Ethics involves concepts of right or wrong, fair and unfair, moral and immoral. Most people and most societies  consider  lying,  cheating,  stealing  and  harming  others  to  be  unethical,  immoral  and  socially unacceptable. Honesty, integrity, keeping one’s word and respecting the rights of others are generally considered ethical and virtuous – they are traits that a good person is supposed to believe in and to display. The focus of this paper is to examine ethics best practices and how they can make a positive contribution when engineers and project managers (1) conduct their activities in an ethical manner and (2) demonstrate socially responsible behaviour by being committed corporate citizens.

     Abstract  

Ethics involves concepts of right or wrong, fair and unfair, moral and immoral. Most people and most societies  consider  lying,  cheating,  stealing  and  harming  others  to  be  unethical,  immoral  and  socially unacceptable. Honesty, integrity, keeping one’s word and respecting the rights of others are generally considered ethical and virtuous – they are traits that a good person is supposed to believe in and to display. The focus of this paper is to examine ethics best practices and how they can make a positive contribution when engineers and project managers (1) conduct their activities in an ethical manner and (2) demonstrate socially responsible behaviour by being committed corporate citizens.

1.0 Introduction 

“There is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in free and open competition, without deception or fraud”.  Milton Friedman – Nobel Prize winning economist  

Thompson Jr. et al [1] argue that Ethics involves concepts of right or wrong, fair and unfair, moral and immoral.  Most people and most societies consider lying, cheating, stealing and harming others to  be unethical, immoral and socially unacceptable. Honesty, integrity, keeping one’s word and respecting the rights  of  others  are  generally  considered  ethical  and  virtuous  –  they  are  traits  that  a good  person  is supposed to believe in and to display. Beliefs about what is ethical serve as a moral compass in guiding the actions and behaviours of individuals and organisations. The issue here is how do notions of right and wrong, fair and unfair, moral and immoral, ethical  and unethical translate into judging engineers and project managers’ decisions, strategies and actions.  Professional ethics is the application of general ethical principles and standards to professional behaviour. Professional ethics does not really involve a special set of ethical standards applicable to only professional situations. Ethical principles in professions are not materially different from ethical principles in general. 

Why? It is because, professions must draw their ideas of “the right thing to do” and “wrong thing to do” from the same sources as anyone else. If dishonesty is considered to be unethical and immoral, then dishonest  behaviour  in  professions  –  whether  it  relates  to  customers,  suppliers,  employees  or shareholders – qualifies as equally unethical and immoral. If the society deems bribery to be unethical, then it follows that it is unethical for professionals to participate in making payoffs to government officials or any other party to facilitate business transactions  or bestow gifts  and  other favors  on prospective customers to win or retain their businesses.  

2.0 ETHICS IN THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY 

Beliefs of right and wrong, fair and unfair, moral and immoral, ethical and unethical are present in all societies, organisations and individuals. Some concepts of what is right and what is wrong are universal and transcend most all cultures. For example, being truthful (or not lying) strikes a chord of what is right in the peoples of all nations. Demonstrating integrity of character, not cheating, and treating people with dignity and respect are concepts that resonate with people of most religions and culture. But the school of  ethical  relativism  holds  that  there  are  important  instances  in  what  is  deemed  fair  or  unfair,  what constitutes proper regard for human rights, and what is considered ethical and unethical, varies from one society or country to another. Hence, this school of thought contends, there are occasions when cultural norms and the circumstances of the situation determine whether certain actions or behaviours are right or wrong.  

