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Rethinking the Role of Integrity at Public‑Private Sector Interface : Coherence or Confusion.

Mapping a New Vision for Africa at the Dawn of the New Millenium
John W. Forje

Texte intégral

Conflict of interest

1Rethinking the role of integrity at the public‑private interface ‑ mapping a new strategy for Africa beyond the 21st century imply that something is wrong within the existing paradigm and metaphor of activities. A state of conflict exists which could either be one of zero‑sum or positive sum. Druckman (1993 : 25) notes :

"The structure of conflict refers to the sources or types of conflict that have been the subject of experimental research ; interests, understanding, and ideology or beliefs. Each source has been a focus of studies designed to investigate the effects of the size of conflict or attempts by disputants to resolve their differences. While size or intensity or conflict is the primary independent variable in the studies, it is defined differently for each source due largely to differences in experimental paradigms used in the investigations."

2The prevailing negative view of the state of integrity of public‑private interface could be attributed to the levels of decaying moral ethics and poor relationship between state and civil society. Bad management is often associated with low moral rectitude, conflict between individuals and state arising very often from the infringement of individual rights. Thus a conflict of interest arises which reflects a discrepancy in preferred outcomes to self and others which often manifest in a competition for tangible resources or rewards. The extreme case of conflict is when one person’s gains are directly proportional to another’s losses, referred to as zero‑sum outcomes. For example, the game of poker. The opposite situation exist when one’s gains are equal to those of another, referred to as positive outcomes. For example, the game of charades. In each of these circumstances, three types of variables need consideration :

  • perception of players ;

  • the way conflict is created by manipulating the structure of the situation, for example, the extent to which they view the situation as competitive ;

  • the players behaviour which may be indexed, for example, as the number of cooperative or competitive choices made.

3The exercise of arbitrary power in Africa typically by political leaders who have usurped and come to represent state power is ail too common a part of the failure of public management and good governance within the continent. The integrity of public‑private interface is inherently linked in different ways. A relationship that cannot be separated, yet one that breeds constant tension and conflicts. This helps to scare off potential investors. The outcome is simple and clear. The society finds itself constantly in a state of perpetual underdevelopment even in the midst of abundant human and natural resources.

4Seen in this light, there is a need for fundamental rethinking about the roles of government, organizations and citizens in policy formulation. It requires widespread interest in reforming government and finding new ways in meeting citizen’s aspirations and needs.

5The paper is an attempt to examine the impact of policy on citizenship and democracy. It envisions a democracy in which policy plays a new role ; to empower, enlightens and engages citizens in the process of self‑governance and sustainable development. The goal is to identify as well as promote more effective public policies that can best balance or integrate the public and private sectors in a new and different ways of meeting and providing citizen needs within the framework of available resources. A number of specific objectives seem clear, namely :

  • the need to refocus policy analysis on questions of citizenship and democracy ;

  • provide insights into how the social construction of public policies affects the targets of these policies and the success of policy initiatives ;

  • research on government restructuring and its impact on the effects of community related activities over time ;

  • suggest concrete strategies to enhance the role of citizens in the democratic process without sacrificing or compromising morality, productivity and efficiency.

6Rethinking the role of integrity at the public‑private interface envisages an approach to provide citizens a great opportunity to participate in the governance of public services and the policy‑making process ; and citizen civil‑society attitudes towards policy‑making and services offered by the system.

The subtle message of policy formulations

7By rethinking the links between citizenship and public policy, the paper strive to expand the borders of policy analysis ; and to highlight valuable tools to increase citizen participation and improve the effectiveness of public services. In the same vein, one can be skeptical of markets to achieve social policy goals because reliance on markets produces inequalities in citizenship. However, good policy and market incentives can improve service access among poor or disenfranchised groups and enhance citizen empowerment. The public and private sectors are interlinked in various ways, they cannot exist without each other, but at the same time their relationship causes tension.

8An underlying element of the state of tension is "policy" which can make or unmake many things. The ability of an ideal policy is to foster democracy ‑ efficiency productivity ‑ to galvanize collective efforts to overcome barriers of different disciplines, ideologies, institutions and geographic locations. The argument is that the seeds of many of the contradictions within and between public and private sector interface related to public participation and citizenship are sown by policy issues and pattern of implementation. The perspective is that policy creates politics and affects citizen orientation and participation.

9Of course, policy formulation sends messages about what government/private corporation is out to accomplish ; which sectors of civil society are deserving and underserving, and what sort of participation is appropriate in democratic or functional societies. Different target populations receive quite different messages. Policies that have had bad effects on the members of some target groups or are ineffective in solving their problems may not produce a political reaction because such policies also deliver affective messages that encourages them to pursue narrowly construed interests.

10Lowi's theory (1964, 1972) contends that "different types of policy which confers benefits directly on identifiable groups, tend to encourage patterns of mutual non‑interference and will result in the production of policies serving private rather than public interests. "

11Within the public sector, different levels of government share authority for the implementation of policies. The traditional problem of control in the government system (federal or centralized) is how to implement policy effectively when the relation between levels of government is based on bargaining rather than hierarchy. Secondly, a different type of policy implementation is that of public policy by non‑public entities. Whether non‑profit or for profit organizations are involved, the problem is how to control the behaviour of people who are not public servants and whose loyalty, in addition to serving their clients is either to the prosperity of their own firms or to their non‑profit calling.

12The third aspect of integrity within and between public‑private interface is that of "ethical rectitude" and "moral behaviour" ; how civil society ‑ citizens compot themselves to uphold moral norms and values in the discharge of their responsibilities. Normative and ethical questions are uncreasingly prominent in the development of new products, the conquest of new markets, policies towards sustaining previously captured markets and the influencing of government decisions. Equally relevant in this connection is the role of public administration particularly in developing countries paying attention to questions of integrity. How should civil servants and politicians behave ; what values should be conveyed ; what contacts and relationships are acceptable ; how does public integrity relate to the ethics of the market place and in public administration ?

13That there is a growing resurgence of interest on moves to prevent or at least, limit the degree of all forms of unethical practices including corruption and fraud in the public and private sectors in the African continent is no surprise since most African countries rank high on the global list of most corrupt nations in the world. There is an urgent need to tackle the problem of fraud and corruption in both the public and private sectors. Redressing the existing state of corruption will attract foreign investors and investments which the society badly needs. It will also stimulate generation of domestic resources for development activities.

14The need to address these problems can be x‑rayed from many perspectives and reasons for example ; (i) the exploding degree of corruption, fraud and other unethical practices in many African countries which earns the name "the most corrupt continent ;" (ii) interest not only focused on unethical practices in public institutions but the private sector organizations as well. In some countries, Cameroon for example, there is the unholy marriage between public and private officials in institutionalizing corruption. The banking sector is most affected by this unholy alliance. So also parastatals. This marriage of destructive convenience to enrich individual interest at the expense of society jeopadizes economic and political institutions. The collapse of the banking sector in Cameroon, for example, Cameroon Bank, SCB, Crédit agricole, BIAO to name but a few ; and (iii) it could also be seen from a more universal focus engulfing both developed and developing nations, i.e. unethical practice is not a phenomenon common only to African countries . It is a common human malaise. But this should not be an escape route for African countries to maintain the top‑most position as the most corrupt continent.

15This postulation challenges Weber and Riggs typologies and assumption that high level of corruption will be associated only with underdeveloped countries due to their patrimonial authority structures, whereas, in legal‑rational systems of the industrialized western nations, unethical practices are presumed to be theoretically absent. In other words, unethical practices abound in the industrial nations as well (Theobald 1992). But since Africa is highly noted for copying wrong things from the West, unethical practices has been institutionalized and legalized in every facet of the word throughout the continent ; (iv) an important feature which equally is disturbing is whether present interest in unethical practices ‑ public and private sectors ‑ points to any greater emphasis on the internationalization of economic crisis, crime and corruption.

16Looking at it from the African perspective, two factors remain eminent, namely (i) the penetrating impact of economic recession that has affected the continent since the 1980s (Africa's lost decade). The social and economic impact of World Bank's imposed structural adjustment measures has brought serious untold hardship in society ­retrenchment policies, employment stop, salary reductions and other austerity measures which often affects the social, health and economic sectors of government activities : devaluation of currencies.

17In the case of Cameroon, there was a 70% salary cut (1993) unpaid two months salaries July‑August 1993 ; and in 1994 January, 100 percent devaluation of the CFA francs ; and (ii) the growing impact of information and communication technology. Modern communication and transportation innovations have assisted in the internationalization of corrupt and fraudulent practices. Large scale financial scandals, money laundering, cartels, drug and mafia organizations are some of the activities that have penetrated or implicated both the public and private sector organizations.

18These an other related developments impact on the renewed interest in addressing unethical practices. It should be added here that the wind of democratic change blowing across the continent pushes the issue of unethical practices in public and private sectors to the forefront. One important way of strengthening the emergence of democracy in Africa is to develop strong institutions for promoting good governance and management backed with effective control mechanisms throughout the continent (World Bank 1992).

19The concern with ethics in both the public and private sectors ought to focus on the right and proper behaviour of all officials ‑ civil servants, managers, politicians as well as civil society. It involves perception, attitude, behaviour, culture, responses etc. which go to construct what could be perceived as ethics constituting part of the non‑material resource of a society. The over bearing evidence of ethical violations in African public and private sectors calls for ways and means to find sustainable answers to sustain such issues as ; why has ethics in public and private sectors not only been neglected but rejected in African public institutions ? Why is government slow in taking adequate measures to eradicate the problem and restore order and confidence in the system ?

20Olowu & Rasheed (1993 : 3) note that, rather than perceived as complementary to one another, ethics and accountability have become antonyms in African public administration practice. Ethics ought to provide the basis for accountability. The concept and the basis for accountability is expected to make public officials responsible for their action or inaction. It is supposed to increase the transparency of government, emphasize and enhance governmental responsiveness and legitimacy and improve policy implementation.

21It is not out of place to equate accountability in government with the discipline of the market in business which again cements the issue of ethics and integrity at the public‑private interface. Failing to address these fundamental problems by African governments and the private sector, streamline the fact that widespread ethical violations and weak accountability only help to destroy effectiveness, efficiency and the image of government and corporations further. Public organizations received their life‑blood from legislative, executive and judicial collectives in an organized society. For the private sector, this life‑blood comes from the board of shareholders. The legislative, executive and judicial branches of national governments and the board of shareholders are the basic units of public and private organizations. For all of society's organization (private and public) questions still arise concerning the fairness and efficiency of public organizations ‑ questions that contribute to these organizations' administrative entanglements.

22Any organized society exists in an environment of equal rights and unequal incomes. Conflict between these two phenomena result in tensions between political principles of democracy and the economic principles of capitalism. African states have so far demonstrated great weakness in marrying the two together. For example, most western societies are democratic with a capitalistic economic system. Thus in keeping with their democratic political philosophy, elections are held : in keeping with their economic philosophy, they let supply and demand decide who achieves financial success. In this way, they develop a spirit‑level institutional structure because of the combination of democracy and capitalism. The outcome of a spirit‑level institutional structure is that private institutions value efficiency, while public sector institution favour confusion in the name of equality.

23Efficiency gives the top‑producers priority, and equality gives everyone priority. Because of government's dominance in the economy of African countries, both the private and public sectors are common bedfellows, on the common grounds of wrong political principles of democracy and the economic principles of capitalism backed with the general state of poverty within civil society, makes glaring the level and degree of corruption, inefficiency, and unethical practices which more or less are institutionalized and legalized in society.

24Furthermore, in any organized and structured society, the public sector is grounded in political equality with consideration for every one's opinion, seeking consensus, compromise and democratic participation. The private sector is based upon economic efficiency seeking definitive results, rationality in decision‑making and maximization of profit. Public administration, then, differ in significant ways from private corporate administration. These differences hinge largely on the greater legal accountability of the former compared to the flexibility of the latter. Determining which sector is the most efficient remains a complex question subject not only to variance in products and procedures but also to difference in progress and processes.

25The values of equality and efficiency are always in conflict. The pursuit of efficiency necessarily creates inequalities. It is often the role of the public administrator to step in if one of these values begin to supersede the other. It is here that public administrator's regulatory powers come into play. In African countries these regulatory powers are used not for enforcing coherence but establishing confusion and chaos which further leads to the state of conflict between equality and efficiency. Okun (1975 : 119) states, "the market needs a place, and the market needs to be kept in its place."

26The market is kept in its place by the limited regulatory powers of public administrators but when public administrators are the architects of corruption and unethical practices, then integrity, confidence and development, cannot be realized within the society. This in nutshell explains the state of Africa's underdevelopment ; a situation which is sustained on the notion of equality being sacrificed for the sake of efficiency, and efficiency for the sake of equality which has never been known in this part of the globe. The preceding disclosure begs the question ; what provisions exist to protect the individual's rights in a confused market‑driven economy and undemocratic governance system ?

27Any organized democratic society promotes equality by maintaining social and political rights that are allocated equally and designed to be distanced from the market place of supply and demand. For example, due process in a constitutionally mandated environment guarantee that governments in democratic societies will act with fairness, justice, equity and reasonableness ‑ irrespective of economic considerations. Accused criminals seek fairness through due process in prosecution procedures. Equal opportunity is protected in a court of law by the constitutionally mandated accessibility of due process. The reverse situation exists in African countries. First there is no rule of law. The governance system is one that protects criminals and violets the rights of honest and law abiding citizens. The more corrupt the public servant is, the higher administrative posts are given to him/her. The law courts and law enforcement officers themselves constitute the major instruments for promoting corruption and other malpractices in society. For example, Cabogo (1993 : 167) writing on ethics and why corruption is rampant in Côte d'Ivoire states :

"There are two groups of finance offices, those who are responsible for the execution of the budget, i.e. those who authorize expenditures and those who collect taxes, i.e. various incomes other than custom duties. The former are the custodians of all payment documents of government workers. They do not hesitate to toss you up and down until you pay them some money. It is only after satisfying them that they process your papers and you get paid."

28The situation is not different in Cameroon ‑ there is the famous 30% payment to these officers for whatever money government owes you, otherwise forget about ever collecting your rightful dues. In all, the value of equality is embodied in guarantees grounded in basic citizen rights. The value of efficiency is embodied in productivity. Public administrators and private sector managers operate in this complex environment ‑ an environment in which two fundamental values of our society often collide. The challenge of public administrators and corporate managers must be to maximize efficiency without sacrificing equality ‑ and vice versa. The principle barriers to the effective implementation of public and private sector management or programmes are the conflicts between the political principles of democracy and the economic principles of capitalism.

29When public administration and private or corporate management is carried out within the framework of a confused political culture, confusion and chaos, not coherence, is bound to prevail. Culture, both tangible and intangible, affects the environment in which public‑private sector interface takes place. In mapping a new vision for public‑private interface at the dawn of the 21st century, due consideration must be extended to ecological factors ‑ that is, the relationship between organisms and their environments ; and public administrators and corporate managers who are not acutely aware of how environmental factors influence administration and good management are doomed to failure.

30What is civil society's perception of public‑private interface ? Generally, given the poor performance of governments, civil society has a negative overview of government performance. There are understandable reasons of the way governments in African societies perform. Three possible explanations which must be quickly address are :

  • Democracy and governance system as practiced in Africa :

  • Government takes a down trapping ; and government must shape or shake‑up ;

  • The country must re shape or shake up itself.

