1st Edition

Public Leadership Ethics A Management Approach

By J. Patrick Dobel Copyright 2018
    122 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    122 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Designed to help midlevel and senior managers in organizations dedicated to public purposes, this book provides trained self-awareness to deploy values to guide decisions and build the culture of their organizations. The book explores how all managing involves leading and identifies the levels of ethical responsibility for managerial leaders.

    Highlighting the fundamental role that ethics plays in organizational life, J. Patrick Dobel uses insights from cognitive and social psychology to discuss how to anticipate and address threats to integrity and value informed decision making. Building on traditional ethical theory and modern research, the book begins with the fundamental assumption that individuals possess responsibility when they act for ethical purposes and results in taking a position within a public or nonprofit organization. This assumption of responsibility recognizes the inherent discretion in all positions and claims that effective ethical management requires self-awareness, self-mastery, integrity and a working frame of one’s values and character. The book pays special attention to the challenges of integrating diverse people and perspectives in public organizations as well as attending to the slippages to integrity in organizational life and how managers and leaders can foresee and address ethical slippage and corruption. The book provides checklists and decision frameworks that individuals can adopt and deploy to guide decisions.

    Public Leadership Ethics: A Management Approach will help create strong value informed cultures supported by communication, transparency, incentives and strong management cadres to achieve high quality service and integrity based actions. It will be of special interest to managerial leaders in public service and teaching in public administration and policy programs or executive training.



    1. The Purposes of Ethics in Organizations

    2. Managers Lead

    3. Acting with Integrity

    4. Building an Ethical Organization

    5. Leadership Values

    6. Unethical Behavior and Ethical Slippage

    7. Value Driven Leading: Thinking in Multiple Dimensions


    Appendix: Skills and Behaviors for Value Driven Leading


    J. Patrick Dobel is the Corbally Professor Emeritus in Public Service at the University of Washington. He teaches at the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. His work studies the intersection of politics, institutions and judgment, and his teaching has covered strategy, leadership, public ethics and management. His main research explores the integration of values and institutional structure in articles such as "Holy Evil" and work on leadership legacy or political corruption. As an advisor on ethics and management, he has worked with many public and nonprofit agencies and served as the chair of various ethics commissions such King County and Seattle, Washington. He has authored several award winning articles as well as many others on public leadership, ethics, and integrity in journals such as The American Political Science Review, Public Administration Review, Administration and Society and Public Integrity. His books Compromise and Political Action: Political Morality in Liberal and Democratic Life, and Public Integrity are widely taught and study the reality of ethics in public life.  

    'Doing public policy or managing organizations is very hard, but our best endeavours are monumentally undermined when the ethical climate is poor and when leadership operates either in an ethical vacuum or with significant ethical lapses. Good leaders are ethical leaders and J. Patrick Dobel demonstrates this clearly and powerfully. This excellent book, written by one of our great experts in the field, describes and analyses how values driven leading can work, and the pitfalls and red flags that might hinder this. This is a most valuable and practical book.' —Adam Graycar, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia

    'The ultimate field guide for leaders and leaders-to-be, this book translates a lifetime of leadership and values scholarship into a roadmap for restoring trust in government. It should be required reading for public administrators, politicians, and all who dare to speak about the public good.' —Carole L. Jurkiewicz, Sherry H. Penney Endowed Professor of Leadership, University of Massachusetts Boston

    'Public managers face growing expectations for increased accountability, transparency and effectiveness amidst a more turbulent political and fiscal environment. Thus, J. Patrick Dobel’s new book, Public Leadership Ethics is an especially welcome contribution to the field of public administration. This book offers excellent highly useful guidance for public managers to negotiate complex ethical dilemmas, create a value-driven culture of integrity, and develop informed, effective organizational leadership and governance. This top-notch, incisive book will be of broad interest to policymakers, public managers, and faculty and students of public administration.' —Steven Rathgeb Smith, American Political Science Association

    'Public Leadership Ethics is a captivating, extremely well-written, timely book written by the most knowledgeable ethics expert in the field. It addresses an important topic in a new, refreshing manner, emphasizing the importance of ethics in leadership and management. This book is a significant contribution to the literature on ethics and is a must read for anyone who cares about ethical government.' —Rosemary O’Leary, Director and Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor, School of Public Affairs, University of Kansas

    ' ... the value of this book is to remind current and future public-sector leaders that public service is a human endeavor that is produced and reproduced by and between people. Attempting to lead-by-rule not only ignores this reality, but also is tantamount to an ethical lapse itself.' —Sharon Mastracci, Public Integrity