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Approach:

  1. Define Code of conduct.
  2. Substantiate view on whether to go for code of ethics or code of conduct.
  3. Give a balanced conclusion.

A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the norms, rules, and responsibilities or proper practices of an individual party or an organisation. Moreover, a well-written code of conduct clarifies an organization’s mission, values and principles, linking them with standards of professional conduct. The code articulates the values the organization wishes to foster in leaders and employees and, in doing so, defines desired behaviour. As a result, written codes of conduct or ethics can become benchmarks against which individual and organizational performance can be measured. A code is a central guide and reference for employees to support day-to-day decision making.

Code of conduct vs Code of ethics:

A code of ethics is usually a short statement of values and broad principles that provides overall guidance to public officials. It is value based or aspirational. In this sense, public servants and their managers are encouraged to agree upon the boundaries rather than specifics of expected behaviour, with the understanding that they will aim for the higher standards. Code of ethics cover all situations and are easier to remember but difficult to enforce. They are well-suited to organizations with a well-established professional ethos and homogeneous administrative culture.

A code of conduct is compliance based or disciplinary. In this sense, public servants are informed of minimum standards that must be observed, with clearly identified consequences for not doing so. Codes of conduct can’t anticipate all situations and tend to be long and difficult to remember but are easy to enforce. They are more appropriate for organizations with diverse professional identities and a heterogamous administrative culture. In reality, most codes are mix of the two approaches, though not necessarily in equal parts.

The success of codes also depends on approach to administration. New public management with an emphasis on outcomes rather than processes may favour the more flexible codes of ethics. Traditional public administration based on Weberian model of bureaucracies may favour the clearly defined code of conduct.

The overall approach to a code may depend on the general administrative basis of a country: convention/practice or codification. However, in diverse and large country like India both code of conduct as well as code of ethics is guidance to the public officials.

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