Beyond hammurabi: A public service definition of ethics failure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This article expands the conceptualization of ethics failure in the study and practice of the public service. Various definitions of ethics failure are tied to the two central approaches, internal and external, to controlling ethics failure. The historical antecedents of these approaches are also discussed. Recent criticisms from the literature of conventional formulations of ethics failure, which focus on financial fraud and its legal controls and remedies, are discussed. The definition of ethics failure is taken beyond this traditional focus on financial fraud to encompass routine organizational errors that result in harm to individuals and systemic violations of justice, civil liberties, and human dignity. This expanded definition is accompanied by a six-fold taxonomy of ethics failure, which can serve to enrich research into ethics failure and organizational responses to these problems. Finally, suggestions for future research and policy directions are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-160
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'Beyond hammurabi: A public service definition of ethics failure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this