31Democracy and governance system in Africa is untidy and disorderly and has proved not to be cost effective because of the attitude, behaviour and role of the political power brokers. There is a general absence of pluralism ; pluralism is central in the way of any organized and structured society ; the inherent nature of democratic governance is for government to admit issues of inefficiency and ineffectiveness and thus submit itself for civil society judgement in a free and fair electoral process. Civil society expects and accepts only the democratic values of equity, openness, accountability, values of efficiency and effectiveness. These values are currently absent in Africa, except the values of personality cult, corruption, mismanagement, and the misuse of power.

32The assertion for governments taking a down trapping is due to the negative experience of civil society with public and private institutions. This implies that elected representatives of the people who supervise public managers, need to be more proactive in advocacy for government performance. The perspective of government shake up maintains that individually and collectively, as employees both in public and private sectors must assume greater responsibility for improving the performance of their programmes / activities. Such efforts will reflect government and private sector attempts "to shape up" reducing bureaucratic waste and offering citizen‑customers better services more effectively and efficiently (Betts 1993 : 1‑2).

33Lastly, civil society must shake up as well. The problem of productivity, efficiency accountability etc. are not unique to the public sector. The role of civil society is important in the realization of these cherished ideals and goals. The performance of a nation as whole, not just the public and private corporate sector is important for a national common purpose. New creative and aggressive forward looking mechanisms must be established to cause the business community and government to develop more innovative solutions to national problems. It is the responsibility of every one in maintaining a healthy relationship between productive public sector employees and clientele inter‑facing government. The nation itself must become more disciplined in its political economy and good governance.

Ethnic crises

34A cross section of scholarly views show that unethical practices in African public services are rooted in the poor articulations between the state and civil society. The argument here is that African states are not yet a moral entity enjoying the inherent support of all ; that considerable efforts must be articulated to transform the continent democratically, if an ethical public service is to emerge.

35The contention is also one of mapping out a major ethical tenets expected of public servants ; and why ethical violations rather than ethical behaviour has emerged as the norm in many African countries. Baguma et al. and others argue, for example, that the major causes of unethical behaviour should be traced through the corridors of economic, political and cultural (EPC) factors with stronger emphasis on the political dimensions. This view converges with that of Ake, supporting the fact that unethical behaviour is a multi‑dimensional problem. An issue equally take up by Balogun who sees Africa's fundamental ethical crisis as reflected in her developmental and technological options which have contributed to the ongoing economic crises and recession. The complexities and magnitude of the problem is such that many of the officials are unable to distinguish or separate between their commitment to the modern organizational bureaucracy and their primordial interest. These statements accentuate the truism that it is the policies of Africa’s political leaders that have contributed immensely and increased the incentives for corrupt or inefficient performance in the public service, an attitude which equally has a spell‑over effect in the private sector. The institutionalization of the single‑party system and centralized administrative structures contributed to unethical practices in both the private and public sectors.

36Policy emerges as a crucial input factor regulating ethics and integrity in the public and private sectors in Africa. But when policy is such that it blurs the essence of good management, accountability, transparency, efficiency, impartiality, productivity and services to the people, the society is bound to crumble as Africa is doing.

Ethnic diversity

37The effect of ethnic diversity on the structure and functioning of the public service constitute a major obstacle in many African countries. Ethnocracy has serious detrimental administrative effects because it harms public sector performance, increases patronage, and reduces trust among individuals and between ethnic groups. But diversity’s effect on overall economic growth is less clear‑cut, because it depends on the political environment.

