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Abstract

Public policy regulation in Nigeria allows public servants to accept gifts without restriction based on local culture. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to understand this cultural practice and its implications for the integrity of public servants. Using Mettler and SoRelle’s conceptualization of policy feedback theory, the research questions focused on the perceptions of civic organization leaders on this cultural practice in relation to the integrity of high-level public servants in a region of Nigeria. Data were collected from 10 purposely selected public administrator leaders using open-ended, semistructured interview protocols, and an analysis of publicly available documents. The data were subjected to an inductive coding procedure followed by thematic analysis. Findings suggested that the perceptions of the cultural practice of unrestricted gift giving in the public service were negative and unethical. Consequently, the findings also suggested an amendment to the relevant sections of the Nigerian Constitution to provide for a restricted monetary value of gifts allowable in the public service. The implications for positive social change include a better understanding of ethics in public administration. Policy makers and practitioners can utilize findings to bring about ethical, effective, and efficient public service in Nigeria. Other nations can learn from the Nigerian experience of unrestricted gift giving in the public sector.

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