Ethical behaviour in the South African construction industry.

Ethical behaviour in the South African construction industry.

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Ethical behaviour in the South African construction industry PAUL BOWEN 1 * , AKINTOLA AKINTOYE 2 , ROBERT PEARL 3 and PETER J. EDWARDS 4 1 Department of Construction Economics and Management, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa 2 School of the Built and Natural Environment, Glasgow Caledonian University, UK 3 4 School of PCPM, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia Received 4 September 2006; accepted 15 January 2007 An opinion survey of South African architects, quantity surveyors, engineers and contractors regarding ethical behaviour within the construction industry reveals that South African contractors seem to possess a reputation for unethical conduct. The range of problems encountered includes collusion, bribery, negligence, fraud, dishonesty and unfair practices. While bribery in the form of payments and gifts is prevalent, fraud does not appear to be as serious a problem. Most construction professionals believe that the industry suffers from unfair tendering practices, as well as over-claiming and/or withholding payment for service delivery. Negligence arises mainly from poor documentation and poor workmanship. Incidents of collusive tendering encompass cover pricing and bid cutting by contractors, while the primary form of fraudulent behaviour is deceit and misinformation. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s bribery codes conditions could be used to counter unethical behaviour in the construction industry. Keywords: Corruption, codes of conduct, professional ethics, business ethics, South Africa Introduction According to Donaldson (2001), ethical practices that promote economic efficiency include respect for intellectual property, engaging in fairer competition, avoiding monopolies, avoiding nepotism and crony capitalism, not abusing government relationships, providing accurate information to the market, avoiding bribery, respect for the environment, and honouring contracts, promises and other commitments. Transparency International (2005) has shown how corruption can add up to 25% to the cost of public contracting, generating waste of public resources, missed development opportunities, an unstable envir- onment for businesses, and therefore increasing pov- erty. According to this report, the scale of corruption is greater in construction than in any other sector of the economy. The factors that make the construction sector prone to unethical behaviour include fierce competition for contracts; the numerous levels of bureaucracy for obtaining official approvals and per- mits; the uniqueness of many projects rendering it difficult to compare pricing; the opportunities for delays and overruns; and the fact that the quality of much work is rapidly concealed by concrete, plaster and cladding (Transparency International, 2005). The conduct and practices of the professionals
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This note was uploaded on 05/06/2011 for the course ETHICS 234 taught by Professor Shah during the Spring '11 term at Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani - Hyderabad.

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Ethical behaviour in the South African construction industry.

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