Public Interest and Ethics

Public Interest and Ethics

The articles have various conceptions with regards to public interest. Lewis (2006) asserts that public interest is more fruitful when viewed as a process instead of an objectively identifiable end point. Since it is a sweeping and elusive obligation, it is a process made more meaningful by the aspect of practice rather than by a product. Public interest ought to engage the values and duties of sustainability, mutuality, legacy and democracy (Lewis, 2006). Mutuality focuses on constitutional analysis, ascribed social needs, shared interests and common good. Democracy on the other hand, tends to sum the diverse aggregate demands and private interests.  Sustainability on its part is concerned with physical viability and universality. Legacy brings in the aspect of anthropology, civilization, culture among other things. Schubert (1957) postulates in the name of public interest; public servants should not follow their own conceptions while making decisions that influence the general public. No problem should be entrusted with a single administrative authority entirely. As a result, a public servant ought to consider the impacts his/her actions would have on the responsibilities of others. His/her actions should be consonant with the relevant agency’s policy at all times (Schubert, 1957). There should be open representations to those interested in the situation too.

When it comes to ethics, Limerick & Field (2003) assert that discussions about ethics have been blind on matters to do with gender. This is to say that ethics have been conceptualized from a masculine perspective, which means that women’s experiences have been excluded or downplayed. The aspect has resulted in the emphasis on bureaucratic rationality, hierarchical relationships, and individualism; aspects that resonate to the imperialist conception of morality. Ethics ought to be part of the management and individuals within an organization should always practice what they preach (Limerick & Field, 2003). Hanbury (2004) believes that there is a very big gap between how people should live and how they actually live. This is why most people fail to take necessary ethical responsibilities. Everyone in the organization ought to act ethically while executing their duties. Leaders should be on the fore-front in this quest since they set the tone for their employees. Employees are likely to follow in the footsteps of their leaders at all times.

ASPA code of ethics views public interest and ethics as aspects that should be appraised at a personal level. This would ensure that the needs of every individual are met. It eliminates instances whereby some people have to benefit at the expense of others. However, these individual aspects have to be unified using various tools to attain common objectives. The use of the constitution and upholding the law helps in this quest. Enhancement of democratic participation also plays a significant role.

My own understanding about public interest is that is a well-being or welfare of the general public. The public has a stake in the society that warrants protection, promotion and recognition by the government and various agencies involved. Public interest ought to be assessed impartially at all times. This puts into account that every individual in the society has the ability to be anyone. As a result, they could suffer or benefit from a given change. Public interest should embrace activities necessary for the welfare of the society and safety of the state. This includes aspects like education, police protection, defense, public health and sanitation.

Ethics on the other hand, involves the concept of defining what is right or wrong. It is the concept through which people derive the most appropriate ways of living their lives. It is more of an aspect that tries to resolve human morality. Things that people consider good or evil, justice or crime, virtue or vice among others. Ethics are usually shaped by a variety of factors. This includes people’s feelings, religious beliefs, law and standards of behavior in the society among other things.

The conceptions derived above can help assess the ethics and public interest relating to the management of California Department of Human Resources (CalHR). It is a government agency responsible for the human resource management of California state employees. Lewis (2006) outlined that public interest is more fruitful when viewed as a process. This is an aspect that CalHR puts into consideration while dealing with issues that affect employees. This is viewed in terms of the regulations made to this effect. They are usually flexible and keep changing from time to time. This means that the interest of employees keep on being re-evaluated and the best solutions are instigated as a result. It is more of a process that aims at ensuring the employees’ welfare has been enhanced all the time regardless of the changes in circumstances.

Schubert (1957) noted that for the sake of public interest, there is no single individual that should be tasked with a problem affecting the public entirely. CalHR seems to be working within this confine while promoting the welfare of employees. California Department of Human Resources has been divided into different departments that are tasked with a variety of duties. This ensures that different individuals are involved in making decisions that affect employees in one way or another. As a result, personal conceptions are not accorded room to influence public interest.

With regards to ethics, Hanbury (2004) believes that there is a big gap between how people should live, and how they actually live. This aspect is quite vivid when it comes to California Department of Human Resources. The ethical issue here revolves around how some employees get recruited. CalHR expresses in their website that the recruitment process is fair and open. Individuals seeking employment are required to take exams and the most qualified candidates are selected. However, the people that have worked at CalHR do not seem to share in this idea. There are people working there due to aspects of nepotism or other social ties. This is highly unethical since they have been hired at the expense of other qualified candidates.



Hanbury, G. L. (2004). A “pracademic’s perspective of ethics and honor:     Imperatives for          public service in the 21st century! Public Organization Review, 4(3), 187-204.

Lewis, C. W. (2006). In pursuit of the public interest. Public Administration Review, 66(5), 694-   701.

Limerick, B., & Field, T. (2003). Women’s voices on developing an ethical public service.             Gender in Management, 18(8), 398-405.

Schubert, G. A., Jr. (1957). “The public interest” in administrative decision-making: theorem,        theosophy, or theory? American Political Science Review, 51(2), 346-368.