Table of Contents

Ethics and Integrity of Governance

Ethics and Integrity of Governance

Perspectives Across Frontiers

New Horizons in Public Policy series

Edited by Leo W.J.C. Huberts, Jeroen Maesschalk and Carole L. Jurkiewicz

This book provides critical, up-to-date reviews on the field of ethics and integrity of governance, along with fresh future perspectives. Focusing on Europe and the US, it addresses the key dimensions of public service values, the integrity and rationality of governance, ethics management, and the ethics of governance politics. In each of these four areas, leading international scholars tackle the main issues and controversies facing the world today. The final chapter synthesizes these views and provides an ambitious and critical outline for future work in the field of ethics and integrity of governance. Emanating from the much heralded ‘transatlantic dialogue’, this study integrates both the European and American perspectives into a common voice for action.

Chapter 6: Ethical Leadership and Administrative Evil: The Distorting Effects of Technical Rationality

Guy B. Adams and Danny L. Balfour

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies, politics and public policy, leadership, public policy, regulation and governance


6. Ethical leadership and administrative evil: the distorting effects of technical rationality Guy B. Adams and Danny L. Balfour INTRODUCTION This is a tale of two leaders. Both owe their reputation and careers to their membership in the Nazi party and their participation in the tragedy of the Holocaust, yet they are remembered fondly, albeit for very different reasons. One, Wernher von Braun, engaged in acts of administrative evil, but managed to achieve considerable success in his career as a rocket scientist. The other, Oskar Schindler, failed repeatedly in his professional and personal life but is remembered as an ethical exemplar, a hero who saved many lives. Their stories poignantly illustrate the paradox of ethical leadership in modern organizations, in which ‘good’ leaders and managers need not be ethical, and ethical leaders run the risk of being marginalized and even ostracized. These cases show that how society judges an individual’s ethical behavior is less a result of the behavior itself than of the social and cultural context in which it occurs. THE CHALLENGE OF ADMINISTRATIVE EVIL We have written extensively on the nature and characteristics of what we call administrative evil (Adams and Balfour, 2004). The central issue for this chapter is that despite an extensive literature on public service ethics, there is little recognition of the most fundamental ethical challenge in modern organizations: that is, one can be a ‘good’ and responsible professional or administrator and at the same time commit or contribute to acts of administrative...

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