Reclaiming public service ethics through algorithms: Implications for teaching and development

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Department of Humanities


The use of algorithms and automation of public services is not new, but in recent years there has been a step change in processing power and a decrease in the price of these technologies, which means we are seeing more widespread use. These advances are reframing our perception of what matters in ways that impact the ethical dimensions of day-to-day life. In turn, these changes challenge long-standing assumptions about public service ethics and how it is taught. In this multidisciplinary authored paper, we argue that public service leaders must be attentive to ethical questions that converge around adopting “data-driven” techniques, including algorithmic decision-making (). Algorithmic and technology focused ethics question assumptions about the current deficits within public service ethics pedagogy in public service programs and university programs and the future direction of the discipline. To do so raises longstanding but neglected questions about the public services’ role in the state and recovering what Rohr refers to as the ‘ethics of the office.’ This, we argue, will have implications for teaching public service ethics.

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Teaching Public Administration