AuthorToleikiene, Rita
  1. Introduction

    Contemporary public administration organizations need good governance, i.e., high quality and efficient service provision as well as responsible, effective and transparent organizational management. Challenges raised over the past few decades together with the shift in the leadership paradigm have proven that the leader (the manager) must take more active roles (central agent of changes, entrepreneur and initiator of organizational innovations, motivator and personal example of morality and trust, etc.) in order to achieve the mission and goals of public administration organizations (Lee, 2020). The leadership is considered as the core of public administration's concern with the relationship between administrative structures and democracy (Ospina, 2017).

    Ethics management is a significant part of the management in the public administration organization. It identifies and codifies organizational values, determines the organization's identity, structures its decisions and behavior, and provides measures and instruments to mitigate/eliminate ethics problems, causing social-economic problems and creating preconditions for the low level of trust of society in public administration organizations (Snellman, 2015; Ondrova, 2017; Andersson, 2019). Local self-government institutions are the institutions closest to citizens, and need to respond to their needs and expectations in an ethical way. The existence of a political and administrative dichotomy at the municipal level assumes that both political and administrative layers are important for the formation and implementation of ethics management (Yang and Holzer, 2005; Farazmand, 2009; Georgiou, 2014; Hartley, 2018). A municipality as a public administration organization formulates and uses such instruments inside the organization too, which raises the trust of employees, and maintains a set of values, attitudes, feelings and beliefs, which could be shared among employees and framed by an organization's code of conduct and performance (Arbab and Mahdi, 2018). An integral system of ethics management in the municipality is one of the main instruments that would contribute to the integrity of the whole of a municipality's performance, first of all reducing corruption and promoting the expression of ethical values (Huberts and Six, 2012; Six and Lawton, 2013). It unites all measures, processes and structures needed for continuous and efficient activity of the system and the implementation of ethics management goals. The leadership plays the crucial role in ethics management processes, given that the leader can shape the organizational culture. Moreover, the fit between the leader's and employees' values can be transformed into a high-performance outcome, while employees observe, assess, and judge their leader according to the reflection of their own and their leaders' values and behavior (Arslan and Yener, 2020, p. 5).

    Despite the undoubted importance of the leadership in ethics management processes, there are just few studies conceptualizing the integral system of ethics management in a municipality (Maesschalck and Bertok, 2009; Maesschalck, 2011; Huberts and Six, 2012; Yuhariprasetia, 2015; Hoekstra, Huberts and Gaisbauer, 2016; Toleikiene and Jukneviciene, 2019), while the deeper analysis of the role of leaders in it remains absent. This clearly shows there is a research gap in the analysis of the role of leaders at political and administrative layers of municipality in the formation and implementation of the integral system of ethics management, which in turn leads to the scientific problem which may be stated by the following research questions: what is the role of leaders at the political and administrative levels of the municipality in the formation and maintenance of integral ethics management system, and what measures are used by them in the integral ethics management system?

    The aim of this paper is to present the role of leaders in the formation and implementation of the integral system of ethics management in the municipalities at the political and administrative levels. The tasks are: (1) to present the main features of the integral system of ethics management by emphasizing the role of leaders therein; (2) to disclose the role of mayor (political level) and director of administration (administrative level) to the formation and the maintenance of the integral system of ethics management in Lithuanian municipalities, identifying ethical behavior of leaders and the main used ethics management measures. Before addressing the research results, the present paper explored the concepts related to leadership and the integral system of ethics management, and thus provided the basis for the conceptual framework for the empirical study.

  2. Theoretical background

    2.1. Leadership and ethics management

    Leadership that is ethical is important for a variety of reasons, for a customer, employee, and the organization as a whole. Leadership is a crucial element in creating a positive ethical culture in organizations. Since the process of leadership cannot be separated from the person acting as a leader, the traits and behaviors of them are essential. So, the concept of leadership is important in analyzing how leaders can influence the organization's ethics (its policy, infrastructure, culture, climate, etc.). It is defined as a process of social impact in which a leader directs members of an organization toward a goal by personally demonstrating an example of valued qualities and encouraging employees to adhere to values, principles and standards he/she promotes (Bryman, 1992; Bedi, Aspaslan and Green, 2016; Downe, Cowell and Morgan, 2016).

    Various studies (Fu and Deshpande, 2012; Sajfert et al., 2017) show that leaders play an important role in the ethical behavior of employees, as the head of the organization sets an example by his/her behavior, thus forming an informal type of behavior that is treated as ethically appropriate. An ethical leader is characterized primarily by being a moral person (illustrated by a leader's traits, behavior, and how he/she makes decisions), and being a moral leader/manager (when a leader creates codes of conduct for others through guidance, clear communication, reward and disciplinary systems) (Trevino, Hartman and Brown, 2000).

    Leadership helps to create a 'moral organization' by institutionalizing values in the organizational culture (Lawton and Paez, 2015). When other social processes are not used, codes of ethics are also perceived as an insufficient tool to change or manage behavior. Codes do not work automatically; people must interpret them and translate them into action, so the success of codes depends on the culture of the organization. Thus, leaders with the power to promote and encourage the application of ethics, or who, to the contrary, refuse to apply or informally ignore codes of conduct, can play a significant role in either helping to establish a culture of ethics, or in the failure to establish such a culture (Hassan, Wright and Yukl, 2014). The problem is that the codification of ethics in documents with statements as a basis for communication and regulation cannot always fully capture and determine how decisions should be made in different situations where ethical problems arise (Jensen, Sandstrom and Helin, 2009; West and Davis, 2011). The development of the ethics climate is needed--the enabling of organizational members' perceptions that their organization values enforce ethically correct behaviors.

    It should be emphasized that relationships based on the law and on clear ethical standards in public administration organizations can create the ethics climate that is oriented to and relies on the paradigm of the effectiveness of public governance. Formal measures of ethics management usually dominate in organizations, where the core values are efficiency and effectiveness. The pursuit of efficiency in the organization does not always meet the standards of ethical conduct. Emerging ethical issues indicate a lack of consistency of practices and values within the organization. The implementation of ethical values can be possible just after the establishment of legal regulations in the practice of the organization. Such an approach of value implementation presupposes a gap between de jure and defacto. However, more effective informal measures can be used for the implementation of values, eliminating the gap between formal requirements and practice (Primec and Belak, 2018).

    2.2. Integral ethics management system in the municipality (1)

    Public administration organizations at the local level (municipalities) include political and administrative leaders. Most municipal leaders are council members or the mayor at the political level, the director of administration or the heads of departments or units at the administrative level. There are few leaders in an organization and they occupy a clear hierarchical leadership position from which they can leverage their impact on behavior. Mayors and heads/directors of administration are named as leaders of the municipality. The leaders are the central figures in ensuring the implementation of ethical initiatives based on a code of ethics, as well the awareness of political and administrative leaders is considered as the most essential factor for municipalities. At the political level, the judgment norms may derive from electoral mandate, party principles and concepts of the representative group, and at the administrative level they may derive from professional values and different goals such as efficiency and delivery (Downe, Cowell and Morgan, 2016). Thus, the strengthening of ethical behavior throughout the organization can be seen not only as a simple matter of implementing one code of ethics, but also as a struggle to defend the importance of a particular set of principles against other bases of a decision.

    An integral system of ethics management of local...

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