GOOD GOVERNANCE CODE, WORK ETHICS AND ATTITUDINAL CHANGE IN PUBLIC SECTOR
By SIMON PETER, F.AILGG |26 FEBRUARY 2019
Recently the terms "governance" and "good governance" are being increasingly used in development literature. Bad governance is being increasingly regarded as one of the root causes of all evil within our societies. Major donors and international financial institutions are increasingly basing their aid and loans on the condition that reforms that ensure "good governance" are undertaken.
This I wish to explain in this paper, as simply as possible, what "governance" and "good governance" means.
WHAT IS GOOD GOVERNANCE?
The concept of "governance" is not new. It is as old as human civilization. Simply put "governance" means: the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). Governance can be used in several contexts such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance and local governance.
Good governance has 8 major characteristics. It is participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law. It assures that corruption is minimized, the views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making. It is also responsive to the present and future needs of society.
PRINCIPLES OF GOOD GOVERNANCE
Participation by both men and women is a key cornerstone of good governance. Participation could be either direct or through legitimate intermediate institutions or representatives. It is important to point out that representative democracy does not necessarily mean that the concerns of the most vulnerable in society would be taken into consideration in decision making. Participation needs to be informed and organized. This means freedom of association and expression on the one hand and an organized civil society on the other hand.
- Rule of law
Good governance requires fair legal frameworks that are enforced impartially. It also requires full protection of human rights, particularly those of minorities. Impartial enforcement of laws requires an independent judiciary and an impartial and incorruptible police force.
Transparency means that decisions taken and their enforcement are done in a manner that follows rules and regulations. It also means that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. It also means that enough information is provided and that it is provided in easily understandable forms and media.
Good governance requires that institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholders within a reasonable timeframe.
- Consensus oriented
There are several actors and as many view points in a given society. Good governance requires mediation of the different interests in society to reach a broad consensus in society on what is in the best interest of the whole community and how this can be achieved. It also requires a broad and long-term perspective on what is needed for sustainable human development and how to achieve the goals of such development. This can only result from an understanding of the historical, cultural and social contexts of a given society or community.
- Equity and inclusiveness
A society’s well being depends on ensuring that all its members feel that they have a stake in it and do not feel excluded from the mainstream of society. This requires all groups, but particularly the most vulnerable, have opportunities to improve or maintain their well being.
- Effectiveness and efficiency
Good governance means that processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs of society while making the best use of resources at their disposal. The concept of efficiency in the context of good governance also covers the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of the environment.
Accountability is a key requirement of good governance. Not only governmental institutions but also the private sector and civil society organizations must be accountable to the public and to their institutional stakeholders. Who is accountable to whom varies depending on whether decisions or actions taken are internal or external to an organization or institution. In general an organization or an institution is accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions or actions. Accountability cannot be enforced without transparency and the rule of law.
TEN PRINCIPLES THAT PROMOTE GOOD CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
- Roles and Responsibilities - The need for clarity
- Ten Principles that Promote Good Corporate Governance
- Board Composition - The right group of people
- Mission and Strategy - An appropriate vision, purpose and set of strategies
- Risk - Recognition and management, appropriate risk oversight
- Organisational Performance - A focus on effective use of resources
- Board Effectiveness - Appropriate board structures and processes
- Integrity and Accountability - The right information at the right time
- Organisation Building - Build and maintain organisational capability to deliver on purpose
- Culture and Ethics - A healthy culture in the boardroom and throughout the organisation
- Engagement - Effective stakeholder engagement
KEY PRINCIPLES AND GOOD GOVERNANCE CODE FOR THE PUBLIC SECTOR
The function of good governance in the public sector is to ensure that entities act in the public interest at all times.
- Acting in the public interest requires:
- A. Strong commitment to integrity, ethical values, and the rule of law; and
- B. Openness and comprehensive stakeholder engagement.
- In addition to the requirements for acting in the public interest, achieving good governance in the public sector also requires:
- C. Defining outcomes in terms of sustainable economic, social, and environmental benefits;
- D. Determining the interventions necessary to optimize the achievement of intended outcomes;
- E. Developing the capacity of the entity, including the capability of its leadership and the individuals within it;
- F. Managing risks and performance through robust internal control and strong public financial management; and
- G. Implementing good practices in transparency and reporting to deliver effective accountability.
COMMON GOOD THE HALLMARK OF GOOD GOVERNANCE
The Common Good is the sum total of all the ingredients that make for a stable and healthy society. “It involves those conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily” (Gaudium et Spes, No 26).
