- About project
- Results and Awards
- Affiliate Programs
- International services
PECULIARITIES OF ETHICS AND WORKING CULTURE OF THE EMPLOYEES IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR
Renaldas Tatoris, PhD candidate, Lecturer
Dalia Perkumiene, PhD candidate, Lecturer
Kaunas University of Applied Sciences
The article analyses peculiarities of ethics and working culture in public sector. Authors try to reveal and evaluate the specialities of the ethic and working culture of the Klaip?da municipality employees.
Conflicts in the work of public sector officers are the negative appearance, because of their negative impact on the person itself and the people around - customers, colleagues. It has negative impact on the efficiency of work, communication, working atmosphere.
Keywords: working culture, ethics, employees, public sector.
Ethics covers various areas of life: personal, public and professional relations. Personal ethics studies the well-being of certain individual and his development methods. Social ethics emphasizes well-being of society, duties of individual persons in the society. In the professional ethics main attention is paid to the behaviour of the representatives of special field (Raipa, 2001).
Employees working in public sector inevitably stuck with ethic and working culture problems. Perhaps even more often that the representatives of other fields, because they are constantly communicating with people, help them to solve their problems every day, inform people about new products (Wagner-Tsukamoto, 2005).
When having some contact with employees, people judge the morality and working culture of higher officers and all sector according to their behaviour (Chen, 2005). Therefore ethic and working culture of public sector employees should be as high as possible. Ethic is important not only in communication with customers (external environment), it's important also internally in the organization, in the mutual relations between colleagues and staff members (Palidauskait?, 2001).
Ethical problems might cause various different consequences. Some of them are solved almost unnoticed; the others have strong impact separate persons or organizations. Ethical problems might occur and disappear or have continuous character.
The purpose of the work – to disclose importance of ethics and working culture of the employees in the Klaip?da municipality sector.
Object of the work – ethic and working culture of the employees.
Methods of the work – analysis of scientific literature, analysis of legislation, survey with questionnaire, statistic analysis of the data, graphical modelling, specifying and summarizing and logical abstraction.
In our everyday life we use notions of ethics, morality, virtue and other similar quite widely. However not always we think about their content and significance. Sometimes we refer these notions in wrong places, very often we identify them, use them as synonyms. However we shouldn't mix these notions and divide them: ethic is a field of certain knowledge, science; morality and virtue – are its research subjects (Kulik, 2005).
From a historical perspective, the cultural norm placing a positive moral value on doing a good job because work has intrinsic value for its own sake was a relatively recent development (Lipset, 1990). Work, for much of the ancient history of the human race, has been hard and degrading. Working hard-in the absence of compulsion--was not the norm for Hebrew, classical, or medieval cultures (Rose, 1985). It was not until the Protestant Reformation that physical labour became culturally acceptable for all persons, even the wealthy.
Concept "Ethics" has its background from ancient Greek word "Ethos". This word meant in the beginning usual place of living (in the poems of Homer) later it acquired new meanings: "habits, temperament, custom, character" (Fassin, 2005).
The work ethic is a cultural norm that places a positive moral value on doing a good job and is based on a belief that work has intrinsic value for its own sake (Cherrington, 1980; Quinn, 1983; Yankelovich & Immerwahr, 1984). Like other cultural norms, a person's adherence to or belief in the work ethic is principally influenced by socialization experiences during childhood and adolescence. Through interaction with family, peers, and significant adults, a person "learns to place a value on work behaviour as others approach him in situations demanding increasing responsibility for productivity" (Braude, 1975, p. 134). Based on praise or blame and affection or anger, a child appraises his or her performance in household chores, or later in part-time jobs, but this appraisal is based on the perspective of others. As a child matures, these attitudes toward work become internalized, and work performance is less dependent on the reactions of others.
Another significant factor shaping the work attitudes of people is the socialization which occurs in the workplace. As a person enters the workplace, the perceptions and reactions of others tend to confirm or contradict the work attitudes shaped in childhood (Braude, 1975). The occupational culture, especially the influence of an "inner fraternity" of colleagues, has a significant impact on the attitudes toward work and the work ethic which form part of each person's belief system.
According to a researcher (Randall & Cote, 1991; Fodor, 1990), work ethic can induce employees to be highly involved in their jobs.
Ahmad (1976) argued that the Islamic work ethic stands not for life denial but for life fulfilment and holds business motives in the highest regard. Consequently, it is more likely that those who believe in Islam and practice it tend to be more committed to their organizations and presumably more satisfied with their jobs.
Work ethics– of whatever variety– involve the ascription of value to work. Work is valued as the means to some end . And, being bound up with the attainment of some state of affairs which is valued, people are motivated to work (Gay et al, 2007).
Besides work ethics, another important thing that comes under consideration which influences organizational commitment is organizational culture. In today organization environment, corporate culture is used as powerful tools to quantify the way a business functions (Gray et al., 2003).
