Professional ethics in the construction industry


The concern intelligence headlines of ethical meltdowns of planetary companies such as Enron, WorldCom, and Tyco, which now have become synonymous with greed, serve as a cardinal reminder to the companies and persons in concern to pattern ethical behavior ( Doran, 2004 ) . One of the most often reported unethical patterns in concern is bribery, described as: “the offering of some good, service or money to an appropriate individual for the intent of procuring a privileged and favorable consideration ( or purchase ) of one ‘s merchandise or corporate project” ( Almeder and Humber, 1983, cited in Johnson, 1991: 327 ) .

Building professionals have gain unity and reputability through professional organic structures such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors ( RICS ) , Malayan Institute of Architects ( PAM ) , The Institution of Engineers Malaysia ( IEM ) , and Institution of Surveyors Malaysia ( ISM ) , which reflects the professionals of building industry. These professional criterions and moralss are embodied in codifications of pattern, which define the functions and duties professionals ( Harris et al. , 1995 ) and are the basis of any moralss programme ( Calhoun and Wolitzer, 2001 ) .

Ethical motives And Professionalism

The Oxford English Dictionary defines moralss as the moral rules that govern or act upon a individual ‘s behavior. Ethical motives, as defined by Doran ( 2004 ) , is the subject covering with what is good and bad about moral responsibility and duty ; a set of recognized moral rules and values about what ought to be ; a theory or system of moral rules regulating the appropriate behavior for an single or group ; and a codification of morality. Doran points out that “ethics is something that the industry needs to speak more about, hold on, and put into wider practice” ( 2004: 4 ) . Hinman ( 1997 ) distinguishes ethical motives and moralss by sing ethical motives as first order beliefs, and patterns about what is good and bad which guide behavior ; while moralss as 2nd order, brooding consideration of moral beliefs and patterns.

Martin ( 2000 ) , defines professionalism as puting aside personal values, feelings, and benefits in order to carry through the duties inhered in professional functions. Ethical behavior, in building context, is determined by the degree of trustiness and unity with which organisations and persons perform their concern ( Mason, 2009 ) .

In a study by Vee & A ; Skitmore ( 2003 ) , it was agreed by 93 % of the respondents that “business ethics” should be driven or governed by “personal ethics” , where there is a demand to keep the balance of both the demands of the client and the impact on the populace. Greenhalgh ( 1997 ) , describes the nucleus of professionalism as the autonomous control of a group of experts possessing honorific position. Ethical motives have a function to play in general concern pattern despite the term “business ethics” being called an oxymoron ( Ferguson, 1994 ) . The pertinence of general constructs of moralss to concern is now realized after the recent visual aspect of greater consensus on this issue. This has been explained on the evidences that concern exists non entirely to suit certain persons, but besides to function the society and, conforms to collective and societal demands ( Cohen and Grace, 1998 ) and environment in general ( Fleddermann, 1999 ) . Put otherwise, the spirit of any actual profession can non be attained without an moralss component ( Bowie, 1991 ) .

Professional Ethical motives In Construction Industry

Professional moralss as defined by Martin ( 2000 ) , consists of moral demands attached to a profession and imposed on its members, together with ethical quandaries created when there is a struggle of involvement or the demands are excessively obscure to give counsel. Bayles ( 1988 ) describes professional moralss as a system of behavioral norms. Such norms guarantee that professional does non take advantage over the client due to the cognition differential – the application of client protection through self-regulation. Construction professionals, for case, applied scientists, designers, undertaking directors, surveyors and contractors, have the cardinal right of professional scruples ( Martins and Schinzinger, 1996, cited in Fleddermann, 1999, p.87 ) . Another of import characteristic of moralss in the building industry is “personal ethics” – frequently interpreted by building professionals as merely handling others with the same point of honestness that they would desire to be treated ( Badger and Gay, 1996 ) . Yet, it has been suggested that professionals in general tend to believe that their duties to the client far outweigh the populace ( Johnson, 1991 ) .

An Australian survey by Vee & A ; Skitmore ( 2003 ) , demonstrates that most organisations subscribed to a professional codification of moralss ( 90 % ) , and many ( 45 % ) had an ethical codification of behavior in their employing organisations. Reeck ( 1982 ) notes that ethical codifications provide counsel for professionals in finding proper action. A South African survey based on the work done in Australia shows that a new suite of professional Acts promulgated in 2000 in South Africa had boosted the profile of moralss ( Vee & A ; Skitmore, 2003 ) . However, Henry ( 1995 ) cautiousnesss that ethical codifications do non work out moral quandaries but do assist to raise the degrees of consciousness and so promote ethical pattern.

