Public Service Ethics, Values and Spirituality in Ghana: Challenges and Opportunities

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Anthony Kumasey

Abstract

Concerns over the unethical conduct of leaders and public officials have led to the renaissance of interest in public service ethics and values. Although national and organizational systems and structures have been instituted to either eradicate or ameliorate dysfunctional behaviours such as corruption, sexual harassment and misuse of confidential information in public service organizations, the practices still persist – especially in developing countries, where the impact of such behaviour is more pronounced. The harmful effects of these behaviours on individuals, organizations and nations have led to a loss of confidence in public institutions, undermining the rule of law and leading to underdevelopment. Drawing from the Ghanaian perspective, this thesis empirically examined the extent to which ethics, values and spirituality can reduce unethical behaviours in the Ghanaian public service. Spirituality, for example, has the potential to stimulate the moral thoughts of individuals in dealing with ethical issues, thereby reducing unethical behaviour and generating positive organizational behaviour. Conceptually, the study was placed in the interconnection of public service ethics, values, workplace spirituality and unethical behaviour. Social capital and the principal-agency theories of public management were adopted as the study’s theoretical lens, social reality as its ontology and social constructivism as its epistemology. The thesis was therefore a qualitative multiple case study which employed semi-structured in-depth expert interviews, semi-focus group discussions and documentary reviews as the foremost data collection instruments. The findings revealed the perennial reoccurrence of unethical behaviours, which took various dimensions, including fraud and abuse of resources, moonlighting, destroying, altering or falsifying records, waste and misuse of official time, apathy, sexual harassment, payroll irregularities (especially the use of ‘ghost names’ on government payrolls), cash and procurement irregularities, and pilfering. The findings further revealed that low remuneration, poor leadership, the extended family system, the working environment and politicization of public service were the main causes of these behaviours. These causes were exacerbated by the weak and ineffective enforcement of rules and regulations, which was touted as main bane of indiscipline in the service. The findings on whether workplace spirituality could be deployed as a catalyst to reduce unethical behaviours were to some extent mixed, but support a call to employ spiritual reawakening in public service organizations as a panacea to overcoming these behaviours. From the theoretical lens, the findings reveal that the existence of these behaviours is characterized by institutional failures, inefficiency and nonadherence to traditional values. The study therefore recommends improvement in the conditions of service; inculcating professionalism in the conduct of public servants; and a ‘living’ code of conduct that is effectively implemented.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date1 Aug 2018