250262 Ethical competence and moral capital in public health administration: Good for what ails us

Wednesday, November 2, 2011: 9:30 AM

Sherry E. Weingart, MPH , Division Health Policy and Administration, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, Chicago, IL
Daniel Swartzman, JD, MPH , School of Public Health, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
Public health administrators are attracted to the field by wanting to do “Good.” Soon, we find ourselves speaking more softly about our moral priorities, as political and fiscal “realities” are urged upon us. We decide to win what we can win, settle for less, and hope the worst is behind us. These lessons are only half right. As responsible stewards of precious public health assets, we must be practical and realistic, AND it is also the case that success for our efforts lies in wholeheartedly incorporating our morals into our organizational decision-making. Currently, we rely almost exclusively on rational and political models which we have internalized as the “best-chance bases” for our programs, on expediency-based models which “dis-courage” us from placing before stakeholders and constituencies the values agenda that underlie our joint efforts. Too often, we do not make plain the ethical bases for our practices and priorities. Drawing from the business literature on customer value propositions and on incorporating equity considerations in management of public health resources, this presentation offers a promising practical model for decision-making which can develop ethical competence and moral capital within our organizations. This approach balances the need for rationality in resource allocation, accountability and quality improvement with successful strategies for using our aspirational values to defend and advance public health programs. We enlarge our notion of what is “winnable”, and the output is an organization – and community - strengthened by frank consideration of how it puts its moral values into practice.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Public health administration or related administration
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
1. Differentiate rational/political models of decision-making from those which address public health values. 2. Explain how problem-solving concerning highly consequential administrative and leadership decisions can be improved by consideration of organizational values. 3. Assess the appropriateness of conducting a Values Identification Audit to deepen the organization’s ethical competence.

Keywords: Public Health Administration, Ethics

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My colleague/co-Author Daniel Swartzman, JD, MPH teaches Ethics and we both teach Health Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.