Administrative Ethics

M2D1: Context of Administrative Ethics

This discussion provides an opportunity to examine a real-world example of an administrative context and its impact on a leader’s personal ethic and response to ethical dilemmas. In this discussion, you will also reflect on how the administrator could maintain a responsibility to the public and other stakeholders in the given context.

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Respond to the following:

  • Select a public organization with which you are familiar. Briefly describe that organization, identifying the administrative context in which its leadership operates.
  • How could or does the organization’s administrative context impact the way its leader’s design responses to ethical dilemmas that arise in the organization?
  • How can administrators effectively maintain their responsibility to the public and other stakeholders in the context you have described?

Post your primary response (approximately 500 words)

M2D2: Subjective & Objective Responsibility

Public administrators cannot separate themselves from the political role they play, and they have been given more discretion and more policymaking power than ever before. They face accountability in terms of their objective and subjective responsibilities. In this discussion, you will reflect on these responsibilities and decide how to make ethical decisions when these responsibilities are in conflict.

Respond to the following:

  • Describe what objective and subjective responsibilities exist for your current or desired administrator role.
  • Describe an incident where you faced, or could face, a conflict in meeting these responsibilities.
  • Analyze how you did or could make ethical decisions in the face of these conflicting responsibilities, weighing your personal beliefs, attitudes, and values against your objective responsibilities.

Post your primary response (approximately 500 words)

M2A1: Case Study#1—NASA & Columbia

On February 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas as it was re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The seven astronauts on board were killed and NASA faced intense scrutiny in the wake of this tragedy. The day after the launch, NASA officials discovered that a piece of foam had broken off the external fuel tank, potentially impacting the shuttle’s left wing and damaging some of the heat-shield tiles. The ethical dilemma created by the foam strike incident meant NASA had several options it could take regarding the possibility that Columbia might not survive re-entry. These included:

  1. Not finding out if the foam strike had damaged any tiles and not telling the Columbia crew.
  2. Finding out if the foam had damaged tiles, but not telling the crew.
  3. Finding out if the foam had damaged tiles, and telling the crew.
  4. Not finding out whether tiles were damaged, but warning the crew it could be possible.

In the paper for this case study, you will put yourself in the shoes of the NASA administrator making the final decision on this ethical dilemma. This should include consideration of the relevant administrative context and of your objective and subjective responsibilities in your role. Note that you should maintain your focus on yourself as the individual administrator, not on the organization as a whole. This case study will be used to examine ethics at the organizational level in a later module.

For this assignment, review this week’s materials on NASA and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster and conduct your own research. In a 3-4 page paper:

  • Describe the administrative context within which you as a NASA administrator would have been operating when making your decision about Columbia. Describe how this context impacted your decision.
  • Comment on the objective and subjective responsibilities you would have had as that NASA administrator.
  • Defend your decision using one of the ethical theories studied in Module 1.

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