Skip to main content

Ethics in Public Policy and Management

Go Search
New Atlas
Atlas, A-Z
Atlas Maps
MPP/MPA Programs
Core Topics
Illustrative Courses
Topic Encyclopedia
Concept Dictionary
Career Tips
Best Practices Project


A Teaching Topic in Ethics and Accountability 

Ethics in Public Policy and Management

This topic introduces students to the most important ideas and concepts surrounding different conceptions of the appropriate professional ethics for public sector managers. These themes are generally explored in greater depth in full courses within MPA/MPP programs, which may be required or elective courses depending on the program.

Topic Learning Outcome: Students will be knowledgeable about the most important ethical guidelines that govern the conduct of public servants.

Core Concepts associated with this Topic: Abuse of Authority; Delegation Matrix; Delegation of Authority; Due Diligence; Fiduciary Duty; Management Accountability; Management Accountability Framework.

Recommended Readings:

Carleton University: PADM-5117 (Public Sector Management and the Canadian Political System)

Savoie, Donald J., Court Government and the Collapse of Accountability: in Canada and the United Kingdom (Toronto: UofT Press, 2008). Chapter 12.

Leone, Roberto and Frank Ohemeng. Approaching Public Administration: Core Debates and Emerging Issues (Toronto: Edmond-Montgomery, 2011). chapter 8 (Should whistleblowing be encouraged in the public sector?)

Sandford Borins, “Loose Cannons and Rule Breakers or Enterprising Leaders?: Some Evidence about Innovative Public Managers,” Public Administration Review, 60 (Nov/Dec 2006), 6, 498- 507.

John Langford and Allan Tupper, “How Ottawa Does Business: Ethics as a Government Program,” in G. Bruce Doern (ed.), How Ottawa Spends 2006-2007: In from the Cold, The Tory Rise and the Liberal Demise. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006, 116-137.

Kenneth Kernaghan, “Encouraging ‘Rightdoing’ and Discouraging Wrongdoing: A Public Service Charter and Disclosure Legislation,” Commission, Research Studies, Volume 2, 71-114.

Demetrios Argyrides, “Good Governance, Professionalism, Ethics and Responsibility,” International Review of Administrative Sciences, 72, 2 (June 2006), 155-70.

Herman Bakvis and Luc Juillet, The Horizontal Challenge: Line Departments, Central Agencies and Leadership. Canada School of Public Service, 2004. http://www.myschool-

Jacques Bourgault, “Corporate Management at the Top Level of Governments: the Canadian Case,” International Review of Administrative Sciences, 73, 2, June 2007, 257-274.

Carleton University: PADM-5412 (Ethics and Accountability in the Public Sector)

Geuras, D. and Garofalo, C., 2011. Practical Ethics in Public Administration. 3ed. Vienna, VA: Management Concepts: Chapters 1 and 2.

CSPS. A Strong Foundation (Tait Report). Ottawa: Supply and Services, 1995, 7-15.

Kernaghan, Kenneth, ―Getting the Values Right (1997–2003,” TBS, June 2007, at:

Kernaghan and Langford, Responsible Public Servant, Chapter 1, 9-32.

Lewis, Carol W., ―Ethical Norms in Public Service: A Framework for Analysis. In Huberts, Leo et. al., Ethics and Integrity of Governance: Perspectives Across Frontier. Northampton, Mass.: Edward Elgar, 2008, 44-64.

Van Wart, Montgomery. Changing Public Sector Values. New York: Taylor and Francis Group, 1998. Chapter 1, 3-32.

University of Southern California: PPD-667 (Public Ethics)

Moore, Mark H. "Realms of Obligation and Virtue." In Public Duties: The Moral Obligations of Government Officials, by Joel L. Fleishman, Lance Liebman and Mark H. Moore, 3-31. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981.

Brady, F. Neil. "Feeling and Understanding: A Moral Psychology for Public Servants." Southern Review of Public Administration 7, no. 2 (1983): 220-240.

Lilla, Mark T. "Ethos, "Ethics," and Public Service." Public Interest, no. 63 (1981): 3-17.

Rutgers University Newark: 20:834:515 (Administrative Ethics)

Cooper, T. L., 2012. The Responsible Administrator: An Approach to Ethics for the Administrative Role. 6ed. CA: Jossey-Bass. Chapter 1

Geuras, D. and Garofalo, C., 2011. Practical Ethics in Public Administration. 3ed. Vienna, VA: Management Concepts: Chapters 1 and 2.  

University of Michigan: PubPol-580 (Values, Ethics and Public Policy)

Lynette Clemetson, “Homeland Security Given Data on Arab-Americans,” New York Times, July 30, 2004.

New York Community Media Alliance, “Department of Homeland Security Gets Census Data on Arab Americans—Decried as Violation of Trust,” Voices that Must Be Heard, web, Sept. 23, 2004. 8

Eric Lipton, “Panel Says Census Move on Arab-Americans Recalls World War II Internments,” New York Times, Nov. 10, 2004.

Hermann Haberman, “Ethics Confidentiality, and Data Dissemination,” U.S. Census Bureau White Paper, n.d. [2004], 1-14.

Martin Wachs, “Ethics and Advocacy in Forecasting for Public Policy,” Business and Professional Ethics Journal 9 (1990): 141-56

Jan Blustein, “Toward a More Public Discussion of the Ethics of Federal Social Program Evaluation,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 24 (2005): 824-46.

U.S. Office of Government Ethics, “Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch,” July 1, 2011 (skim)

American Society for Public Administration Code of Ethics (revised March 2013),

Ethics Resource Center, “National Government Ethics Survey” (2007), 1-18.

Sources: Carleton PADM-5117 Syllabus, 2014; Carleton PADM-5412 Syllabus, 2011; USC PPD-667 Syllabus, 2014; UMich PubPol-580 Syllabus, 2015; Rutgers 20:834:515 Syllabus, 2013

Sample Assessment Questions:

1.) What are whistleblower protection rules? Why do these rules exist, and why are they important?

2.) What is a conflict of interest? What is an apparent conflict of interest?

Page Created By: Ben Eisen 3 July 2013, last updated by James Ban 17 August, 2015

Important Notices
© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance