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Nepotism in the Work Place

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Purpose I Systems: Intro to Public Administration

Prof. Piro Rexihepi

David Moore

This essay will discuss the behavior demonstrated by "Nepotism in Public Administration" detailing the negative effects the of cronyism and problems associated when people hire their relatives or friends for employment.

According to Nadler and Miriam Schulman (2006) as favoritism is the broadest of these related terms, we'll start with its definition. Basically favoritism is just what it sounds like; it's favoring a person not because he or she is doing the best job but rather because of some extraneous feature-membership in a favored group. (1 st.para )

Friel (2004) states, favoritism can be demonstrated in hiring, honoring, or awarding contracts. A related idea is patronage, giving public service jobs to those who may have helped elect the person who has the power of appointment (para. 5).

Friel (2004) also states, Favoritism has always been a complaint in government service. In 2002, a survey from the federal government's Office of Personnel Management found that only 36.1 percent of federal workers thought promotions in their work units were based on merit. They believed that connections, partisanship, and other factors played a role (Para. 13).

Cronyism is a more specific form of favoritism, Friel (2004) referring to partiality towards friends and associates. As the old saying goes, "It's not what you know but who you know." Cronyism occurs within a network of insiders-the "good ol' boys," who confer favors on one another (para. 19).

Nepotism is a breach of employment ethics in the worst way. Because relatives will be treated differently than regular workers, they will not be held accountable to the same standards as the employee because they are related to the person who hired them.

Moreover, Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman (2006) refer to nepotism as coming from the Italian word for nephew; it covers favoritism to members of the family. Both nepotism and cronyism are often at work when political parties recruit candidates for public office (para. 21). What do favoritism, cronyism, and nepotism have to do with ethics?

One of the most basic themes in ethics is fairness, stated this way by Aristotle: "Equals should be treated equally and unequal's unequally." Favoritism, cronyism, and nepotism all interfere with fairness because they give undue advantage to someone who does not necessarily merit this treatment.

Furthermore in the public sphere, (Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman 2006) states that favoritism, cronyism, and nepotism also undermine the common good. When someone is granted a position because of connections rather than because he or she has the best credentials and experience, the service that person renders to the public may be inferior (Para. 23).

Also, because favoritism is often covert (few elected officials are foolish enough to show open partiality to friends, and family), this practice undercuts the transparency that should be part of governmental hiring and contracting processes.

What ethical dilemmas do favoritism, cronyism, and nepotism present?

Judy Nadler and Miriam Schulman state that probably the biggest dilemma presented by favoritism is that, under various other names, few people see it as a problem. Connections, networking, family-almost everyone has drawn on these sources of support in job hunting in the private sphere (2006).

Friel (2004) asserts that everyone can point to instances where cronyism or nepotism is an accepted fact of life in political sphere, as well. John F. Kennedy, for example, appointed his brother Robert as attorney general. Every president and governor names close associates to key cabinet positions (Para. 42).

Mayors put those they know and trust on citizens committees and commissions. Friends and family can usually be counted on for loyalty, and officeholders are in a good position to know their strengths.

So what's the problem?

The first issue is competence. For cabinet level positions, Friel (2004) states that an executive will probably be drawn to experienced, qualified candidates, but historically, the lower down the ladder, the more likely for someone's brother-in-law to be slipped into a job for which he is not qualified (Para. 44).

The American Civil Service Act was passed in 1883 in large part because so many patronage jobs, down to dogcatcher, were being filled by people whose only qualification for employment was their support for a particular party or candidate.



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