2.1 Cross Culture Differences in Ethical Standards 

In Japan, China and other Asian societies, for instance, there is a strong ethic of loyalty to work groups and corporations. In Japan, such beliefs translate into high cultural expectations that company personnel will exhibit  strong  loyalty  to  superiors  and  to  their  employer  [2].  Japanese  employees,  believing  in  the importance of loyalty to their employer, are therefore unlikely to blow the whistle when they see their company engage in wrong doing. In Italy, people are relatively carefree; they live for the moment and are generally willing to take chances about what the future will bring. As a consequence, an Italian manager may be disinclined to keep a promise or keep contractual obligations; further, there are often low levels of trust between parties in business deals and honest communications are frequently lacking [3]. In China, there is greater societal toleration of child labour, dangerous working conditions, and passing off fake or inferior products than in some other parts of the world. In addition, since China’s history is more tied to the functioning of a planned or socialist economy, there is no strong concept on what constitutes moral or ethical behaviour in free market transactions [4]. One study revealed that managers in Hong Kong rank taking credit for another’s work and accomplishments at the top of a list of unethical behaviours and, in contrast to managers in Western cultures, considered it more unethical than bribery or illicitly obtaining information about competitors [5]. In Mexico, nepotism is more acceptable than in the United States or many other countries.  

2.2 Bribes and Kickbacks  

One of the thorniest ethical challenges that multinational companies face is the degree of cross-country variability in payment of bribes as part of business transactions. In many countries in Eastern Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia, it is customary to pay bribes to government officials in order to win a government contract or facilitate a business transaction. In some developing countries, it is difficult for any company, foreign or domestic to move goods through customs without paying off low-level officials [6]. Likewise, in many countries it is normal to make payments to prospective customers in order to win or retain their business.    

“Politicians  and  public  officials  from  the  world’s  leading  industrial  countries  are  ignoring  the  rot  in  their own  backyards  and  the  criminal  bribe-paying  activities  of  multinational  firms  headquartered  in  their countries.” Peter Eigen – Chairman of Transparency International (2002) In her paper titled “Turning a Blind Eye” – Corruption and the UK Export Credits Guarantee Department, Dr Hawley S.  (June 2003) [7], states that Corruption – broadly defined as “the abuse of public or private office for personal gain” – takes many different forms, from the routine cases of bribery or petty abuse that  are  said  to  “grease  the  wheels”  to  the  amassing  of  spectacular  personal  wealth  through embezzlement or other dishonest means [8]. The international community is adamant that corruption must be stopped. Yet there is a deep hypocrisy in its approach to doing so. At the heart of this hypocrisy are the taxpayer- funded export credit agencies of industrialised countries. 

The  international  community  is  demanding  that  the  governments  of  poorer  countries  eradicate corruption within their countries if they want to be considered eligible to receive Western aid [9]. Yet, despite a major international convention on combating bribery signed by 34 countries in 1997 and in effect from February 1999, large, mainly Western, companies continue to bribe their way into getting governments contracts in poorer countries. 

Many of these companies are supported in various ways by export credit agencies. These are government departments,  found  in  most  Western  countries,  which  use  taxpayers’  money  to  insure  domestic companies doing business abroad against risks such as the company not being paid or the whole project collapsing.  The  price  of  Western  companies’  bribery  is,  however,  ultimately  paid  for  not  by  Western governments but by the people of the Southern countries in which the companies operate. They pay for it in the form of increased debts incurred for overpriced and poorly planned projects that often provide little benefit to people or country. 

The Global Corruption Report 2009 [8] presents evidence of persistently close linkages between business and governments in developing and industrialised countries alike, multiple conflicts of interest and the growing  risks  of  disproportionate  influence  on  the  part  of  corporate  lobbying.  Case  studies  from Bangladesh,  Germany,  Malaysia  and  Trinidad  and  Tobago  all  document  a  precariously  close  nexus between private business and public institutions. In the United Kingdom, politically connected firms are estimated to account for almost 40 per cent of market capitalisation – a level that rises to a staggering 80 per cent in Russia. In addition, the scale and rapid growth of lobbying raises serious concerns about equal visibility  and  the  right  to  get  heard  for  citizens  who  cannot  afford  to  hire  lobbyists.  In  Brussels  an estimated 2,500 lobbying organisations with 15,000 lobbyists vie for influence on EU policy-making. In the United States, lobbying expenditures by companies have risen sharply and, at state level, lobbying expenditures  average  US$200,000  per  legislator,  while  five  lobbyists  vie  for  the  attention  of  each lawmaker. 

