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Manuscript deadline
28 February 2021

Cover image - Public Management Review

Public Management Review

Special Issue Editor(s)

Michael Macaulay, Professor of Public Administration, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ
[email protected]

Stephen Teo, Professor and Associate Dean Management, School of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University, Australia
[email protected]

Tracey Wond, Head of Research, College of Business, Law and Social Sciences, University of Derby, UK

Milena Neshkova, Director of the Ph.D. Program in Public Affairs at Florida International University

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Public Service Ethics in the “New Normal”

This Special Issue of Public Management Review wants to looks broadly at how public service ethics is responding to changing environments.  Such changes are broad based and encompass political change, technological change, and perhaps most obviously social change.

Public service ethics is a branch of applied ethics that pertains to the values, behaviour and institutions of those working in public policy and/or public management. It has been the focus of numerous seminal texts (Rohr, 1989; Cooper, 1992) as well as myriad text-books (e.g. Lawton et al, 2012) and is a core area in research groups around the world, including permanent special interest groups at ASPA and EGPA, as well as representation in IRSPM and around the world.

This special issue asks what public service ethics looks like now, and how distinctive public service ethics approaches remain. It seeks to map out where the new flashpoints in public service ethics are, and what new dilemmas public servants face.  We want to explore how public services around the world are dealing with the ethical implications of disruption.

What is the challenge, for example, of social dynamics of progressive change, perhaps most notably the #metoo movement and increasing awareness and promotion of LGBT rights?  How do public servants respond to the political dynamic of increasing populism and a rise in authoritarian values that have perhaps been both cause and effect on the rise of “strongman” political leaders in both Western and Eastern jurisdictions?  How do new forms of media influence perceptions and practice in public service ethics?

Public policy and public management react to such changes in many different ways.  New policy models and frameworks have emerged, such as the rise of behavioural insights that potentially lead to new ethical challenges.  Public managers have worked through increasingly differentiated strategic and structural models of working. With institutions disaggregating and realigning in increasingly complex forms; hybridization and collaboration are becoming increasingly the norm while more formal institutional arrangements wither.

As new forms of governance have emerged we have witnessed a parallel rise in the ways we try to understand integrity and ethics, although responses to such changes have also been varied.  Some have called for new ethical lenses to be applied, such as Kirby’s (2018) recent argument for a new institutional focus on public integrity. We have witnessed the development of new integrity systems at the micro, meso and macro level..  This special issue sets out to explore the implications of such movements for ethics in public management, theory and practice.

For despite these trends, or perhaps because of them, scientific evidence about the nature, legitimacy, and ethics of new public management forms remains under-researched. As we move forward into the millennium the normative dimensions of public management need to be better understood and more clearly articulated.

This call for papers is intended to ask what a genuinely forward-looking, 21st century public service ethics looks like.  In particular, we are interested in the following questions:

  • Does public service ethics need to retain its own identity? Is it true to suggest that there is a discrete subset of ethics that we can label ‘public service ethics’ or do we need a more general understanding of ethics that we can apply to different contexts?
  • What have been the ethical challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic?  Ave leadership responses been appropriate?  What has been the balance between public outcomes and public duty?  Have any jurisdictions managed to implement an ethic of care?
  • How does public service ethics respond to technological change? From the use of drones as a means of warfare, to the potential impacts on public policy from increased robotization and Artificial Intelligence, what are the new ethical dilemmas that public servants face and how should they work through them?
  • What are the challenges of new forms of policy analysis and implementation? Has the rise of big data analytics brought up its own challenges? What are the ethical frailties behind the rise of behavioural insights?
  • Does social change impact on the legitimacy of the public service?  Have increasingly diverse forms of public participation had an influence on new forms of legitimacy in public governance, and if so how? Has the continuing reconceptualization of the citizen (as client, co-creator customer, etc.) impacted upon the way we frame ethical relationships with the state?
  • What are the ethics of public value creation? Is value creation ethically aligned to consequences and outcomes, or to process and process?  What the ethical leadership challenges for developing and creating co-creative interventions?
  • Is there room for a new institutionalism?  How have institutions coped with 21st century ethical demands?  How have new institutional forms evolved to deal with ethical conduct, anti-corruption activity, and standards of behaviour?  How does this sit alongside other structural approaches, or individual behavioural approaches?
  • How does public ethics and integrity reflect in the management of employment relationships (employment practices, attraction and retention, and performance management)? Will different types of employees be attracted to the new public sector environment and if so, what attracts them to work in the new environment and what will happen to the psychological contract of those who do not meet the new expectations?
  • Are there regional differences in the human resource implications in the era of public ethics and integrity?

Looking to Publish your Research?

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Submission Instructions

We welcome empirical and theoretical papers in the following areas that address these issues and others.  In so doing we hope to bring forth lessons that will be of practical benefit to policy makers and public servants, as well as promote academic rigor in this vital arena.


28 February 2021:  Paper submission deadline

March 2021:         Feedback on initial submissions

August 2021:        Submission of revised papers

November 2021:  Decisions on final papers to be accepted and submission of manuscripts

January 2022:      Publication of papers online

April 2022:            Hard copy publication of papers

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article