Sample Essay on Code of Ethics in Public Administration


Code of ethics refers to the professional standards expected in a public office guiding the relationships between the clients in an organization and the employees. These codes are far stretched and even apply to the relationships and dealings of the employees, management, owners and even the clientele. The codes of ethics stipulates the requirements of individuals in respect with the dealings in an organization. Code of ethics are available in every organization and in most, are referred to as the rules and regulations to be adhered to by the clientele. In this respect, codes of conduct prove to be extremely important in an organization because it stipulates the dealings and relationships between people in the organization.

This paper aims to meticulously address key concerns regarding public administration in reference to the code of ethics and professional standards. Further, it analyzes the importance of code of ethics in an organization, addresses the misconception of some scholars in regards to the code of ethics, and also grants a broader understanding of the codes of ethics in light of the law and the view of a layman.

Purpose of a code of ethics

Code of ethics is very important, organizations like the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) has vested both time and effort towards establishing the importance and real purpose for code of ethics. One of the most important facet of having a code of ethics in public administration is the identification of behaviors that are deemed unacceptable in an organization. This is in order to set a standard and a mandate that both the workforce and management are inclined not to overstep for doing so might breed dire consequences ranging from court injunctions to retrenchment. Human by nature is surrounded by resources which are adequate to satisfy the basic needs and inadequate to grant complete comfort. In this regard, the code of ethics act as a regulator, stipulating that which cannot be done by any party so that the rights and personal freedoms of every individual in an organization is adhered to.

Moreover, code of ethics also stipulates the expectations of positive behavior. The main aim of having a code of ethics to be adhered to by every employee in an organization is to encourage good relationships among workers ensuring a healthy working environment and maintenance of a set of professional standard. This is positive in all respects but requires implementation through synchronization in the rules and regulations that apply to all public administrators. This is also a platform for keeping at bay unprofessional standards that might taint the image of a company or any public administrator in office.

Thirdly, the expectations of personnel who are not specified in a profession are guided by the code. They get to have some slight knowledge based on what is expected from professionals. The code of ethics stipulates the rules of professional standards and ethics, this keeps those outside the company as well as key players in other professional bodies in check. Such individuals develop some forms of expectations in relation to the kind of treatment that they ought to expect from professionals in their respective fields. Nevertheless, they are able to know when they are being exploited and mitigate such a matter with respect to the law and company policies.

            Code of ethics also acts as a platform for each individual being responsible of the actions that they take. It also provides a platform for decision making when a company is faced with an ethical issue. Although the code does not provide all the guidelines and codes of conduct required by each employee, it does provide a standard of interaction expected from every professional which is a reference point with regard to the law and company policies. Moreover, the code of ethics work as a way of absolving the company from blame in case of an ethical concern by directly pinning the individual employee/workforce breaching the codes of ethics. One has to be directly responsible for their own actions with the company not bearing the mistakes of a single individual.

The criticisms of codes of ethics

            The implementation and institution of codes of ethics saw various forms of criticism from scholars. Change is sure to receive some form of opposition in a bid to get a clear understanding of the reason(s) for its institution and the necessary adjustments that need be done. One of the key criticisms was the fact that code of ethics reinforced the autonomy of professionals in public administration. This was mainly because the codes of ethics tended to concentrate authority towards as opposed to the bottom. Therefore, there was some form of unfairness in that the top management had more jurisdiction of performing some actions that were unacceptable to the juniors/subjects. Thus, the decisions made in organizations had the tendency of moving to the up levels as opposed to the lower levels.

Secondly, most scholars proposed the concept of having ethics rather than the code in public administration. The argument in this case was that ethics was not a branch of the codes, they entailed two different things that needed no linking with ethics. Moreover, according to these scholars The American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) had no jurisdiction in outlining the codes of ethics in organizations. Moreover, the codes of ethics instituted by The American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) proved to be too broad and general. This makes it an easy target for manipulation for those with proper knowledge of the law. Their angle of argument was that the codes of ethics were either to be narrowed to specify the requirement for each public administration official or scrapped off all together.

Lastly, to other scholars, the code of ethics were too narrow and at the same time proved to be too negative. This is because the codes of ethics emphasized the actions that a public administrator ought not to do as opposed to what was required. The thought of a standard set for interactions and dealings of a people and employees in an organization proved narrow and to some extent too negative.

Analysis of the criticisms

The criticism that I find most valid is the argument that the codes of ethics set up by the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) are too general or diverse. This is because the rules and regulations that are outlined in the code of ethics only act as a guideline to the requirements or expectations from a public administration officer on the basis of his actions. The morals, integrity and personal attributes prove to be more important than the code of ethics because it is a personal decision to abide by the code, hence, it is subjective.

On the other hand, the criticism that I find most irrelevant is the premise of argument that concentrates on the jurisdiction of the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA) in coming up with the code of ethics to be adhered to by all the public administrators. The concentration should be in regard to the policies, rules and regulations stipulated in the code of ethics as opposed to the jurisdiction of ASPA.

Principles of ASPA Code of Ethics

Upholding the constitution and the law

The constitution is a document that stipulates the rights and freedoms of every individual citizen in a country. As a patriotic public administrator, one must have respect for the constitution and the law as well. This would assist in assessing whether the company policies and regulations are in tandem with the constitution and the law. The respect of the law and constitution is a personal responsibility, failure to abide by these rules leads to dire consequences like imprisonment. Integrity is key for any public administrator. Abiding by the codes of ethics provided by the ASPA Codes of Ethics requires due regard and respect for the law and constitution and is thus a requirement for any public administrator (Svara, 2014).

Moreover, public administrators have a responsibility of promoting equality, fairness and justice in the society. Public administration holds that everyone is equal before the law and the rights of every individual should be adhered to and respected. In as much as the principles of public administration do apply, they have to be synchronized to fit the respect for the due process and the constitution.


            Public administrators have a responsibility to adhere to the codes of ethics instituted by the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA). Central to the principles of Codes of Ethics by ASPA is the responsibility of upholding the law and constitution by the public health officials. This is a responsibility promoting fairness, justice and showing patriotism on the part of the public administrators. Codes of ethics refer to morals and professional codes of conduct to be adhered to by all public administrators as instituted by The American Society for Public Administration. The main purpose of the Codes of Ethics is the creation of a standard requirement for professionalism in the business in terms of business operations and interaction with clientele. This provides some sort of social responsibili


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.Svara, J. H. (2014). Who Are the Keepers of the Code? Articulating and Upholding Ethical Standards in the Field of Public Administration. Public Administration Review74(5), 561-569.

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