- The Common Good includes the provision by government of access to - Education, basic needs, health, and infrastructure, access to resources, justice, fair treatment, security, and guarantee of the rule of law, constitutional freedoms and democratic rights.
GOVERNANCE IS ABOUT VALUES AND THEY MATTER
- Governance is about values. Values are a set of core beliefs as to how we should or ought to behave in a broad range of situations.
- A leaders greatest challenge is to embed values in the organization’s culture. It is dangerous to ignore this challenge.
- The best form of governance is self- governance. The best business is Ethics. The best government is transformational because it impacts on the largest number of the population.
RESPONSIBILITY OF CITIZENS
- Citizens are bound to support and collaborate with their legitimate government and show love of fatherland (patriotism), respect for the laws of the land; respect for government and the leaders of State; willingness to sacrifice; payment of rightfully legislated taxes; avoidance of corrupt practices which undermine the progress and ecology of a sane and free society; protection of the environment and security of their nation whenever called upon to do so.
In a nutshell, “Governance” opens new intellectual space. It provides a concept that allows us to discuss the role of government in coping with public issues and the contribution that other players may make. It opens one’s mind to the possibility that groups in society other than government (e.g. ‘communities’ or the ‘voluntary sector’) may have to play a stronger role in addressing problems.
- The central conclusion is that a universal set of principles for defining good governance can be fashioned and that the strength of their universality rests to a large extent on the body of international human rights and laws. In addition, these principles can be usefully applied to help deal with current governance challenges.
- WORK ETIHIC
Work ethics is the application of moral principles, standards of behavior, or set of values regarding proper conduct in the workplace as individuals and in a group setting
- Ethics allow you to distinguish the difference between right and wrong
THE ESSENTIALS: Every organisation is different but they all should take the following into consideration:
- Good work ethics
Some good work ethics expected in every work place include but not limited to:
- Staying productive
- Being accountable for ones actions
- Taking initiative
- Thinking critically to be able to solve problems
- Blowing the whistle when you notice wrong doings
- Being punctual
- Staying positive
- Staying professional
- Taking pride in own work
- Immediately attempting to correct an issue, when they go wrong
- Setting the example for others
COOMON UNETHICAL PRACTICES IN PUBLIC SERVICE
- Indulging in Corruption in high places by colluding with politicians, contractors, corporate groups etc.
- Committing Petty bribery
- Misuse of power for personal benefits
- Biased decisions to favour influential persons
- Pilferage of public funds from government schemes and projects
- Manipulation/withholding of information
- Deliberate delays in service delivery
- Non-application of mind, negligence and dereliction of duty
- Collusion with tax payers to cheat the public exchequer Intellectual dishonesty
- Not speaking truth/hiding truth to please bosses out of fear of reprisal
- Misuse of government facilities
- Cover up of - Crime, Frauds and Financial irregularities
- Being a party to electoral malpractices etc.
- Abdication of responsibility and passing the buck
Good ethics should be encouraged while as much as possible discouraging wrong doing. The following suggestions will help a great deal:
- Ensure: fair consequences and fair treatment
- Recognise good practices and communicate good work ethics expected of employee (be clear and consistent)
- Have office policies
- Ensure transparency
- Provide training
- Have plans of action
- Give constructive feedback
However, the public expects a high standard of morality from the public/ civil servant which include:
- Humanism and positive thinking in government servants
- To imbue purity in thought, speech and action
- Realizing the dignity of being a government servant
- Appreciating his/her placement in government as an opportunity to serve the society rather than a lucrative position to amass wealth
- Understanding the sanctity of Public Funds so that they utilize them without leakages thereby providing maximum benefit to the citizens
- Ability to satisfy himself/herself with the government salary and benefits and to imbue the philosophy of ‘Simple living and high thinking’
- Display of ‘Sense of justice and impartiality’ during decision making,
- Ability to stand up to truth despite adversity, fears and threats
- Develop self-confidence & faith in oneself and in one’s ideas even if everyone condemns them as wrong
- Motivate them to be the change they want to see in the society
- Fresh thinking, renewed energy and rejuvenation to do something extra-ordinary and useful to the society
- Empathy for citizens, especially for vulnerable sections of society such as women, children, elderly and differently able persons.
- Inculcate ‘Rational thinking’, ‘Self-accountability’ and ‘Self transparency’ which are benchmarks of ethical conduct.
