Governance and Integrity
In much of the emerging world, it is common to point to three basic ills confronting the polity: corruption, ignorance, and poverty.
It is common to think of these ills as separate. They may however be so closely inter-related that the problems they bring about pile up, making them dauntingly difficult to solve.
It is also common to simply juxta-pose transparency as the anti-dote to corruption; education and training, to ignorance; jobs and livelihood, to poverty.
Further reflection on transparency highlights the fundamental importance of core values. Through transparency, all units within a polity--- government entities, business enterprises, and civil society organizations---wish to be seen and assessed for the values they profess. They also wish to be seen as units with integrity, i.e. the decisions and actions they take are fully consistent with their professed core values. They are therefore keen to set standards of ethical behavior, with a code of ethics that clearly draws the line between behavior that is consistent or inconsistent with those core values. In this light, “integrity and ethics” becomes a key component of a comprehensive program pitched against a polity’s basic ills, starting with corruption.
Education and training, the anti-dote usually presented to ignorance, highlight the importance of the home. This is where the most effective education takes place; moreover, active home-school collaboration is often pinpointed as an important ingredient of success in the upbringing of children. “Home” is generally thought of as a haven of mutual support, team work, and solidarity. It is at home where people learn and live such basic principles as division of labor, collaboration, and the discipline of getting one’s homework done. Moreover, these same principles and best practices, brought from homes over to school and work, would underscore the importance of “solidarity and team work” as another key component of a comprehensive program pitched against a polity’s ills, which include ignorance.
Finally, jobs and livelihood as anti-dotes to poverty. The fight against poverty over many decadeshas brought up the realisation that there is no single silver bullet against it. While the plight brought about by poverty can be alleviated by the generation of jobs and income, still its systemic character highlights one inconvenient fact: that the value added web is faced with many gaps and kinks such that its different components are not seamlessly connected with each other. This fact, following Michael Porter, calls for putting together a coalition of the different sectors and components of the value added web. They, after all, have a “shared value” from being more closely connected with each other. As each component of the web makes itself stronger, it should be helped to seize the opportunities for cooperation and mutual support with others in the value web. This calls for “alliance and social responsibility”, by which the development of an area, an industry, or a sector would be facilitated and accelerated; this may well be the third component of a comprehensive program designed to address a polity’s basic ills that include poverty.
To address the triple challenges of corruption, ignorance, and poverty, therefore, we do need a comprehensive program with these components: a) integrity & ethics; b) solidarity and team work; and c) alliance and social responsibility. They have the potential of securing the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of such a program, which may come under the rubric of governance or integrity. It has the potential of providing a most effective anti-dote to the triple fundamental challenges of any polity.
Jesus P. Estanislao
Chairman, Center for Excellence in Governance
* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Building Integrity Programme.