According  to  Dr  Hawley  [7],  between  1994  and  2001,  the  US  government  received  reports  of  400 international contracts worth $200 billion signed between governments and businesses worldwide that purportedly involved bribery [11]. Between May 2001 and April 2002 alone, the US government learned of 60 contracts worth a total of $35 billion that had been affected by bribery [12]. Some 70% of the allegations that the US government received in 2000-2001 involved companies from countries that had signed up to the OECD’s 1997 anti-bribery Convention [13]. World Bank research shows that one-third (35%) of foreign companies operating in the countries of the former Soviet Union pay kickbacks, of which US and European companies are among the worst offenders. The Bank concludes that its research does “not support the notion that transnational bribery laws . . . have led to higher standards of probity in overseas public procurement” [14] 

3.0 ENGINEERING AND ETHICS  

This  section  draws  a  lot  from  Anke  van  Gorp  paper  “Ethical  issues  in  Engineering,  Safety,  and Sustainability”. Engineering ethics is the field of study that focuses on the ethical aspects of the actions and decisions of engineers, both individually and collectively. A rather broad range of (ethical) issues are discussed in engineering ethics: professional codes of conduct, whistle-blowing, dealing with safety and risks, liability issues, conflicts of interests, multinational corporations, privacy etc. A substantial amount of literature on the teaching of engineering ethics to engineering students has been developed since the beginning of the 1980’s, [15, 16, 17a, 18, 25]  A salient feature of engineering ethics literature is that a lot of it has been developed based on studies of disasters like the Challenger disaster [19, 20a]. Another feature of engineering ethics is that, especially in the United States, there are a lot of proponents who regard engineering ethics as a kind of professional ethics [21, 20b, 17b]. The idea is that the engineer as a professional has obligations not only to his or her employer  but  also  to  the  general  public,  as  for  example  doctors  or  lawyers  also  have  obligations. 

Engineers should adhere to professional codes of conduct that state, for example, that engineers shall hold the safety and welfare of the public paramount. Based on descriptions of the Challenger disaster, Davis emphasizes that there is a difference between engineers and managers. Engineers should adhere to their professional norms and hold safety paramount and managers do not do this [20a]. This tendency to regard engineering ethics as a kind of professional ethics has led to a focus on the individual engineer and his or her responsibilities in his or her job and profession in most (American) engineering ethics textbooks. This can also explain the focus on whistle blowing that can be found in some of the engineering ethics literature. The individual engineer should in certain cases take his or her moral and  professional  responsibilities  seriously  and  blow  the  whistle.  According  to  Zandvoort  et  al  [22] engineering  ethics  should  focus  on  more  than  the  individual  engineer.  They  argue  that  the  ethical problems  that  engineers  encounter  are  partly  due  to  the  context  they  work  in.  Some  of  the  ethical problems cannot be solved by individual engineers or the profession.  

In their paper “The Straight and Narrow Path: Ethical Issues for Design Professionals” [27] Steven  G.M. Stein, and Jeffrey H.  Winick,  conclude  that the day to day responsibilities and pressures associated with the practice of engineering are such that it is easy to forget the ethical obligations that one undertakes as a professional. The pressures to perform are immediate and persistent, making the ethical responsibilities easy to ignore. The consequences of doing so, however, couldn’t be more important.  