- Finally, to motivate the employees to adhere to higher ideals in life and to walk on the path of truth and righteousness, come what may, and become a role model for others in the society
THE VALUE QUESTIONS?
Our responses to the value questions posed by the society and the various demands on us every day will actually determine whether we are ethical or not, regardless of the rationalization of bad moral values in our society today
- A Teacher without proper values will sell grades for sex and money;
- An Engineer without sound values will build roads and utilities that will neither endure nor give real service;
- An Architect without values will design buildings that will collapse and kill their occupants;
- A Judge without values would be a stranger to justice, selling and buying ex-parte motions, and standing fair conduct on its head;
- A Politician without values will be an opportunist in the corridors of power - greedy, malevolent, deceitful, master of double speak, dishonest and above all, dangerous to the nation’s well being; and,
- An Accountant without values will substitute “expediency for priority, imitation for innovation, cosmetics for character, style for substance, and pretence for competence” (Covey, 2003). He soon becomes a terrible chef, good at “cooking” accounts books and falsifying records, an embezzler, a dealer in stolen goods, and a pretender who glories in the wealth of others.
ATTITUDE AND ATTITUDINAL CHANGE IN PUBLIC SECTOR
Attitude is a complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings and values and dispositions to act in certain ways. (Princeton University)
and may include:
- (1)The arrangement of the parts of the body posture;
- (2a)a mental position with regard to a fact or state (b) a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state;
- (3) an organismic state of readiness to respond in a characteristic way to a stimulus (as an object, concept or situation). (Merriam-Webster’s Medical Desk Dictionary, 3rd Edition)
THEORIES ON ATTITUDINAL CHANGE
- Persuasive communication:
The theory suggests that:
- Changes in attitudes can result in the absence or presence of rewards.
- Acceptance or resistance to an attitude or opinion is dependent on the incentives/rewards that are offered in communication with those involved.
(Hovland, Janis & Kelly, 1953)
- Balance Theory
- When beliefs are unbalanced, there is a disruption in equilibrium of a system and then pressure to change attitudes.
- The two main factors that affect balance are sentiment (liking, approving, admiring) and unity (similarity, proximity, membership).
- People will try to maintain consistency among their beliefs and make changes when this does not occur. (Abelson, 1968)
- Attitude change is caused by conflict among beliefs.
4. Planned Behavior
- Attitudes influence behavior along with two other factors:
- Perceptions of social norms
- Beliefs about one’s personal ability to perform a specific behavior. (Diclemente and Crosby, 2002)
5. Congruity Theory
- Assumes attitudes are simplistic and tend toward extremes (proven false).
- Assumes that if a liked and disliked object become related, the feeling toward both will become more neutral. (Osgood and Tannen, 1960)
TIPS FOR IMPROVING YOUR OWN ATTITUDE
- Don’t associate with people who have hostile attitudes, you might get infected
- Remember others
- Practice optimism and positive self-talk (inner voice).
- Dwell on positives.
- Maintain perspectives/choose battles carefully.
- Give others the benefit of the doubt.
- Become a problem-solver.
- Be alert.
- Utilize self-control.
- Mange stress.
- Stay physically healthy
ON THE JOB ATTITUDINAL CHANGE TIPS
- Lead/teach/support by example-be a new positive cure for yourself and/ or others; your voice, both internal and external needs to portray the new positive attitude; look for creative ways to make tasks more interesting; try sharing or trading tasks; ask for more responsibilities; adjust your schedule to best mange boredom.
EFFECTIVE SELF IMPROVEMENT TIPS FOR INDIVIDUALS IN ORGANISATIONS
- First and foremost-be honest with yourself.
- Recognize warning signs (negative thoughts, blaming behavior, pessimism).
- Use positive affirmations.
- Visualize your day before it begins
- Write down your goals.
- Put your head in the game and focus.
- Think about a successful person you admire.
- Avoid naysayers who shoot you down.
- Practice, practice, practice.
FINALLY…., Principles matter in public service and governance
To make a stand for what is right for others is one of the most self-defining things LEADERS can do. Time is of essence in ethical leadership and management is by example. A spontaneous sense of obligation by the leader to do the best for the people is a key factor for sustainable development competitive advantage. Good leaders co-ordinate people and resources through inspiration to achieve development both at institutional and national levels. The leader’s own personal ethics and trustworthiness are essential to his tasks and success as well as that of the group and the society at large.
It all begins with you and I.
Thank you for your attention
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