38Given the fact that the political environment in Africa is clouded with monolithic political party structure and centralized administrative system, ethnic divide plays an important yet destructive role in the output functions of the bureaucracy. Cameroon presents a typical example where as earlier stated the Beti tribe of President Paul Biya with less than 10 percent of the total population lords it over the entire nation. Recent appointments in the administrative sector within the capacity of senior divisional officers and divisional officers, show only two Anglophones out of 38 were appointed. The same pattern is apparent within the military and other sectors of the government bureaucracy. (Cameroon Post, September 28, 1998 : 4 ; The Herald, August 28‑30, 1998 : 1‑3). The majority of these appointees come from the Centre and South provinces excluding the other ethnic constellations within the country. However, the idea of ethnic differentiation is a notion of relatively recent vintage in Cameroon as elsewhere in Africa as noted by Bayart (1993 : Chapter 1).

39Besides, urbanization, internal migration, and intermarriages keeps ethnic distinction in such a constant state of flux that ethnic groups themselves become fissiparous as their members straddle and shift identities, undermining in the process the avlidity of any approach that takes ethnic allegiance as a fixed explanatory device. This is not to state that inter‑ethnic friction is imaginary or politically unimportant. The fact is that it has contributed significantly to the state of distrust and apathy within civil society towards public institutions and officials. It has equally contributed to the poor output functions of the government as it has been the source of corruption and other malpractices. When the government fails to take measures to punish the defaulters of the law, the feeling is created that the government is out only to protect the interest of people from the ethnic constellation of the Head of State. The law must be applied irrespective of who the person is ‑ equality before the law and the rule of law creates the basis for efficient management and good governance within the society or corporation. Gros (1995 : 115) points out in the case of Cameroon that :

"Ethnic groups and sub‑groups bas certainly affected politics in post‑colonial Cameroon, though great care must be exercised in order to avoid sweeping generalizations ; ethnic groups are commonly subdivided and intermingled in complex ways, and ethnicity often takes second place behind other forces. Ethnocracy constantly looms in the background of African politics", as well as in the civil service or private enterprises.

40Proper public‑private sector interface must seek ways and means of addressing ethnic politics and role within the administrative sector ; and to ensure the upholding of professional ethics, moral rectitude, good behaviour and attitude. In short, there is a need to establish a "culture" of behaviour in African societies as well as eliminate cultural heritage and value belief systems that are counter‑productive to good management and governance.

Policy areas and institutional weakness

41Drawing on the proceeding line of argument, four policy areas are identified, underlying the state of coherence or confusion and chaos as far as integrity at the public‑private interface is concern in the African context. These are :

  • Over‑centralization,

  • excessive bureaucratization,

  • anti or non‑democratization and good management,

  • pauperization of the civil and public services.

42To begin with, what is perceived as a modern public service is a 19th century development associated with three complementary conditions : (i) an economy that was able to generate a sustained surplus to provide for a very well paid army of military and non‑military officials ; (ii) the pressures towards social and economic equality : and (iii) the existence of an ethical and professional service.

43The problems confronting the new state of Africa’s public sector is that none of the mentioned conditions holds in many African countries today. (Clarke 1983 : xi) How ? Hardly any African country has a viable economy. Each country is plagued by stagnation, recession, decay and backed with deep crisis of declining productivity and inefficiency. Secondly, apart from the independence struggle where politics took the central role, since then, there has been no further and serious commitment to integrating either economic or political equality / democracy in the development process until of late (1990s). Thirdly, the ethics of service though well accepted as a norm in informal sector operations remains an alien concept in the formal sector. Yet the formal sector dictates the pace or terms of overall national policy articulation and aggregation. Sad enough, the non‑official sector is treated as completely unrelated to the modem public administration system. As a result Olowu (1993 : 103) notes that :

"A political culture is sustained which alienates the mass of the people from their government ; the government being perceived as an institution to be pillaged by those who happen to find themselves engaged in exercising power in public institutions."

44The pillage phenomenon characteristic of the public service sector has a strong spell‑over effect on the private sector. This is a result of the four areas outlined above as they all feed into a political culture of graft, fraud and corruption, particularly in the public service sector.

