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Means or Ends? Ethical Decision Frameworks in the Western Australian Public Service

Allan Peachment, Margaret McNeil, Geoff Soutar and Caron Molster
Journal of Business Ethics
Vol. 14, No. 8, Research on Business and Public Sector Ethics: An Austra (Aug., 1995), pp. 629-641
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25072681
Page Count: 13
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Means or Ends? Ethical Decision Frameworks in the Western Australian Public Service
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Abstract

The paper analyses results from a questionnaire-based survey of "ethical behavior" of members of the Western Australian Senior Executive Service. Relating to definitions of deontology (duty) and teleology (ends over means) the study examines the validity of three hypotheses on ethical behaviour/decision making frameworks. Longitudinal data is related to the 1983-90 WA Inc period. The study establishes that SES managers apply ethical frameworks in order to understand the meaning of: "ethical behaviour" and that there are groups of managers with distinct understandings of what constitutes ethical behavior which is reflective of particular ethics theories. Three groups of managers are identified: (1) emphasises teleology (2) focuses on external influences (rules, standards and codes) and (3) encompasses both teleology and external influences and, to a lesser extent deontology. Only this latter group is regarded as having an appropriate repertoire of potential responses to any given ethical dilemma. There is no support for the view that those beginning employment in the public service post 1984 adversely affected the ethical decision making frameworks of other senior managers.

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