As illustration of the potentially grave consequences of momentarily sidestepping the ethical tenets of the profession, consider the case of Robert Lund. Mr. Lund was the vice-president for engineering at Morton-Thiokol on January 27, 1986. Earlier on that evening, Mr. Lund presided over a meeting of engineers concerning the launch of the space shuttle Challenger. The unanimous opinion of the engineers was that the shuttle launch should be postponed due to the cold temperatures. The concern was that the O-rings securing the rocket boosters might fail. Although neither Mr. Lund, nor any of the other engineers had data  to  confirm  the  danger  that  the sub  40  degree  temperatures  presented  to  the  launch,  they  also couldn’t confirm the safety of the launch. Mr. Lund therefore recommended to his superiors that the flight be postponed.  

The Space Center nonetheless wanted to launch. They encouraged Mr. Lund’s superiors to reconsider although they reiterated that they would not launch without Morton-Thiokol’s approval. Mr. Lund’s boss, along with Thiokol’s vice-president for shuttle programs reviewed the evidence and concluded that the O-rings would hold at the expected temperature. Both men were ready to sign a launch approval on Mr. Lund’s  assent.  Mr.  Lund  was  the  only  thing  that  stood  in  the  way  of  launching  the  shuttle. Mr. Lund’s first response was to repeat his concerns and to stand by his decision to postpone the launch. His boss asked him to reconsider and suggested that he “take off his engineering hat and put on his management hat.” Mr. Lund did and he authorized the launch.  

The next morning the Challenger exploded during lift-off, killing all seven astronauts due to the failure of an O-ring. Mr. Lund was not prosecuted for his actions. He broke no laws. But Mr. Lund did allow the pressures  of the circumstances to convince  him  to  act  against the conclusions  he  had reached  as  an engineering professional.  Certainly, Mr. Lund’s experience is not reflective of the day-to-day consequences of ignoring the ethical responsibilities placed on the shoulders of design professionals.  Nevertheless, the experience is nonetheless instructive as to the tremendous importance of those ethical responsibilities. 

 

3.1 Moral responsibility and the trust relationship between engineers and society 

Engineers have specific knowledge and experience and play an important part in the design of products. 

Engineers are given power to decide in design processes. 

The regulative framework limits this power. In this thesis, I will assume that a trust relation exists between society and engineers designing products. Engineers are given “a licence to operate” based on this trust relationship. Being trusted by society brings with it responsibilities for the engineers. Engineers have responsibilities towards their customers and to society as a whole. The codes of ethics formulated by engineering societies all state that engineers should display integrity and honesty in their work, if they are to be trusted by customers and society. The Institution of Engineers, Australia [23] states the following in the second of their tenets in their code of ethics [www.ieaust.au]. 

‘Members shall act with honour, integrity and dignity in order to merit the trust of the community and the profession; [www.ieaust.au, 23]’ In her paper ‘Trust and Antitrust’, Annette Baier [24] uses the examples of plumbers and surgeons to illustrate that we trust them to do what is necessary to fix what is wrong. We trust them and we do not prescribe what they should do exactly to fix, for example a leak. Baier claims that it is not possible to prescribe precisely what plumbers and surgeons must do because we do not have that knowledge. If we would be able to prescribe precisely step by step what the plumber has to do and what he should not do then we could probably repair the leak ourselves. My claim is that in a similar vein we trust engineers to design safe products without prescribing precisely what they should do and refrain from doing. 

The  trustworthiness  of  engineers  should  not  just  refer  to  not  acting  on  bad  intentions  towards  the person(s) trusting you. Trustworthiness also includes being competent [26]. Engineers designing products have to have the competence to make good designs if they are to be trusted as engineers. Trustworthy engineers know what their competence is and when to ask someone else for help or advice to produce a safe design.  Trust  in  engineers  that  mean  well  but  do  not  have  a  clue  as  to  what  they  are  doing  is misplaced. 

The public expects engineers to design products that will, in normal circumstances and use, not lead to disasters. If disasters do happen then trust may have to be reconsidered. Perhaps the design engineers behaved in an untrustworthy manner or maybe some unanticipated and unforeseeable circumstances materialized.  A  regulative  framework  has  to  incorporate  these  circumstances  if  the  public  is  to  trust engineers making designs using the same regulative framework again. It can be said that the boundaries within which trust in engineers is the default are drawn anew in cases in which regulative frameworks are changed following undesirable effects. 