The work ethics, as we know today, is a secularized construct derived from Max Weber which is written in his writing more than 100 years ago. Protestant work ethics has been widely used as an explanation for the successful of capitalism in Western (Hill, 1995), even though Islam has emerged globally but Muslim societies are very much influenced by Western work ethics, and Malaysia is not exceptional.
Ethics is not simply a glorified intellectual game, of no practical relevance. We become moral individuals, as Aristotle says, by practice; good at being truthful by habitually telling truth; becoming characteristically honest by trying always not to be dishonest (Vallance, 2001).
Ethic is a matter of science, validating moral issues rising between human being and surroundings, in the mutual relations of human beings, among people related by various connections (Ku?inskas, 2003).
Lithuanian authors present various descriptions of ethics. G. Ber?inskas (2002) describes the ethics as a philosophy of morality, theory, the human activity which purpose in internal perfection of the personality.
D. Vy?niauskien? (1999) in the book "Verslo etika (Business ethics)" provides with this kind of notion of ethics: Ethic is practical philosophy talking about human behaviour in his practical activity. V. Ku?inskas (2003) defines the ethic as a subject of science, validating moral issues, rising between human being and his surroundings, mutual human relations and relations among human beings related to each other by various connections; it's a branch of philosophy analysing values and evaluating human acts.
Each system functions following the order stated (Gudas, 2000). Processes of social system and procedures and their handling are defined by certain documents.
Culture is the environment that surrounds you at work all of the time. Culture is a powerful element that shapes your work enjoyment, your work relationships, and your work processes. But, culture is something that you cannot actually see, except through its physical manifestations in your work place (Heathfield, 2010).
An organization’s culture is made up of all of the life experiences each employee brings to the organization. Culture is especially influenced by the organization’s founder, executives, and other managerial staff because of their role in decision making and strategic direction (Heathfield, 2010).
In order to disclose importance of ethics and working culture of the employees we have chosen municipality of Klaip?da region for the research. Empirical research survey was performed in order to find out the ethical and working culture problems of the employees of public sector, municipality of Klaip?da region, when the employees were interviewed. The period of the research – January – March 2010.
There were investigated 100 employees working in Klaip?da municipality.
After the analysis of the empirical research data was done it can be stated that 67% of the respondents are familiar with legal regulations regulating ethics of the employees and working culture, 14% – partly and 19% unfamiliar.
Asked how they understand what the ethic is most of the respondents – 73% answered that ethics is a science about the norms of behaviour, morality. 13 % stated that this is science researching morality and virtue. Although there were presented descriptions of ethics of various authors (all given answers were correct) he majority chose most often used, most widely spread notion of ethics that the ethics is a science researching morality.
Even 87% of the interviewed stated that they are following special rules of ethics and working culture in their job, 13% didn’t knew anything about such rules.
In Fig. 1 we can see the spread of the opinion of the employees concerning what should follow the officer when performing his job.
Fig. 1 Spread of the answers of the respondents what should follow the employee when performing his job
65% of the interviewed think that they should follow professional values and standards, 18% – ethical standards, 17% – organizational values. It shows that professional and organizational values are more important for the employees of public sector than personal ones. This is a good sign because that is the difference of the officers in public sector from the officers in private sector.
The opinions were spread more or less equally concerning the question which principle of public service is hardest to implement. It can be seen in Fig. 2.
Fig. 2 Spread of the answers of the respondents which principle of public sector is the hardest to implement.
The hardest is to take personal responsibility for 46% of the respondents, it is hard to obey to the laws and implement them for 30% of the employees. As one of the employees has mentioned it is the hardest part to obey to the laws, because laws are changing constantly, and sometimes they are really very confusing, complicated and absurd. 24% of the interviewed stated that the hardest thing is to serve for public interests.
It is thought that the activity of the employees public sector should be honest. It means that it should be fair, open, correspond to the existing norms of behaviour and always increase the welfare of people. However sometimes under certain circumstances the situation requires not to be completely open ad tell the real truth because of completely understandable good intentions or precautions. Sometimes the circumstances make us say that the silence is best thing, sometimes it is thought that “the truth should be used economically”; sometimes it’s better to lie or to confuse.
Most of respondents negatively valuate giving or acceptance of gifts, or grafts, because they treat it as a beginning of corruption (56%), attempt to bribe, to gain the employee to the side (44%).
To the answer what is a gift for the job done 80% of the respondents answered that its flowers, the others have mentioned candies, verbal or written thanks, special literature, helping to perform the job better, souvenirs.
All employees who participated in the survey confirmed with one accord that they treat as graft money, most some other material values; the others have mentioned drinks, souvenirs, candies.
The research which was done helped to know the ethical and working culture problems of the employees of Klaip?da municipality; to find out their point of view to the ethical problems, they actions when facing one or another kind of problem.
