Promoting ethical behavior among local government employees: the roles of ethical leadership, ethics codes, training, and audits
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The purpose of this research was to learn the impact that ethics codes, ethics training, and audits have in promoting ethical behavior among local government employees. The research began with a survey of city auditors and finance department directors at all U.S. cities with a population of 100,000 or more. The survey results indicated that while ethics codes and training, and to a lesser extent, audits, do influence local government employees to be ethical, the most critical component of promoting ethical behavior is ethical leadership. The survey was followed up with a case study at a local government in the Midwest. During this phase of the research, 58 individuals were interviewed and asked questions about how their government's ethics code, training, leadership, and audits influence their work. Again, the research results indicated that ethical leadership is the most important factor in encouraging employees to be ethical. The interviewees also indicated they are influenced by ethics codes and training, and some of them said that audits also affect the way they perform their jobs. To gather more information about both the survey results and the case study information, interviews were conducted with 25 city auditors in ten states. Again, the auditors indicated that ethical leadership is the most important tool for promoting ethical behavior among employees. Most of them also argued that ethics codes and training are necessary to develop an ethical organizational culture. Some of them also said that audits are useful in this regard, particularly as an oversight to help monitor employee behavior. But others did not consider audits a good tool for promoting ethical behavior. They argued that few of their audits cover ethics specifically and as such, cannot be a tool for promoting ethical behavior.
Table of Contents
Introduction and literature review -- Survey results -- Case study results -- Interviews with city auditors -- Ethical leadership -- Creating an ethical culture -- Appendix A. Survey instrument -- Appendix B. List of cities surveyed