Trust in engineers might be  misplaced if the regulative framework is not  adequate. I  assume that an adequate  regulative  framework  provides  a  basis  for  warranted  trust.  If  trustworthy  and  experienced engineers are given regulations that they should follow and do indeed follow, these regulations should lead to the protection of what people value. This might be achieved by requiring that the framework is accepted.  The  requirements  that  a  regulative  framework  should  be  complete,  unambiguous  and consistent can be regarded as requirements that make sure that the rules of a regulative framework can be used in design processes. 

4.0 ETHICAL CHALLENGES IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY 

Profession  is  an  occupation  that  requires  both  advanced  study  and  mastery  of  a  specialized  body  of knowledge and undertaken to promote, ensure or safeguard some matter that significantly affects others’ well being [27]. Almost every profession has its codes of ethics to provide a framework for arriving at good ethical choices. Therefore, professional ethics is a system of norms to deal with both the morality and behaviour of professionals in their day-today practice, and ascribes moral responsibility not to an individual, but to all professionals practicing in a particular profession. For the building and designing professions,  the  incalculable  value  of  human  life  demands  nothing  less  than  the  highest  moral considerations from those who might risk it otherwise [27]. 

The construction industry is a ‘perfect’ environment for ethical dilemmas, with its low-price mentality, fierce competition, and paper-thin margin [28]. Jordan, 2005 [29] stated that unethical behaviour is taking a growing toll on the reputation of the industry.  From  a  survey  conducted  by  FMI  [28],  63%  of  the respondents  whom  are  the  construction  players  feel  that  construction  sector  is  tainted  by  unethical conducts. Surveys conducted by researchers in Australia (Vee & Skitmore, 2003) [27] and South Africa  (Pearl et  al, 2005) [30] identified several unethical conducts  and ethical dilemmas in the construction industry such as corruption, negligence, bribery, conflict of interest, bid cutting, under bidding, collusive tendering,  cover  pricing,  frontloading,  bid  shopping,  withdrawal  of  tender,  and  payment  game.  It is evident that there exist significant areas of concern pertaining to the ethical conducts practiced by the construction professionals. 

4.1 Examples of Efforts by Professional Bodies  

True professions have codes of conduct, and the meaning and consequences of those codes are taught as part of the formal education of their members. A governing body, composed of respected members of the profession, oversees members’ compliance.  Through these codes, professional institutions forge an implicit social contract with other members of society: Trust us to control and exercise jurisdiction over this  important  occupational  category.  In  return,  the  profession  promises,  we  will  ensure  that  our members are worthy of your trust—that they will not only be competent to perform the tasks they have been entrusted with, but they will conduct themselves with high standards and integrity. On balance we believe that a profession, with well-functioning institutions of discipline, will curb misconduct because moral behavior is an integral part of the identity of professionals—a self-image most are motivated to maintain. 

There  are  however  many  efforts  taken  to  increase  the  ethical  standards  and  integrity  among  the professionals  in  construction  sectors  worldwide.  According  to  Pearl  et  al  (2005)  [30],  the  regulatory professional  Acts  relating  to  the  built  environment  professional  sector  in  South  Africa  were  totally overhauled in the late 1990’s and a new suite of professional Acts were promulgated in 2000 to enhance the  professionalism.  Meanwhile,  in  America,  the  Construction  Management  Association  of  America (CMAA)  has  updated  its  code  of  ethics  to  include  a  wider  range  of  professional  services  as  well  as professional services among construction players (CMAA, 2006). A Standard of Professional Conduct to govern the ethical practices in the American civil engineering profession was published by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE, 2007). On the other hand, Australia has their own codes of tendering to enhance fairness and transparency (Ray, 1997) [31]. 

