations. The book provides a comprehensive view and analysis of the developments in the field of public-service ethics.


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No instruments or methodologies exist to measure the development of ethical behaviour over long periods of time, although there are reasons to believe that, by historical comparisons, civil servants have become more ethically sensitive than before in such fields as awareness of anti-discrimination, mobbing, gift- taking, political patronage, transparency and accountability. Over the last two decades the Member States have also invested considerable resources in setting ethical standards. All Member States accept that public-service ethics is important for numerous reasons: public institutions protect our countries from external and internal threats. Governments also employ means – such as the threat of violence – that affect the fate of all of us. Public authorities and specific groups of public em- ployees (judges, police officials, military personnel) may interfere with personal rights. Public officials provide means and goods - such as health care, employ- ment opportunities – that are valued by most citizens. Finally, public officials at all governmental levels exercise control over money granted to the government by the Parliament elected by the citizens. It is especially in the times of budget- ary constraints that the public service is accountable for the efficient, effective and ethical management of such funds. Consequently, public officials and public institutions have many opportunities to significantly affect the wellbeing of our societies. Therefore, we want their ac- tions to be guided by rules and policies that prevent them from acting unethi- cally. “Because in a democracy officials and institutions are supposed to act in our name and only on our...

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