The Truth About Honesty


  • Dominic D. Wells Kent State University
  • Anthony D. Molina Kent State University



Honesty, Public Administration Ethics, Public Service Values


This article examines the ethics of honesty and deception in public administration. Building on previous research showing that public administrators rank honesty as an essential public service value but also sometimes use deception while carrying out their duties, semi-structured interviews with public employees were conducted to explore this apparent tension. Specifically, this study asks: Why is honesty important for public administrators? What is honesty and dishonesty? Under what circumstances is the use of deception by public administrators legitimate? The American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) Code of Ethics is used as an analytical framework to assess the cases and examples provided by participants. The article concludes with a discussion of some important implications that this research has for public administration practice, teaching, and research.






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