The role of discussion in the institutionalisation of a code of conduct/ethics with specific reference to the adoption of a code of conduct by the South African Police Service

Bernardo, Eric Terblanche (1998)

Thesis (M.Phil.) -- University of Stellenbosch, 1998

Thesis

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die uitgangspunt vir hierdie tesis was die deurslaggewende rol wat gesprekvoering kan speel in die suksesvolle institusionalisering en aanvaarding van 'n gedrags- of etiese kode. Met hierdie uitgangspunt is aanvaar dat kodes 'n opbouende rol kan speel in die kultuur van organisasies en groepe, maar ook in die persoonlike lewens van mense. Om egter duidelikheid te kry oor die wesenlike rol wat kodes wel kan speel, is die 'woordeskat' en die wereld van kodes bekyk. Daar word in die prak:tyk ervaar <lat begrippe aangaande etiek, kodes en die waardes wat dit omhels sonder respek vir die betekenisomvang daarvan gebruik word. Dit blyk belangrik te wees om te weet wat die begrippewereld is van 'n instrument wat staan aangewend te word as 'n stimulant vir etiese gesprekvoering. Hoewel kodes 'n mode-neiging geword het en kritiek gelewer is op die reklame-foefie wat deur sommiges daarvan gemaak is, is dit toenemend aangewend om juis die geloofwaardigheids- en legitimiteitskrisis van die openbare sektor en instansies wat diens van 'n sensitiewe aard lewer, te verlig. Vanwee die dialogiese aard van kodes is dit uiters geskik om gesprekke aangaande die herstel van 'n vertrouensverhouding te stimuleer. Kodes ontstaan in baie gevalle juis in tye van krisis; ook vanwee die korrupsie-krisis; en is daarop gemik om die doel en aktiwiteite van instansies en individue ten goede te omlyn. Die groot appel vandag op deursigtigheid en vertroue verskerp die rol wat kodes kan speel om juis aanvaarbare gedrag te bevorder. Die bespreking aangaande die aard en doel van kodes bet hierdie rol onderstreep. In die postmodeme era word kodes dan ook nie aangebied as 'n rigiede, sentrale middel van beheer nie, maar as 'n basis vir die inskakeling van alle betrokkenes by besinning en besluitneming. Bestudering van die literatuur beklemtoon die uitgangspunt van hierdie tesis. Geprekvoering en deliberasie behoort part en deel te wees van die hele proses van ontwikkeling en institusionalisering van kodes. Hierdie aktiwiteit beklemtoon egter die beperkinge van kodes, aangesien hulle nie op hul eie 'n legitimiteitskrisis of onaanvaarbare gedrag kan aanspreek nie. Kodes moet gerugsteun word deur sterk leierskap wat die kode en die korresponderende waardes promoveer en beskenn. 'Kampioene' van die kode en die kultuur waama geaspireer word, moet bemagtig word om die rol verder te neern. Die tesis beklerntoon <lat diesulkes op alle vlakke betrek moet word om deurlopende ondersteuning aan die projek te kan verskaf.Die proses behoort ook verder gerugsteun te word deur etiese opleiding waarin diskursiewe metodes 'n groot rol behoort te speel. Weens die groot druk om die vertroue wat in die diensleweraar gestel word, werd te wees, is heelwat besprek:ing aan 'integriteit' gewy. Sommige metodes soos die Kritieke Insident Tegniek en rollespel is bekyk om die waardevolle disposisie van integriteit in die praktyk te vestig. Ten slotte is die proses wat die Suid-Afrikaanse Polisiediens gevolg het om hul gedragskode te ontwikkel en te implementeer, bekyk. Sekere aspekte soos die deeglike bekendstelling van die kode, die skynbare gebrek aan behoorlike voorbereiding, die gebrek aan 'n program vir die vestiging van die kode op plaaslike vlak, die afwesigheid van 'kampioene' om dit te ondersteun, die interne en eksterne legitimiteitskrisis en die rol van godsdiens is bespreek. Uiteindelik is aanbevelings gemaak om te keer dat die kode vergete raak en stof opgaar. Die skrywer is, ten spyte van die afbrekende rol van die legitimiteitskrisis, oortuig dat die gedragskode, weens haar dialogiese aard, 'n broodnodige etiese bewusmakingsrol kan speel in die nuwe SAPS.

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The point of departure of this thesis was the decisive role which discussion can play in the successful institutionalisation and acceptance of a code of conduct or ethics. With this point of departure it was also assumed that codes can play an uplifting role in the culture of organisations and groups, but also in the personal lives of individuals. From the start it became clear that codes have the potential to create a discursive interaction between provider and recipient. Their very nature as a declaration of intent conveys the relationship in which the relevant parties stand towards each other. Codes are, therefore, contextual and ought to be applicable to the parties concerned. As they are also internal statements connecting users to the purpose of their profession or occupation, they possess the ability to promote ethical deliberation amongst own ranks. Their potential to establish relationships and build trust and cooperation make codes a worthwhile endeavour to adopt in order to curb teleopathy and self interest. Codes' versatility lies also in the fact that it can be used as a basis for increasing the ethical sensibility, knowledge and conduct of all involved in their utilisation. Their wide ranging use by corporations, organisations, groups and institutions; especially the last two decades of this century; emphasised their status as an effective measure. All the literature stressed the point, however, that codes cannot be effective on its own. Its discursive nature has to be exploited through discussions in peer groups, discussions lead by managers or leaders, ethics workshops and ethics training. This accentuates the necessity to continually reinforce acceptable values, norms and standards and their embodiment in acceptable conduct. Codes serve as the point of departure as well as the basis to keep this exercise alive. It is this capability of codes and the corresponding activity of making people aware of their ethical responsibility which interested the author. The potential of codes to sensitise or resensitise people who have become ethically numb or apathetic is a challenge which can have enormous benefits for a policing institution. Ethical vulnerable units should surely be 'debriefed' and resensitised for purpose and values they try to protect. The role of discussion is fundamental to this exercise. The author's belief that discussion can play a major role in the development and institutionalisation of a code has been confirmed by literature on this subject. Class discussions and meetings with officers on the code of conduct, its application and its institutiooalisation confirmed the contribution which such an interaction can bring about. Methods such as role play and the CIT have still to be researched to make it applicable for ethical discussions. Its potential, especially lastmentioned, to enhanceethical understanding and decision making is worthwhile to explore. The discussions and meetings held with members of all ranks revealed, however, that negativity, anomie and alienation makes meaningful discussion a futile event. Questions on the legitimacy of a code and its compilers mandate to impose it undermines the uplifting role of deliberation. There are, however, still many members who "have not given up on themselves" and are willing to make a contribution to keep the organisation in contact with its purpose. These champions have to be identified and equipped to further a culture of learning and deliberating. I believe that leadership in the sense of taking ownership of the desired values, norms and standards and integrating it into the daily professional life of the organisation is crucial. Only someone who believes in the value of the desired behaviour and who has the confidence to promote it, can encourage others to follow suit. Lastly the process· which the SAPS followed to develop and implement their was scrutinised. Some aspects such as the comprehensive launch and introduction of the code, the apparent lack of preparation, the lack of a program to instil the code locally, the absence of champions to support this, the internal external problems with legitimacy and the role of religion were discussed. The author believes that, despite the destabilising role of the crisis regarding legitimacy, the code of conduct will, through its discursive nature, play a welcome role of raising ethical awareness in the new SAPS.

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