Over centralization

45The African public sector is generally over centralized, particularly in the Francophone speaking zone. By centralization we imply whereby civil capacity, constitutional concentration of powers, the level of resource concentration between the central administration and the districts, the relative importance of government involvement and the control of the national economy amongst others. The same is also applicable to the private sector where headquarters retain all powers of decision‑making. There is no delegation of authority to the sub units.

46The drive towards centralization in African is partly influenced by the notion of planned economy or half‑baked socialist state ideologies. the introduction of the monolithic party structure : personal ambition and accumulation of powers. Collective activities like that of the military establishment and elite hegemony of status quo maintenance within the society. Here also could be added the wrong conception of "executive powers" a legacy of colonial administration without the functionalism of the rule of law, checks and balances.

Looking ahead

47Supportive research should identify the underlying causes plaguing the state of integrity of the public‑private interface in Africa. The paper presents the key indicators, social, political, cultural and economic dynamics that ought to foster peaceful transition and change in ensuring a functional public administrative sector for the benefit of the entire nation.

48Research is also needed on emerging local groups with whom development planners might devise strategies for monitoring public‑private interface differences or conflicts, in the bureaucratic set up of African states. These relationships include conflict, ethics, private sector, managers, good government and governance are clear positive scenarios for public administration and the environment go beyond the Zist century ; and depend on protecting and promoting peace, opening up the political landscape and encouraging popular management, adopting a new working ethics where conflict is active, and sustaining good management and ethical standards where monolithic party structure exists.

49Unethical standards leads to conflict and poor management. This breads corrupt practices as well as it constraint good relationship between the private/public sectors. Corrupt practices, sadly, also involve accepted and legally sanctioned practices that contribute to the public's distrust of their elected representatives. As long as public officials and others can accept large scale bribes and other gifts from individuals for public services offered, such demanded favours erode the basis of good management. The paper shows that the range of unethical and corrupt practices covers almost every aspect of the practice of government. It is penetrating deeper into the private sector.

50Corrupt practices have the effect of poisoning the will of public trust and confidence in any democratic form of government. They erode the participation of our fellow citizens and limit the broadest possible base for deciding who our representatives are in local, provincial, state and national legislative assemblies. Corrupt practices are found in all three branches of government, and not least, within the corporate state system. We wish it were not 80, but as has been detailed here, it stings and all three branches have problems with the ethical practice of government.

51There is no excuse for unethical behaviour in the practice of government duties. Fraud, waste and abuse have no place either in public or private sectors, and their costs is reduced or poor quality services. This requires that we refuse to accept unethical conduct on the part of all officials in government and private sectors at all levels. The cost in the erosion of confidence in our envisaged democratic way of life requires that each of us demand ethical and professional conduct on the part of our elected and appointed officials.

52Given the almost daily disclosures of unethical and illegal practices, indictments and token convictions of public employees working at all levels of government, it is astonishing that the public is more incensed than it is at the problem of corrupt and unethical practices in the government.

53A possible best prescription for the rethinking of the role of integrity at the public­private inter‑face is that of a growing chasm between the worlds of public opinion and expert policy making. The policy strategy being suggested here is to educate and strengthen public opinion through what could be termed renewal from the grassroots ‑ involving participatory democracy and good management to enhance the credibility of public services.

54The key to success, public‑private sector interface in our age of information and communication technology is to create a new balance between public experts as well as involving the active participation of the masses. The thesis of this paper may simply be summed up as follows : The character of the integrity of the public‑private sector interface management is determined in every country by what government does and is expected to do in that country and how it does it, by the institutions of governance that establish and limit the leadership roles within the nation’s political and governmental systems : and the several environments within which public managers serve and to which they must respond ‑ the geopolitical environment‑ the societal environment, the environment of forces that are external to governance ; and the political, economic and governmental environments.


55The African society is compounded with paradoxes and complications which further compounds the structure and functioning of the public sector management in many developing countries. Africa is extremely vulnerable in this respect. A new forward looking approach has to be advocated ‑ a model of the "public" in public management ­which can best be summed as in this way.

