ethics and leadership



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· Required

· Cooper, T. L. (2012). The responsible administrator: An approach to ethics for the administrative role (6th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

· Chapter 8: Safeguarding Ethical Autonomy in Organizations: Dealing with Unethical Superiors and Organizations

· Articles from Excelsior College Library:

· Merchant, R. M., Yoonhee, P. H., Wong, C. A., Schwartz, A., Sap, M., Ungar, L. H., & Asch, D. A. (2014). The 2013 US government shutdown (#shutdown) and health: An emerging role for social media (Links to an external site.). American Journal of Public Health104(12), pp. 2248–2250. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302118. Retrieved from /login.aspx?direct=true&db=sih&AN=99500484&site=eds-live&scope=site

· Lee, N. M., & VanDyke, M. S. (2015). Set it and forget it: The one-way use of social media by government agencies communicating science (Links to an external site.). Science Communication, 37(4), 533-541. doi:10.1177/1075547015588600. (Links to an external site.)

·  Qin, J. (2015). Hero on Twitter, traitor on news: How social media and legacy news frame Snowden (Links to an external site.). International Journal of Press/Politics, 20(2), 166-184. doi:10.1177/1940161214566709. (Links to an external site.)

· Seper, J. (2011). Grassley: Whistleblower cases stuck ‘in limbo’ under Holder (Links to an external site.). Washington Times, The (DC), p. 4. Retrieved from

· David, A. F. (2014). When a bold move ends in the basement (Links to an external site.). Washington Post, The (DC). Retrieved from // 39d12656-182f-11e4-9e3b-7f2f110c6265&site=eds-live&scope=site

· John, H., & David, F. (2014). VA whistleblowers receive settlements for retaliation (Links to an external site.). Washington Post, The (DC). Retrieved from

· Articles:

· Nadler, J., & Schulman, M. (2006). Whistle blowing in the public sector. (Links to an external site.) Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

· Johnson, C., & Stone, E. (2015). A decade after blowing the whistle on the FBI, vindication (Links to an external site.). NPR. Retrieved from 398518857/9-years-after-blowing-the-whistle-on-the-fbi-he-s-been-vindicated?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email& utm_content=20150415&utm_campaign=npr_email_a_friend& utm_term=storyshare

· Case:

· United States of America Merit Systems Protection Board. (2015, September 3). Savage v. Department of the Army, 2015 M.S.B.P. 51 (Links to an external site.) [PDF, File Size 157KB]. Retrieved from

· Module notes


· Required

· Websites:

· Office of Administrative Law Judges. (n.d.). OALJ whistleblower collection (Links to an external site.). Retrieved from

· OSHA. (n.d.). Whistleblower protection programs (Links to an external site.). Retrieved from

· Online video: Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. (2014, February 6). Social media and ethics: The challenges for government (Links to an external site.) [Video file] [5 min 45 sec]. Retrieved from [Closed-captioning available on YouTube]

Module 7: Module Notes: Ethical Autonomy

In Chapter 8, Cooper (2012) describes ethical autonomy as a public administrator placing limits on his or her administrative responsibility and organizational loyalty. There are two aspects to consider when an individual employee seeks to challenge an unethical organizational culture, including the multiple sources of organizational pressure and individual autonomy. Recall in Module 2 (Chapter 4) that administrative responsibility involves objective and subjective responsibilities, and these can sometimes come into conflict.

For example, when your supervisor takes part in unethical behavior, you may face a conflict between your fiduciary responsibilities and your responsibility to your supervisor.

If this conflict occurs, exercising ethical autonomy can be useful. As Cooper (2012) reminds us, the ultimate responsibility is to the citizenry, which is “expressed fundamentally through the U.S. Constitution and specifically through legislation,” as well as values espoused in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers and Anti-Federalist papers (p. 198). Ethical autonomy involves limiting administrative responsibility and organizational loyalty (Cooper, 2012).

Individual Autonomy

Cooper (2012) identifies three components of individual autonomy to aid employees in dealing with conflicting responsibilities and unethical organizations or supervisors. These are:

Macintosh HD:private:var:folders:z7:myr0nqzd0pl8y04h8pryb_8r0000gn:T:TemporaryItems:MPA604_M7_L1_G2_v1.jpgTranscending organizational boundaries

Macintosh HD:private:var:folders:z7:myr0nqzd0pl8y04h8pryb_8r0000gn:T:TemporaryItems:MPA604_M7_L1_G2_v2.jpgConstraining organizational power and protecting individual rights

Macintosh HD:private:var:folders:z7:myr0nqzd0pl8y04h8pryb_8r0000gn:T:TemporaryItems:MPA604_M7_L1_G2_v3.jpgMaintaining self-awareness of values, rights, needs, duties, and obligations within and beyond the organization (Cooper, 2012, p. 231).


Cooper, T. L. (2012). The responsible administrator: An approach to ethics for the administrative role (6th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Module 7: Module Notes: Whistle-Blowing

When faced with egregious behavior within their organization, public administrators may have to fulfill their obligation to the citizenry in a more extreme way—by whistle-blowing—which ostensibly is, as Cooper (2012) describes it, a breach of loyalty to the organization.

There are less extreme ways to express autonomy, which include:

· Confronting or reporting a supervisor

· Requesting either a one-time role change or a permanent role change

· Resigning from the position

Risks in Whistle-Blowing

You saw from the assigned articles that often employees are retaliated against after they blow the whistle on their employer, as was the case for Robert Kobus at the FBI and Paula Pedene at the Phoenix VA Hospital. Knowing that retaliation might occur is something employees should factor in when deciding to blow the whistle, as is the risk of the matter taking several years to be resolved.

