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Public management reform and the management of ethics: Incompatible ideals for the developing state?

Werner Webb (University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 5 October 2010

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between public management reform and ethics management in the South African public service. A case study, the Department of Correctional Services, is used to illustrate the impact of reforms. The paper sets the foundation for further research and debate on the topic.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is placed within the current theoretical discourse of corruption and its prevention. It is mainly the product of a literature review on the most recent publications on corruption and its prevention, as well as a survey of South African statutory and government publications and reports. With regard to the empirical research, a combination of qualitative and quantitative research approaches is used.

Findings

The paper is exploratory in nature. It sets the scene for further empirical research to determine the causal relationship between public management reform and ethics management in developing states. The haphazard implementation of management reform could lead to weaknesses in the management of ethics within the public service.

Research limitations/implications

In addition to the evaluation of literature and a description of the most recent theoretical work on corruption, this paper aims to engage in substantial empirical research. This component of the research project, however, is at its initial stage.

Practical implications

The paper provides a starting point for debate on ethics management within developing states. Developing states, in particular, are subject to the negative consequences of corruption. It is argued that public management reform should be approached with caution, as it could have adverse consequences for the management of ethics.

Originality/value

This paper describes ethics management in the South African public service within the international discourse of public management reform. It explores the relationship between ethics management and the public management reform agenda, specifically within a context of developing states.

Keywords

Citation

Webb, W. (2010), "Public management reform and the management of ethics: Incompatible ideals for the developing state?", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 23 No. 7, pp. 669-684. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513551011078914

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited