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Civil servant identity at the crossroads: new challenges for public administrations

Daniel J. Caron (École Nationale d'Administration Publique, Quebec, Canada)
David Giauque (Public Management Unit, Haute École Valaisanne, Sierre, Switzerland)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 1 October 2006




To compare and contrast the changes introduced in Canada and Switzerland as a result of public management reforms and explore the ethical challenges they entail.


This is a case study of two countries based in part on secondary sources but also on observations made by the authors.


The strategies used in each country are different reflecting their distinct political institutions. But there is a commonality, namely the emergence of new ethical problems related to the changes under way. Each country has tackled these new ethical challenges in similar ways. Individual and group behaviour of both Canadian and Swiss civil servants is regulated through “external controls” (codes of ethics, rules of conduct), but also by means of the socialization of new professional values (quality of customer service, flexibility, innovation, creativity, efficiency and effectiveness). These external controls and new values are insufficient, however, to allow civil servants to develop their own capacity for ethical deliberation, an essential condition for enhancing ethical behaviour in modern public administrations.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are not based on a systematic comparative study and can only therefore be interpreted as indicative.


The writers offer an interesting model relating to methods of behaviour regulation in an ethical public service and the need to ensure that the public good and the public interest remain at the core of public servants identity.



Caron, D.J. and Giauque, D. (2006), "Civil servant identity at the crossroads: new challenges for public administrations", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 19 No. 6, pp. 543-555.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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