According to the National Society of Professional Engineers NSPE, Engineering is an important and learned profession. As members of this profession, engineers are expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty  and  integrity.  Engineering  has  a  direct  and  vital  impact  on  the  quality  of  life  for  all  people. 

Accordingly, the services provided by engineers require honesty, impartiality, fairness, and equity, and must be dedicated to the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare. Engineers must perform under a standard of professional behavior that requires adherence to the highest principles of ethical conduct. The NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers contains six fundamental canons. Canon 4 that deals with conflict of interest states that “Engineers shall act in professional matters for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees, and shall avoid conflicts of interest or the appearance of conflicts of interest”.  

Consultants in both developed and developing countries are confronted with the hazards of corruption in their everyday work – particularly when it comes to government procurement. International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) issued a policy statement in 1996 as a first step in exploring ways, together with  the  large  multilateral  funding  institutions,  to  protect  the  consulting  engineering  industry  from exposure to corruption. FIDIC’s policy statement concludes that corruption is basically wrong because it undermines the values of society, breeds cynicism and demeans the individuals involved. It is more than stealing funds, it is stealing trust. 

According to FIDIC Policy Statement on Corruption 1996 [32]. “Corrupt practices can occur at all stages of the procurement process: in the marketing of engineering services, during the design; in preparing tender documents (including specifications); in pre-qualifying bidders; in evaluating  tenders; in supervising the performance of those carrying out the construction; issuing of payment certifications to contractors; and making decisions on contractors’ claims.” 

 Customers trust companies to provide the goods and services contracted and paid for. Companies trust customers to pay on time. Likewise, vendors trust companies to pay them on time and companies trust the vendor to deliver on time. Many times in the middle of these affairs will be a project manager (PM). 

While the PM  may not  be  a high-visibility  position  like a CEO, the ethics of a PM can reflect  upon  a company. They can reflect upon a department. Ethics or the lack thereof can even reflect upon an entire profession.  That  is  why  the  Project  Management  Institute  (PMI)  has  developed  a  Code  of  Ethics  and Professional Conduct. This code is important enough that a PM must agree to the Code before receiving their credentials, such  as the Project  Management Professional (PMP). The  emphasis that PMI places upon ethics is unmistakable in its purpose statement: “The purpose of this Code is to instill confidence in the project management profession and to help an individual become a better practitioner. We do this by establishing a profession-wide understanding of appropriate behavior. We believe that the credibility and reputation  of  the  project  management  profession  is  shaped  by  the  collective  conduct  of  individual practitioners.” 

In  the  UK,  the  Office  of  Government  Commerce  (OGC),  representatives  from  other  government departments and representatives from industry have come together and put up the Government Procurement Code of Good Practice. The Government Procurement Code of Good Practice sets out the core values and behaviour for all members of central civil government’s supply chain: both government organisations and their suppliers. It is a code of conduct for all members of the supply chain that encourages all participants to  work  together  openly  and  co-operatively.  It  also  represents  a  commitment  that  they  are  serious  about wanting to be better customers and better suppliers, within relationships that can bring mutual reward. 

4.3 The cost of unethical Practices in Construction and Project Management  

The  construction  industry  is  one  of  the  most  lucrative  of  industries;  unfortunately,  in  2002,  Transparency International’s  (TI’s)  Bribe  Payers  Index  survey  found  that  it  also  has  an  unenviable  stigma  of  being labeled the sector to be most heavily entangled in corruption worldwide (Transparency International 2002).  

TI confirms that corruption can be found in every phase of the construction process, from the preliminary planning stage, to the awarding of contracts, to the employment of subcontractors and to the operation and maintenance of projects: The tender process may be corrupted by international pressure. Through offers of arms or aid the government of a developed country may influence a developing country to make sure that a company from the developed country is awarded a project, even if it is not the cheapest or best option. 

