Perspectives Across Frontiers
New Horizons in Public Policy series
Edited by Leo W.J.C. Huberts, Jeroen Maesschalk and Carole L. Jurkiewicz
5. Judging a public oﬃcial’s integrity Frédérique Six and Leo W.J.C. Huberts INTRODUCTION In most democratic countries the integrity of public oﬃcials is occasionally questioned based upon allegations of misconduct or seemingly dubious decisions. Allegations of being corrupt, or at least having acted without integrity, are very serious allegations. They almost always are very damaging for the reputation of the politician or public servant and can lead to the end of his career. Because of this criticality, it could be expected that integrity researchers would have directed their attention to providing theory-based guidelines for judging a public oﬃcial’s integrity. This, however, has not been the case thus far. The argument here is that the present line of research regarding the integrity of public oﬃcials is incomplete. Greater clarity is needed in deﬁning the concept and addressing fundamental issues such as who is judged by whom and on what basis? Menzel’s (1999, 2005) insightful reviews of the existing public ethics and integrity literature showed that most research to date has focused on examining public oﬃcials themselves, the institutional ethical arrangements they are subjected to, and the broader ethical environment in which they operate. Insofar as these researchers have made judgments about a public oﬃcial’s integrity, they have relied either on legal convictions or on personal criteria/opinions (Dobel, 1999; Holbrook and Meier, 1993). For example, Dobel (1999) presented a set of criteria to be applied in several stages for judging the integrity of...
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