The responsible administrator by Terry L. Cooper 6 edition. Summary of Chapters 1-4
Chapter 1 Summary
Chapter one is the introduction of the book. The book focuses on the public administrator’s role in an organization environment and how ethical problems are addressed. The author explains to the reader what ethics is. Even if the author has offered various definitions of what ethics is, all definitions suggest that ethics is concerned with fairness in deeds in trying to shape the world. Therefore, ethics entails the study of moral status and conduct. Values, beliefs and principles of an individual are examined and analyzed to justify morality. Therefore, in relation to the conduct of an individual, is seen as a serious reflection on morality and involves affective aspects. Descriptive ethics tries to reveal fundamental assumptions and their connectedness to conduct. On the other hand, according to the author, normative ethics constructs defensible and viable arguments for a given course of action. The two main orientations upon which ethics can be viewed are deontological and teleological. While deontological approach focuses on an individual’s responsibility to given principles with no respects for the costs of the actions, teleological approach is concerned with the consequences of an individual’s conduct. As far as ethics is concerned, laws may be challenged on ethical grounds as an individual has to be accountable for his or her actions with an aim of showing commitment to the principles of ethics. This chapter has also discussed the responsibility and role of an administrator. According to the author, responsibility is used to define a mutual set of values amid individuals of differing traditions and cultures, while role is used as a means of packaging expectations and requirements associated with the contemporary world. The main problem that has been pointed out is that public administrators could be responsible, but may also believe that they are obligated to act differently. Talking about who responsible administrators are, the author says that they should account for their actions and be at a position to explain the consequences that results from the actions. It is therefore important to design a response to an issue that is capable of addressing the situation immediately, while also considering the wider organizational, social and legal context for permanent answers whenever faced by an ethical dilemma (Cooper 1-12).
Chapter 2 Summary
In chapter two, the author is concerned with making the reader understand ethical decision making process. One noteworthy assertion in the beginning of this capter is that ethical public service workers need a theoretical outlook on their role that should be established through professional experience, reflection and discussion with co-workers. What other people think is very important in professional ethics. To be at a position to think concerning ethical issues, administrators must be skilled (Cooper 13). He achieves this goal by discussing the ethical problems, where he says that many administrators may be at a position of identifying an ethical situation, but fail to deal with the problem ethically. The chapter has offered various ethical situations to illustrate how it might be hard for the administrators to make the right ethical decisions depending on the presenting situation. The decisions that might be made in each situation that presents to administrators may not necessarily be consistent from one case to the next. In general, public administrators should not be seen as comprehensive moral philosophers, but are only required to be rational and reflect systematically. The chapter has also explained ethics as an active process. It is always important to reconsider the moral code whenever the rules prove to be inefficient, especially if there is a conflict. This means that when defining an ethical dimension of an issue, the values in conflict may need to be teased as well as the principles that are unarticulated. For example, if the basic controlling principle is public interest, one might weigh how each alternative may impact the public. Moreover, the author has gone ahead to explain the various ethical decision making descriptive models through real-life examples. The descriptive model of decision making has been described to depict what individuals would have wanted the world to be (Cooper 32-43).
Chapter 3 Summary
Chapter three and four entail part one of the book, which is concerned with ethics related to individual administrators. Chapter three is concerned about contemporary public administration and shows the perspective of administrative ethics today. First, the administrative ole must be understood as it relates to the cultural and social context in which the administration functions. Today, the modern society is viewed as a melting pot where varying cultures and people integrate into one society. This means that the public administrators should comprehend the inter-subjectivity amid the different shard assumptions, values and beliefs when conducting their duties (Cooper 45-48). Therefore, it would be pointless to impose authority in the current world, because what really needs to be done is to agree on the different public aspects of life by engaging in governance debates. To clearly address this topic, Cooper first portrays the current modernity problems and their implications for public administrators. In the modern society, the social associations and personal identity have become very complex. The current society is different from the previous one as work no longer balances easily in people’s private lives. On the other hand, based on bureaucratic rationality, the government tries to provide standardized goods and services, thereby alienating the diverse citizenry even further. As a result, public administration has hugely been impacted as it tries to separate administration from politics. The society divergence has produced a turbulent situation for administrators making it hard to remove public administration from political strife. In addition the chapter discusses political theory in explaining administrative ethics. Public officials should think critically every time to develop working ethics or character by making decisions all the time concerning ethical issues. It should be noted that a decision not to undertake any action is actually a decision concerning personal responsibility (Cooper 51-69).
Chapter 4 Summary
This chapter is concerned with explaining administrative responsibility as it relates to administrative ethics. The chapter discusses objective and subjective responsibility. Public administrators do what they do, and are the authors of what they do and not anyone else. Therefore, this means that in the end, they are responsible that their actions have occurred, and this kind of responsibility is what Cooper calls objective. On the other hand, that the public administrators are responsible for their actions does not signify that they are also held responsible by other individuals for what they did. This is to mean that it is not necessary that they are made to be accountable for the conducts that were objectively their responsibility. According to the author, one reason why the administrators are not held subjectively accountable for what they did is that their actions could be simply ignored by other people. In addition, people are authors of certain actions, but the accountability idea does not usually apply. Some of the actions by public administrators are just normal and there should be no reason to discuss these actions in terms of responsibility. It could also be argued that the public administrators cannot be made liable for their objective actions because they were forced to do them so that not them, but the persons that forced them to do so are made liable for their actions. Viewing this distinction between objectivity and subjectivity, it can be said that public administrators like other individuals are objectively accountable for the constructive side effects as well as the unconstructive side effects of their intentional actions, but are only subjectively accountable for the latter. The author strengthens the understanding of the reader through the use of a case study on Mrs. Carmichael (Cooper 72-92).
Cooper, Terry L. The responsible administrator: An approach to ethics for the administrative role. John Wiley & Sons, 2012.