56The geopolitical, societal and external environments bring to bear on the political and governmental systems the real, or primary forces with which government must cope and to which it must respond. Guided by their particular beliefs, and interests, the participants in the political system interpret, choose among and reinforce the forces impinging on them ‑ sometimes generating their own forces ‑ press upon governments position and policies that will respond to the forces. The "public" in public management advocated calls for "popular participatory management and governance system" (PPMGS). A closed political space as that practiced by most African countries through the single party and centralized administrative system contributes to the state of chaotic management.

57To redress the chaotic trend requires balancing the various interrelated forces ‑ i.e. policy making among different perspectives of those forces bearing on the government and civil society must be properly sought out ; policy should be moulded by a particular and, by definition, embedding a more broader perspective of transparency and participation of the various stake holders.

58The effect of several exogenous forces on public policy is quite obvious as to make any further words on the subject superfluous. The paper based on my experiences has made efforts to identify the phenomena of public‑private interface of government's role that are unique to this inter‑linkages. The determinants have emerged from analytical and comparative factors involving :

  • the role of government on contemporary society ;

  • the institutions of governance ;

  • the environments in which governments function ;

  •  the response of civil society towards government policies as well as the attitude of the private sector.

59Fundamental here is the geopolitics of African states. The geopolitical forces constitute what might be termed the magnetic fields of each African state and polity. Understanding them, therefore, and thinking in geopolitical terms are as important to policy makers in government and the private sector as understanding the society they are governing or enterprises they are managing ‑ which surely is the most fundamental requirements of all.

60Many inter‑related forces and issues affect and shape public and private management ‑ this being determinants, constraints and motivations (DCM) as shown on Table 1 (page 53). Given these forces and issues ‑ determinants, constraints and motivations ‑ policy‑makers and managers, are bound to live with, their scope and diversity, it is to be expected that different policy‑makers and managers with different backgrounds will tend to perceive, weigh and react to these forces in different ways.

61What is fundamental here is that of examining each function or process of management ‑ leadership, planning, organizing, staffing, directing and animating, maintaining accountability, responses from civil society, thereby, determining how each is affected by the public‑private sector interface determinants identified in this paper. There are Many uphill battles to confront in public‑private sector interface relationship ; political marginalization, social disintegration, ethnocracy, economic under­development, discrimination, injustice, to name but a few. Whatever, the path toward integrity in public‑private interface, that a given nation’s traditions and institutional constraints Many dictate. It remains universally true that such governments given the inherently dual nature of its task, must conciliate order with disorder, continuity with change, and coherence, flexibility with chaos. After all, these are the essential challenges that a modem democratic governance must meet. African countries are miles away in providing a functional democratic governance system that best ensure a harmonious public‑private interface linkages.

Table 1 : Forces and issues affecting public and private management




Social values by which public‑ private official manifest their activities

constitutional limits of the powers of government

desire to serve public interest well

Political, public and private character of the political system

Administrative/corporative limits of managers in the private sector

Developing the best policies possible

Limits on the powers of public/private business control that have policy and political interest/and private sector interest by way of the policies put in place

Imaginativeness of the administrative opinions

Desire to protect both the government and private sector interest

Control mechanism in place

Consideration on how policies affect the national interest and corporate interest


Public interest ethos common to all investments of governance

Ideologies and values that move and guide the government of the day


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John W. Forje, « Rethinking the Role of Integrity at Public‑Private Sector Interface : Coherence or Confusion. »Bulletin de l'APAD [En ligne], 18 | 1999, mis en ligne le 20 septembre 2006, consulté le 21 avril 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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John W. Forje

Centre for Action‑Oriented Research on African Development (CARAD), BP 13429 Yaounde (Cameroon). Tel/fax : +237 23 1825 ; Tel : +237 22 52 02/23 94 79 ; Fax : +237 22 62 62/22 62 63/21 7470.

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