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What determines ethical behavior in public organizations: is it rules and/or leadership?

Downe, James ORCID:, Cowell, Richard ORCID: and Morgan, Karen 2016. What determines ethical behavior in public organizations: is it rules and/or leadership? Public Administration Review 76 (6) , pp. 898-909. 10.1111/puar.12562

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Leadership is widely seen as having an important role in fostering ethical conduct in organizations, but the way that leaders intersect with formalised ethical codes in shaping conduct has been little researched. This paper examines this issue through a qualitative study of the operation of the ‘ethical framework’ for English local government; which entailed all councils adopting inter alia a code of conduct to regulate the behaviour of politicians. Local government exemplifies an under-considered aspect of ethical leadership research – the effects of multiple people in leadership roles (managers and politicians) – and demonstrates the value of translational models of power to understand how agency is exercised on ethical conduct. The study finds that organizations with persistently good conduct have multiple leaders that demonstrate good conduct, who act and interact to pre-empt the escalation of problems, but also that such leaders act to minimise explicit, direct use of ethics regulation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution‐NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0033-3352
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 5 February 2016
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2023 02:46

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