Engagement in corrupt practices is not only illegal in worldwide jurisdictions; it also transgresses the ethics codes  established  by  the  construction  industry  professional  bodies.  As  such,  the  exposure,  sanctions  and eradication  of  corruption  within  the  international  engineering  and  construction  industries  fall  under  the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) umbrella [32]. 

Indeed,  the  Chairman  of  Transparency  International  (Eigen  2005)  noted  that:  Transparency  in  public contracting  is  arguably  the  single  most  important  factor  in  determining  the  success  of  donor  support  in sustainable  development.    Furthermore,  the  Major  Projects  Association  (2006)  notes  that  the  current emphasis  on  corporate  responsibility  has  given  rise  to  anti-corruption  mechanisms  and  anti-corruption codes of conduct in many companies. The dilemma for engineering-construction companies in the West is the stringent application of such codes, particularly in overseas developing countries.  According to Corner House  (2000)  if  corruption  is  growing  throughout  the  world,  it  is  in  large  part  fueled  by  policies  and programmes  that  are  being  pushed  by  Western  governments  and  which  are  further  underwritten  by  poor governance and misdirected funds in the North [32]. 

It is evident that the cost and the resultant impact of corruption within the global construction industry can be  viewed  from  a  buyer’s  or  a  seller’s  perspective  as  well  as  that  of  societal  stakeholders.  The  American Society  of  Civil  Engineers  (2005)  adopted  TI’s  conservative  estimate  that  ten  per  cent  of  the  global construction  turnover  –  US$3.9  trillion  –  is  lost through  bribery,  fraud  and  corruption;  i.e.  about US$390 billion  is  diverted  annually  from  projects  that  provide  water,  pollution  control,  electricity,  roads,  housing and  other  basic  human  needs.  Given  the  apparent  magnitude  of  corruption  within  the  international construction sector, it is perhaps no surprise that Transparency International has published a special focus report on Corruption in Construction and Post-conflict Reconstruction with one chapter devoted to the ‘cost of corruption [32]. 

5.0 CONCLUSION 

Bribery  and  corruption  have  been  highlighted  as  common  breaches  of  good  governance  practices  and destroyers of value in companies and countries [33]. The underbelly in most companies is within the area of  procurement.  While  a  number  of  measures  can  be  put  in  place  to  minimise  the  problem  of  corruption, one of the key tools facilitating ethical conduct is the appropriate practice of disclosure practices.   

Currently, there are various bodies including Transparency International, multilateral organizations such as World Bank (WB)  and  International  Monetary  Fund (IMF), international professional  societies  as well as consumer  organizations  which  have  highlighted  the  curse  of  corruption  and  are  trying  to  combat  it  at different  levels  [32].  Specifically  in  the  construction  industry,  “procurement  acts”  and  procedures  have emerged  in  almost  all  countries  and  anti-corruption  legislations  being  formulated  and  implemented. 

Governments  have  also,  through  ‘disclosure’  requirements,  made  it  difficult  for  corrupt  money  to  be invested  and  banked.  However,  it  is  also  sad  to  note  that  corruption  is  getting  very  sophisticated  and  the amount  of  corrupt  money  is  increasing  exponentially.  Some  developed  countries  and  some  developing countries have managed to reduce corruption through political, economical, social and religious awareness. 

However,  these  efforts  are  very  limited  in  scope,  and  until  and  unless  human  beings  are  forced  to understand  that  corruption  is  bad  for  everyone  including  themselves,  the  success  will  always  be  limited. 

Corruption is a ‘moral’ issue besides being a financial, economical and criminal issue. ‘Morals’ can only be taught voluntarily  and also be  accepted by  the recipients voluntarily. This can be encouraged through the dissemination of CSR values and associated topics such as professional codes of ethics within college and  university courses, whether they in engineering, management, law or finance courses. 

 

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This paper was presented at the 18th IEK conference

 

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