What Does Working in the Public Services Mean? Describing the public service ethos in practice

Parker, Steven (2016). What Does Working in the Public Services Mean? Describing the public service ethos in practice. In: Lawton, Alan; van der Wal, Zeger and Huberts, Leo eds. Ethics in Public Policy and Management: A global research companion. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 239–256.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315856865-14

Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to describe the different ways that the public service ethos (PSE) can be theorized, but importantly what this means for practitioners in public services. Discussions of the PSE have tended to focus on theoretical perspectives with a deficit in empirical research. The chapter is structured as follows. First, it defines the PSE. Second, it describes the PSE in practice under the three headings of: the meaning of the PSE; motivation for working in public services and public service values. Third, it proposes a theory of the micro, macro and applied PSE to help understand its complexity. Values are stated as central to public administration and policy, as reflected in recent literature on good governance in public services. Future research should investigate how the PSE is applied in practice, as well as identifying case studies.

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