Other Considerations in Whistle-Blowing

Other considerations include whether whistle-blowing will involve divulging classified or highly sensitive information, which was the case with Edward Snowden. In the first discussion board, you will debate the appropriateness of Snowden’s actions.

Module 7: Module Notes: Role of Social Media

Social media pervades our 21st century world and is something that public administrators cannot ignore. For the purposes of this course, social media includes social and professional networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, and microblogging sites like Twitter; also blogs, YouTube, and photo-sharing sites like Instagram.

Social media impacts the way public organizations can communicate with their constituents, and these platforms can be used as tools in the following ways:

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Macintosh HD:private:var:folders:z7:myr0nqzd0pl8y04h8pryb_8r0000gn:T:TemporaryItems:MPA604_M7_Role_v2.pngDescribe the agency’s ongoing activities

Macintosh HD:private:var:folders:z7:myr0nqzd0pl8y04h8pryb_8r0000gn:T:TemporaryItems:MPA604_M7_Role_v3.pngProvide links to additional information, etc.

Hashtags can quickly give a topic or news item traction and provide a centralized way for users to search and gather information on a topic.

There are pros and cons to using social media, which you will research and discuss in the second discussion board of this module.

Module 7: Module Notes: Social Media Policies

For now, let us examine one practical aspect that public administrators should consider for their organizations—having a social media policy.

Select each tab to learn more.

What to Include in Social Media Policies

The social media policy should outline acceptable and non-acceptable ways in which employees can use social media to communicate with the public. There are samples on the Institute for Local Government’s website at:

Institute For Local Government. (n.d.).Sample social media policies (Links to an external site.). Retrieved from

One example of a social media policy is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) procedures on “Using Social Media to Communicate with the Public.” These formal procedures indicate that there are separate procedures for using social media on the EPA intranet, called “Using Social Media Internally at EPA.”

A Key Distinction About Social Media Policies

One important distinction regarding social media policies, however, is between governmental and non-governmental organizational policies. Most social media content is generally considered speech that has First Amendment protections; therefore, government employers must be cautious about what social media content they seek to prohibit to avoid violating their employees’ or constituents’ free speech rights.


Note that not all content is protected, including when speech is obscene or discriminatory on the basis of race, gender, religion, and other protected classes. Commercial speech (i.e., advertisements) is given less protection than noncommercial speech. The facts of any situation have to be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. Good tips regarding moderating government social media pages can be found here:

Chawla, A. (2015). Moderating social media comments: Clearing the confusion (Links to an external site.). GovTech Social. Retrieved from

Legal Considerations

Other legal considerations are somewhat beyond the scope of this class, but are worth at least mentioning. They include:

· Employee privacy

· Defamation

· Disciplinary actions due to social media postings

· Employer liability for employees’ social media postings


M7D1: Edward Snowden – Hero or Traitor?

Many would argue that the ultimate expression of ethical autonomy is whistle-blowing. The stakes are even higher when the whistle-blowing involves disclosure of classified or highly sensitive information such as with Edward Snowden. In this discussion, you will debate whether Snowden is a hero or a traitor. You will also review the Qin article Hero on Twitter, Traitor on News: How Social Media and Legacy News Frame Snowden and discuss the social media implications involved with this example of public sector whistle-blowing.

Respond to the following:

· Pick a side and debate whether you believe Snowden acted appropriately or inappropriately in blowing the whistle on the NSA.

· Discuss your opinion on the role social media plays in whistle-blowing cases and how public organizations—government agencies or otherwise—should react to and/or use social media in the wake of a whistle-blowing incident.

Post your primary response (approximately 500 words)

M7D2: Social Media & Administrative Ethics

In December 2015, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated federal law, including anti-lobbying rules, by using social media to try to gain support for the agency having expanded regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act over ponds, ditches, and other waterways. The GAO found this use of taxpayer funds violated the law because the EPA sent government-sponsored messages without identifying them as coming from the agency, and by including in a blog post hyperlinks to other organizations that directly solicited readers to contact Congress in support of expanding the EPA’s enforcement authority.

Consider this use of social media by the EPA and watch the following video before responding to the following questions.

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. (2014, February 6). Social media and ethics: The challenges for government (Links to an external site.) [Video file] [5 min 45 sec]. Retrieved from

Respond to the following:

· Describe and analyze some of the pros and cons for public organizations using social media, including unique limitations involved with social media and government organizations.

· Research a real-world scenario that illustrates how social media helped or hindered a public organization. Summarize what you found and discuss how you would have handled the situation differently (or why you would have done the same).

Post your primary response (approximately 500 words)

M7A1: Case Study #4—Whistleblowers

For this written assignment, you will locate and analyze a case of public sector whistle-blowing not covered in the materials for this module. Before you begin writing, review Cooper’s concepts of ethical autonomy and ways to overcome the sources of organizational pressure from pp. 205–211 in Chapter 8.

Research a case of public sector whistle-blowing. In a three-page paper, summarize what happened both before and after the employee blew the whistle, identifying any particular organizational pressures or leadership styles that you believe might have contributed to the unethical behavior. Then, put yourself in the shoes of the whistle-blower, and apply an ethical decision-making model that you have used or researched during the course to walk through how this whistle-blower might have arrived at his or her decision to blow the whistle.

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