1. Ethic and working culture in the work of public sector is nonetheless important than in the work of other professions, because they have to communicate with people every day.
2. Work culture change is a process of give and take by all members of an organization. Formalizing strategic direction, systems development, and establishing measurements must be owned by the group responsible for them.
3. Conflicts in the work of public sector are the negative appearance, because of their negative impact on the person itself and the people around - customers, colleagues. It has negative impact on the efficiency of work, communication, working atmosphere.
4. The employees of Klaip?da municipality who participated in the survey agreed with the opinion that the standards of ethics applicable to the public officers are stricter than those applied to ordinary citizens and also the proper image of the employee helps to support public confidence in service.
5. After separate evaluation how men and women stuck with ethical problems it appeared that men stuck with ethical problems quite rare (66%), women stuck with ethical problems very often (27%), or quite often (27%). Employees who have been working at public sector for 10 or more years stuck ethical problems more often as well. The salary and education has no influence.
1. Ahmad, K. (1976). Islam: Its meaning and message, Islamic Council of Europe, London.
2. Ber?inskas, G. (2002). Ethics in the life and business. – Vilnius.
3. Braude, L. (1975). Work and workers. New York: Praeger.
4. Cherrington, D. J. (1980). The work ethic: Working values and values that work. New York: AMACOM.
5. Chen, S. (2005). A Social Exchange Perspective on Business Ethics: An Application to Knowledge Exchange.//Journal of Business Ethics, Nr. 62.
6. Fassin, Y. (2005). The Reasons behind Non-ethical Behaviour in Business and Entrepreneurship.//Journal of Business Ethics, Nr. 60.
7. Gay, P., Pryke, M. (2007). Cultural economy. – Great Britain, Athenaeun press, Gates head.
8. Gray, J. H., Densten, I. L., & Sarros, J. C. (2003). A matter of size: Does organizational culture predict satisfaction in small organizations. Melbourne, Australia: Working paper 65/03, September, Faculty of Business and Economics, Monash University.
9. Gudas, S. (2000). Modelling organization activity. – Kaunas: Technologija.
10. Heathfield, S. M. (2010) What is organizational culture? Prieiga per Internet?: http://humanresources.about.com/od/organizationalculture/a/culture.htm
11. Ku?inskas, V. (2003). Ethics of the leader. – Klaip?da.
12. Ku?inskas, V. (2003). Ethics of leadership. – Klaip?da.
13. Kulik, B.W. (2005). Agency Theory, Reasoning and Culture at Enron: In Search of a Solution.//Journal of Business Ethics, Nr. 59.
14. Lipset, S. M. (1990). The work ethic - then and now. Public Interest, Winter 1990, 61-69.
15. LR Valstyb?s tarnybos ?statymas (Law of Lithuania Republic Public Service)// Valstyb?s ?inios. – 2002. Nr. 45.
16. LR Vyriausyb?s nutarimas D?l valstyb?s tarnautoj? veiklos etikos taisykli? patvirtinimo ir kt.// Valstyb?s ?inios. – 2002. Nr. 65.
17. LR Civilinis kodeksas (Civil code). – Kaunas: Poligrafija ir informatika, 2001.
18. Palidauskait?, J. (2001). Ethics of public administration. – Kaunas: Technologija.
19. Perkumien?, D., Raupelien?, A., (2008). Ethics and Working Culture of the Employees in Public Sector VDU, Organizacij? vadyba: sisteminiai tyrimai, 2008. Nr. 46. P. 99-117. ISSN1392-1142.
20. Quinn, J. F. (1983). The work ethic and retirement. In Barbash, J., Lampman, R. J., Levitan, S. A., & Tyler, G. (Eds.), The work ethic: A critical analysis (pp. 87-100). Madison, Wisc.: Industrial Relations Research Association.
21. Raipa, A. (2001). Public administration. – Kaunas: Technologija.
22. Randall, D. & Core, J. (1991), Interrelationships of work commitment constructs, work and occupations. Vol. 18 (2), pp. 194-211.
23. Rose, M. (1985). Reworking the work ethic: Economic values and socio-cultural politics. London: Schocken.
24. Vallance, E. (2001). Business ethics at work. –Great Britain, Cambridge University press.
25. Vasiljevien?, N. (2000). Business ethics and codes of behavior. – Kaunas.
26. Vy?niauskien?, D., Kundrotas, V. (1999). Businesh ethics. – Kaunas: Technologija.
27. Wagner-Tsukamoto, S. (2005). An Economic Approach to Business Ethics: Moral Agency of the Firm and the Enabling and Constraining Effects of Economic Institutions and Interactions in a Market Economy.//Journal of Business Ethics, Nr. 60.
28. Yankelovich, D. & Immerwahr, J. (1984). Putting the work ethic to work. Society, 21(2), 58-76.