Professional Misconduct And Its Impact To The Construction Industry

The celebrated instances of corporate malfeasance such as Enron reflect the unethical concern patterns that resulted in companies quickly lose their reputes ; stockholders revolt, unemployment, besides doing the whole industries to come under intuition ( Doran, 2004 ) . Doran ‘s research has shown that unethical behavior affects the populace ‘s perceptual experience of the industry ( 61 % ) , and more significantly, it affects the degree of trust between clients and contractors ( 74 % ) , and between contractors and design professionals ( 60 % ) .

As a affair of fact, codifications of pattern entirely are deficient to guarantee ethical behavior in the building industry. Ethical misconducts continue to go on in the building industry, for case, conniving tendering that consequences in seemingly competitory commands, monetary value repair, or market distribution schemes that prohibit the spirit of free competition and defraud clients ( Zarkada-Fraser, 2000 ) , bid-cutting ( May et al. , 2001 ) , bid-shopping, cover pricing, concealed fees and committees and compensation for unsuccessful tenderers ( Ray et al. , 1999 ; Zarkada-Fraser and Skitmore, 2000 ) , together with “withdrawal” ( Zarkada, 1998: 36 ) where a tenderer withdraws their command after audience with other tenderers.

Other often reported unethical patterns are related to fraud, breach of assurance and carelessness. Deceit, hocus-pocus, crisp pattern, or breach of assurance, by which it is sought to derive some unjust or dishonest advantage, is the description of the unethical pattern of fraud ( Bolgna et al. , 1996: 9 ) . A common breach of confidentiality is whistle blowing, described as the act of an employee of informing the populace or higher direction of unethical or illegal behavior by an employer or supervisor ( Johnson, 1991: 32 ) . Negligence is the “failure to exert that grade of attention which, in the fortunes, the jurisprudence requires for the protection of those involvements of other individuals which may be injuriously affected by the demand of such care” . ( Delbridge et al. , 2000 ) . The chief beginnings of carelessness are design carelessness, design defect, production defect or a combination of these factors ( Thorpe and Middendorf, 1980: 75 ) .

Barriers That Limit Professional And Ethical Behaviour

Brien ( 1998 ) , states that the cause of ethical failure in an organisation can frequently be traced to its organisational civilization and besides the failure of the leader to promote ethical patterns among the members. In malice of the fact that personal moralss that constitute to perceptual experience of beliefs, values, personality and background, any inclination of an single towards ethical behavior is strongly influenced by the value systems reflected by the using organisation ( Mason, 2009 ) . Harmonizing to one survey by Pearl et Al. ( 2007 ) , the extent to which ethical internal control is exercised within an organisation will act upon the trouble confronting any professional community.

When the participants of the building industry acquire caught in a compromising state of affairs, the enticement for them to be unethical can be about resistless which is peculiarly true at the contractor degree. The force per unit area on contractors are emphasized by Stansbury ( 2005 ) , Chairman of Transparency International ( UK ) that, the bulk of contractors engaged in corruptness are forced by the manner the industry and the political environment operate. Furthermore, there is no consensus on exactly what constitutes unethical behavior and what should be done to better it ( Mason, 2009 ) .

Bettering Professional Ethical motives In Construction Industry

There are conflicting sentiments as to whether or non the acceptance of ethical codifications has enriched ethical criterions in the building industry. Indeed, some observers have even suggested that an ethical codification is nil more than public dealingss “window dressing” ( Starr, 1983 ) . Mason ( 2009 ) , in his research describes that a single-wide codification can lend to the development of ethical criterions within the building industry as “the first line of defence against corruption” ( Uff, 2003 ) . The Code was intended to use to all professionals of building industry regardless of their making or association. The rules are set out as recognized behavior benchmark and regroup into seven qualities as honestness, equity, just wages, dependability, unity, objectiveness and answerability. Even so, Mason indicates that the alteration for a better ethical criterions of behavior in the industry can merely be achieved by cut downing the opportunities for building participants to see it a demand to pull advantage at person else ‘s disbursal. He points out that other steps such as longer term relationships and collaborative working in the industry besides play an every bit significant function in ethical betterment.

Mason ( 2009 ) , suggests that one manner to better ethical criterions is merely by implementing the jurisprudence where unethical behavior is besides a breach of the condemnable jurisprudence. This can be illustrated by the enforcement activity in the UK by the Office of Fair Trading ( OFT 2007 ) . The OFT purpose is to guarantee a just competition during stamp command phases, which regards collusion as a dispute of competition, and the OFT has continues to carry on probe to conflict corruptness.

Doran ‘s research ( 2004 ) has implied that the building industry should acquire more preparation on professional moralss, where 97 % thought that moralss developing should get down at the collegiate degree. Despite the tendency towards increased preparation in the building industry continues to turn, the enterprises to offer preparation on moralss is rarely heard. Doran suggests that companies should follow ethical codifications before increasing the preparation on moralss so that preparation will be more goal-orientated.


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